When I left on the trip to attend to my ailing parents (see Going Into Stall Mode) I promised myself that I wouldn’t fall into the easy trap of railing against “normal” American life.
Yeah, well I’ve broken a lot of promises in my life, so . . . .
The processes of helping with the cooking, cleaning, and other chores in this one single household has been an eye-opening experience. What I find most alarming is the amount of waste produced by two people, let alone (temporarily) four.
On the homestead, we have four types of waste receptacles: garbage, compost, burnable trash, and recycling. The compost gets processed into garden fertilizer. The burnable trash gets used for starting fires in the wood stove and water heater. The garbage and recycling accumulate until they can be packed out to town.
The last two are the slowest to fill. We do our best to reduce waste, if only to avoid the chore of sorting and hauling.
At my parents house, there’s a garbage receptacle, and a garbage disposal. That’s it! I understand the city has a recycling program, and drop off stations, but it’s too much work for these limited mobility seniors, so they don’t take advantage of those programs.
Instead, any and all waste goes in the garbage. We put a little in the disposal, but I’ve never been comfortable with those contraptions. Besides, Aly took a course on water ways and works in college, and has seen what the disposal produces at the other end. She recommends against using it!
Most of it goes in the big wheelie bin in the garage, which gets curbed once a week, from whence it magically disappears. Out of sight, out of mind, out of conscience.
I feel terrible throwing away pieces of paper and food waste that by rights should be used to make good soil. I’d love to turn a good portion of their large backyard into a kitchen garden, but that leads to control issues best avoided in the family at this point in their lives. Best to go with the flow, which in this instance is a copious one toward the municipal dump.
It makes me ill.
Aly and I can do little except at the shopping end. We look for low or no packaging when we shop for groceries. We love the bulk section, where we can refill our own containers in some cases. Sadly, the fruit and vegetable stand nearby hasn’t opened for the season yet.
Yes, I feel our homestead way of life is superior to others—for us—why else would we bother? (see Living on the Edge: Security through Insecurity.) But, it takes getting out now and then and actually participating in the other ways to refresh one’s perspective on why one chooses to go to the extra effort to live more mindfully off the grid. I cannot wait to get back to doing so!
Which brings up another point, since I’m obviously not writing much on the blog these days. I booked my return trip. Unless something changes in the meantime, I should return to the homestead by the evening of March 16th. (Is it insult to injury, or a strong reminder of what I return to, that the tide will prevent me from reaching home till after dinnertime that day?) Give me a day or two to resettle, and I’ll be back to the old posting schedule as soon as possible. Thanks again for your patience, everyone!