Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An update

The fr(ECO)logy project is in full force...at home. I have been continuing to collect my reusable stuff. So far this year we haven't sent anything to recycling, and have had about one small garbage bag per week to set at the curb. The back of our garage is filling up with recyclables, but I'm also working hard on ways to reuse these resources.

My first job has been to tackle the paper piles, and, of course, to reduce the amount of paper coming in. I've taken steps to reduce the amount of junk mail sent to me, as that is the main source of paper in this house. Using what remains, I am making homemade paper, boxes, beads, and mosaics and collages with paper. I'll share the details of these projects soon.

I've fallen behind in the online portion of the project, so this post is just here to let anyone interested know that the project is still on, and to let you know I'll be working on keeping the blogs updated more regularly now that some of the logistical details of the project are getting ironed out.

If there is one thing I have learned so far it is that there is a lot of junk even in a home occupied by relatively eco-conscious people who don't buy a lot of stuff. There is so much emphasis on recycling that the reduce and reuse parts of the equation often don't get the respect that they deserve. Reduction is clearly the key even when you are trying to reuse useful objects. How many plastic bags can a person reuse between grocery store trips? I have one single glossy catalogue I've been using for beading making and collage projects. It is unbelievable how much can be made from this single catalogue. It would take just a few minutes to call the companies that send these things to get off of their mailing lists--I'm finding that most of these companies are more than happy to honor these requests. How much easier it is, though, to thumb through them--or not--before tossing them in the garbage or recycling piles. Before making the calls, I was getting three or four catalogues per week, but I know people who get ten or twenty every week.

At my most overwhelmed moments, I've toyed with the idea of logging all of the stuff coming in, but only keeping the portion I know I can use in the near future. But having junk accumulating in my home is a constant visual and physical reminder of the consequences of waste and overconsumption. It is incentive to creatively reduce and reuse. I will probably give myself a small break by donating some stuff to my son's preschool for art projects. Donated objects will certainly be reused at least once, and the preschool is always in need of supplies. The more donated items they receive, the less they need to buy for projects. The only negative aspect of this is that donated recyclable objects may be less likely to get recycled once they are covered with glue and glitter and paint. These items are put to good use, though, and there are many non-recyclable items, or items that can't be easily recycled, like waxed cardboard milk cartons and little bits of metal and plastic food packaging, that can have a second life before hitting the landfill.

Now back to making paper.

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