Walking the Talk: I Think Not.
By Kim Mott
Did you know…
…The average person (not household, PERSON) in the U.S. produces
56 tons (4.39 lbs. per day) of trash in a year?
…That almost 1/3 of that trash is packaging?
… Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour?
…Americans throw away enough glass bottles every two weeks to fill the spaces (height and base) once occupied by the World Trade Towers?
…Enough aluminum cans are thrown away by Americans to rebuild the commercial air fleet every 3 months?
…Americans throw away enough paper cups, plastic cup, and plastic “silverware” every year to circle the Equator 300 times?
…Only two manmade structures on Earth are large enough to be seen with the naked eye from outer space, The Great Wall of China and The Fresh Kills Landfill, located on the Western shore of Staten Island?
Clean Air Council. “Waste Facts and Figures.” http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html. 10/27/2005.
On the web site, where I found these figures, are even more. But, I choose just these to point out a problem I see happening at events. As practitioners of a religion that claims to revere Mother Earth, there is a lot of failing to walk the talk. As fairly long time member of CMA, (I started coming when my bouncing baby boy was 8. He just celebrated his 20th birthday), I have watched over the years as the amount of trash generated at each event has gotten larger and larger. I don’t believe that is due only to the fact that more people are being allowed to attend the events.
I’ve also noticed besides generating more trash, more and more people are getting too lazy to find a trash can. Many mornings upon waking up, a member of our campsite would have to pick the trash left in the site by others. We always have a nice fire (complements of our own private pyro. Revel fire once closed down and moved to our campsite) and people will come to sit and talk, and leave their trash on the ground. It isn’t just in our campsite. It is all over the land.
When I first started attending, I camped with the original “Refugees.” (Anyone out there remember Clay and his beautiful dog?) While camping with them, I learned a lot about the art of waste control. At one event, the Refugee camp was 50 strong. At that event, our campsite generated only enough “trash” to fill a single trash can a fourth of the way full. Other campsites near us filled their barrels three times during the weekend, with a lot less bodies.
I moved from there to Quiethaven (AKA: Pooh-burbs). Most of us were former Refuges. Using what we learned as Refuges, we continued the tradition of avoiding producing trash.
The rules for the campsite are:
If it could be washed, wash it.
If not and it could be recycled, recycle it.
If not and it could be burned, burn it.
If not one of these - find a replacement that could.
How did we do it? A lot of preplanning, a lot of work, and a big fire.
To start with we pooled our resources. We took the time to see who had and could bring what. We avoided duplications. Saving space, trash and money. No body bought new stuff thinking we would need it, only to find out we already had three in the campsite. This also eliminated the packaging problem. Speaking of packaging… why do people bring their new tents, sleeping bags, canopies, etc in the boxes? Are they going to put them back into the box to take home? It is easier stuff those things in the car/truck/trailer without the boxes anyway.
We reduced trash by pre-planning meals as a group. People would send money to one person and several of us would go shopping and buy the supplies. This eliminated duplications. We would do much of the prep work at home, eliminating a lot of trash. We transferred much of the food to non-trash containers as well.
That brings me to another waste reducing idea. WASH THE DISHES. It takes a little planning and work to make sure your dishes are clean, but it means there is less trash in the cans. You are going to wash your pots and pans. It doesn’t take that much more to wash plates, glasses, and silverware. If you feel you MUST bring disposable dishes, bring paper and burn them. If it can’t be washed, if it is not paper plates, etc., don’t bring it! NO STYROFOAM!
We brought our own recycle center. We had one for aluminum, plastic, glass and trash. Each can was labeled. They were put on the trailer and taken back to Dallas, where they would be taken to the recycle center. The biggest problem was, even though the cans were labeled, people COULD NOT READ. We would have to re-sort from time to time. Not only that, people from other campsites, would bring their stuff to our site, instead of walking all the way to the big cans supplied by CMA. BUT, at least, it made it into a trash can.
This brings me to the plastic bottle problem. We did bring the small sports bottles. We had kids. They would carry those around. But for the camps needs, like dish washing, cooking, etc, we bought the water in big containers. We had two of the big kind you filled at home, using the hose. We also brought the big 5 gallon size you can buy at the grocery store. You can refill the small bottles from them.
Glass was a bring problem. We recycled it. There is no way to avoid producing glass trash, except don’t bring it. Even I’m not going to give up my alcohol. If you drink mead or wine, give the bottles back to some one like Griffon, or some other brewer you know. If you drink other forms - recycle, recycle, recycle!
Our fire was used to remove a large part of the trash that was not recycled. Not every thing could go into the fire. Food, yes. Paper, yes. Cigarette butts, yes. Plastic, NO! The secret is not to burn trash while using the fire to cook.
I’m not asking people to give up stuff, just find a better way to bring it, use it, or dispose the trash it generates. There is always the “you brought with you, you take it home” idea. We are merely tenants on this earth; don’t make the landlord mad enough to throw us out because we won’t take care of the place.