As a follow-up to last week’s post, I continued thinking about the frugality vs. Eco-consciousness question. After realizing that I unplug fully charged devices at other people’s homes, I turn off the shower mid rinse, and compost my food waste despite the fact that I don’t directly pay for either water or trash (they are both part of the services provided by my homeowners association), it started to reframe the internal discussion. I hate waste. No, I’m not a germaphobe; I just can’t stand the idea of resources being wasted.
I’ve been asked before what it is that brought me to sustainability. The answer, as far as I can figure, has to do with the Law of Conservation of Matter. The fact that you can’t truly get rid of something (think plastic bag or Styrofoam trays that take eons to break down and it still is made up of matter that isn’t destroyed) has stuck with me. Matter can’t be created or destroyed. What we have is what we have. In this guise, there is no waste (in nature). Every byproduct, if you will, serves another purpose.
I see what steps my in-laws go through to save leftovers. This includes food, but also scraps that can be refashioned for other purposes. The notion of waste is virtually nonexistent in their lives. Waste equals lost wages, revenue, and money that could be put to better use. There’s no need to throw something in the trash if it can serve another purpose.
Somehow we became a society that throws everything away, a “disposal society.” Many of the most conservative (in political terms) people I know are those that save what others might throw out and find other uses for them. This is an American value. In a time of political bickering, shouldn’t we look to see what we have in common? You can write this off as being overly idealistic, or you can suck it up.