Sustainability is hard. This is a lesson I did not really expect to learn as a Sustainability Scholar. I expected to go to the farmer’s market every Saturday morning, walk to work, and cook all of my meals. I figured I would transform into a sustainability queen, never wasting food, showering once a week, and living without air conditioning proving that you too can save the world. I thought I would never even look at a plastic water bottle, and hug trees in my spare time. But over the past seven weeks, I have realized how difficult it really is to balance a full work week with true sustainable living.
But there is good news. Living in the Sustainability Co-op (Eco House? Susty Coop?) I have started to cultivate new and environmentally friendly habits, mostly revolving around waste. Composting is one aspect of Eco House life that I have grown to appreciate. I’ve always liked the idea of composting, but never actually had the opportunity to do it. Now, thanks to Peter and Quinn, whenever I peel a banana, I don’t have to worry about the peel rotting in a landfill, next to an old stinky pair of shoes and a broken toilet seat. Instead, I can know that my peel will one day return to the earth, enriching the soil and providing nutrients for another plant. In addition to rethinking my relationship with food waste, I have also begun to think more deeply about landfill and recycling waste.
As the house’s trash-lady, I take out the trash and recycling about once or twice a week, and throw it in a dumpster outside of Brick House (I just realized that there’s been a dumpster and recycling bin in our backyard the entire time). But, when I brought the trash to the Brick House dumpster, I would load the bags in my car and drive it over. But it isn’t easy. Living waste free requires a conscious and consistent effort. Last time I was taking out the trash, Jonathan was helping me and told me that the average person produces four pounds of waste a day. When he said this, I picked up one of the trash bags, which felt about ten pounds, and for the first time I realized how easily trash can accumulate in our modern, consumption focused lives. Seeing the trash produced by a house of ten relatively environmentally conscious people is a weekly reminder of the tremendous, cumulative impact of our waste habits. Because of this chore, I have tried to reuse plastic containers and avoid materials that cannot be recycled.
Personally, I would love to see if the house could go a week producing only one bag of trash waste, and it is my personal goal for the rest of the summer to limit my waste as much as possible. Implementing sustainable practices into daily life takes dedication, but I think that waste reduction is an easy way we can all start to change our old habits into more responsible environmental actions.