Saturday, May 28, 2005

That's a bunch of garbage!

It is a proven fact that the majority of people who decide to change their lives by living more simply also get more interested in the care and preservation of our environment. That has indeed happened to us. For instance, we bought canvas bags and now use those in the grocery instead of the plastic bags or paper sacks. We already recycle, even though our local town does not do anything, unfortunately, to encourage this practice.

For awhile, however, I have been considering the waste we generate, as a family and as a society. To illustrate: Today Ed and I ate at Wendy's for lunch. He got a combo meal with baked potato and I got a kid's meal and a small Frosty. Between the two of us, here's the waste we generated:
  1. 10 napkins (half unused)
  2. 3 plastic cups
  3. 3 plastic cup lids
  4. 2 straws
  5. 2 foil burger wrappers
  6. 1 small french fry cardboard container
  7. 1 kid's meal sack
  8. 2 spoons
  9. 2 sour cream containers
  10. 1 baked potato plastic container
  11. 2 straw papers
  12. 1 salt packet
  13. 2 paper tray liners
  14. 2 catsup miniature paper cups
That was just for us - 2 people. I then counted the other people eating in the restaurant. There were 30. Assuming each person had as much waste generation as each of us, it was easy to imagine the amount of trash this group of people generated. But that was just in 30 minutes. Now multiply that by the number of customers at Wendy's in our town today alone. Then multiply that by the Burger King customers, the McDonald's customers, the KFC customers, and every other fast food joint who served meals today in Ellsworth. Then multiply that to encompass the state of Maine - just for today. Then multiply that to encompass every fast food joint in the country today, then the world. And that's just for one day! It is totally incomprehensible to me how much trash that results day after day after day - just from fast food restaurants.

I felt so guilty about the waste. Then I read this:

In the world today more than 2 billion humans are now malnourished, and this is the largest number of hungry humans ever recorded in history (Neisheim, 1993; Bouis, 1995; World Health Organization, 1995)! Conceivably the numbers of malnourished will reach 3 to 5 billion in future decades.
I throw so much trash away without a second thought, and my belly is full. Suddenly I remembered a bumper sticker I saw once: Live simply, so others may simply live.

Living a life of simplicity, with integrity, is always expanded to include choices of how we spend our time, our money, our energy, the earth's resources, and yes, even whether we grab a handful of napkins at Wendy's and only use 5, or whether we only take the number of napkins we actually will use. Tiny decisions, global effects.

For those who are interested in some good tips on environmental responsibility, this is a good site:

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