Waste Not, Want Not
Ways to Reduce Our Daily Consumption
Donald Sutherland, PAg
When I was a child I didn’t realize the significance of the words “waste not, want not” that were often uttered by my mother. At that time I was sure she meant our family couldn’t afford the luxury of waste. Now I see her words meant that the earth can not afford our colossal waste.
With another spring here and summer just peaking around the corner comes a new opportunity to reduce waste. Could we draw up our own list of “cut down the waste” resolutions? Could we better reverence the earth by what we do or don’t do in our own household? yard? condo? apartment? trailer? No question we could. Would our tiny steps matter? That is how revolutions start and we need a revolution. A number of great tiny steps are listed on the Earthcare website, www.earthcare.sk.ca, so be sure to check them out.
Here is a suggested resolution with power to influence: Beginning today, I will insist on a dramatic reduction in the plastic that arrives in my home. After grocery shopping, I was appalled at the sight of a pile of plastic bags on our kitchen counter. We recently stocked our car with several large cloth bags. We now have an alternative to offer our grocery cashier by saying, “Please no plastic, I have my own cloth bags.” In addition, the over packaging of our processed food is a scandal. Buy as much as possible with the least packaging. One way to do this is to buy a greater share of your grocery list at your local farmers’ market.
In addition take a hard look at the excessive use of water. We have always thought of water as abundant. With climate change, wars will be fought over water. We could cut our water use in half and be just as healthy and clean. One excellent example of an easy way to slash water use is to install “low flush” toilets.
Another way that is equally as easy is to cut back on the excess amounts of water flooding our lawns. How many times have you seen sprinklers at full blast and the surplus water running down a sewer? A lawn will thrive better with a good soaking once every several days rather than frequent but light watering.
A water-catching container under the spout from an eve trough would collect rainwater for use on our trees, garden, flowers, and shrubs. Think of the fringe benefits—wonderful exercise, walking and carrying a bucket, and avoiding the use of chlorinated water.
A few years ago, at the farm, we decided to replace standard lawn grass around our house with Russian Wild Rye grass. We no longer need to water, to mow, to fertilize, or to use chemical weed killers. The beautiful, permanently green grass is wonderful habitat for Hungarian Partridges and Mallard ducks. Could we do this in the city? Would our city neighbours accept such a radical change on our street? Perhaps in less than a decade, grass that requires water will be outlawed in prairie cities. Just a paradigm shift—from a clipped lawn is beautiful, to permanent drought-resistant grass is beautiful. Remember, not long ago, a cigarette hanging on the lip was a sign of style.
Reprinted courtesy of Earthcare Connections, PO Box 2800, Humboldt, SK S0K 2A0. Phone (306) 682-2407, fax (306) 682-5416, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.earthcare.sk.ca. Donald Sutherland is a career counsellor, personal coach, and mediator with special training in restorative justice. He is also a professional agrologist and active farmer, email: email@example.com.