Self Exploration (day 32) – Waste

Do me a favor. Next time you walk along the streets of your city, take a count of how many pieces of garbage you see. My guess is that from your own front door you’ll be able to see at least ten pieces.

It is not normal that we have become insensitive to waste and garbage.

A friend of mine, Carol-Lynne Michaels (fb), did a very public test a few years ago about going plastic free for a year. I know this challenge changed her, and I would expect that being the type of Lady she is, she’s still very plastic free.

I know that since I started to become aware of my waste, I’ve not been the same. This accounts for most of my change in dreams in life.

Does it make sense to covet new rims for my new car, a more perfectly green lawn, a new pressure washer, a new snowboard, bigger shocks on my new mountain bike, new new new more more more?

The question for me is not ‘what do I have’ or ‘what do I want’ anymore, it’s now become ‘what have I stopped or changed in order to create a positive impact on this world’.

I get a kick out of my uncle. When we talk on the phone, he’s all excited to tell me that he’s really doing good stopping smoking cigarettes these days, that he’s down to about only a pack a day, subsidized by about two packs of Nicorette gum.

I digress.

For me, it’s not about a new car that’s more fuel efficient, it’s about using less fuel; it’s not a new job to afford a new mortgage on a new house, it’s about identifying how to live modestly; it’s not finding products with a green package, it’s finding products without packaging at all.

I’ve learned that trusting my awareness over some packaging trying to convince me is a smarter choice for me.


I really do feel that the chance I have of making an impact on this world IS a big. By the mere fact alone that Carol-Lynne’s plastic free goal sparked change in me (through conversations and reading articles she’s written), I know I can impact somebody myself. Even if I only impact one in every ten people I talk to, that’s still 10%. In the business world, that’s double digit growth and something to be admired and desired.

In spite the emergency to change, this waste engine is a big one that I cannot dream of stopping on my own. Most likely it will not be stopped in my lifetime.

This begs what level of waste is acceptable?

I am fairly certain that the waste I produce is very equivalent to the amount of convenience I have. Who wants to carry glass jars to fill up in the bulk section of the grocer instead of plastic bags? Sometimes I need to print my receipts to keep accurate financial records for myself. I use toothpaste. A dead toothbrush really doesn’t work well. Sometimes I do get flat tires in my shoes. It isn’t usually appropriate to wear pants with big rips in them, and most of the time those rips aren’t sew-up-able.

It’s hard. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I see a solutions that work in all my areas of waste. I do know that much like afflictions of my mind, the first step is to become aware of what and how I’m wasting. The next step is to recognize when I’m about to buy the thing that is the waste, and not buy it.

Awareness. This all comes down to awareness.

I’ve been taking an inventory of the amount of garbage I’ve been seeing lying around the city streets I walk. Vancouver is considered one of the greenest cities in the world. We have an ocean, mountains, snow, beaches, science world, Green Peace, and David Suzuki.

It’s not right the amount of waste I’m seeing.

First off: why are there people in the world who still think it’s ok to throw ANYTHING on the ground, especially if it’s in the city and not biomass waste?

Secondly: How is it that we have so many things that we can just throw some of them away all willy-nilly?

Thirdly: How do I become more accountable for this waste?

Finally: Why doesn’t the city employ somebody who needs a job to walk around and pick up garbage?

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