Saturday, September 25, 2010

The options are there. We just have to make the right choices.

I had tremendously positive responses my no-trash project during Earthfest this past week. Students, faculty, staff, and residents were truly fascinated and shocked by knowing how it is possible to generate so little trash after six months. Of course I mentioned that cutting food packaging will get most of us 90% of the way there. I was asked about how difficult it actually is to generate no (or very little) trash. The overwhelming answer is that it is terribly easy, for several reasons...

Jason mentioned that doing something like this is just like switching from eating meat to not eating meat. Once you get used to it, you are used to it. I like to think of it as a subconscious state of being. Let's take this example of switching from non-vegetarianism to vegetarianism. Imagine you go to a restaurant. In your non-vegetarian state, you don't think twice about ordering meat at a restaurant. You know, subconsciously that you do eat meat, and that it is okay to do so. Now imagine you go cold turkey and say, "No more meat!" The first few times you go out to a restaurant, you may feel tempted to order meat, because it was only a little while ago that subconsciously, it was okay to order meat. Now you have to remind yourself that you don't eat meat, and you just focus on the vegetarian options on the menu. However, after a while, one month, two months, you internalise subconsciously that you are a vegetarian, and you don't eat meat. The fact that meat is on the menu doesn't even bother you, because now, you are a different person. This is exactly how it works with generating no trash. You change from one person to another person after a transition phase, and you just stop thinking about it.

This wonderful town of Ann Arbor is set up for each one of us to be creative and thoughtful and challenge ourselves to make a difference. We have all of the options right before us. There are vegetarian restaurants, and non-vegetarian restaurants, and restaurants in between. There is a beautiful urban centre and wonderful nature preserves that surround us. We can shop at Kroger, or we can shop at the People's Food Coop. We can satisfy our cravings at Bivouac, or at Kiwani's Club. In the end, the options are there. We just have to make the right choices.

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