Today I slept, for a plague has once more swept over our quiet suburban home. And as I slept, I dreamt a dream of wind. Wind has always been special to me, I don’t know why, but it always makes me feel more at peace, more connected to the world. I tell the boys that the wind is Mother Nature’s breath, and that if we listen closely, we can hear the voice of the earth. They think I am mad but sometimes, when he thinks I’m not watching, I see Noah listening to the wind in the trees, and he always has a smile on his face.
Today I dreamt, and in that dream the wind’s message was one of sorrow. I don’t know why Mother Nature is blue, but I can imagine. We do terrible things to her every day, all in the name of human progress, and we forget that we are tied to her and what we do to this planet comes back to us a hundredfold.
The trash we produce, the smog that we pour into the air, and the forests that we devastate, all so that we can have disposable razors, two cars per family and pornographic magazines, continues to pile up, continues to take its toll on our home and our families. We’re making some steps in the right direction, we are pressuring our governments to listen to us and we’re trying to leave this world a better place than we found it. But we’re held back at so many stages.
Halifax Regional Council is facing pressure over a proposed garbage bag allotment reduction. Currently any household may put out six bags of garbage per pickup period. For the majority of the year that is every two weeks. Under this new proposal, that number would be reduced to four. (For the record, you can put out as many bags of recyclables as you want.) Four big bags of garbage every two weeks. And people are fuming mad.
You know what makes me mad? That my kids step on garbage every time we go for a walk. That I can’t escape oily water, even when I am two hours from the nearest city and have hiked through the woods for twenty minutes. That the bald eagle population of Nova Scotia is surviving but remains threatened. That the second deepest harbor in the world, my harbor, is only now getting some respect – for two hundred and fifty years Halifax has just been dumping raw sewage into it. That our oceans are polluted and over-fished, and that our lands are drying up and over-fertilized. That trillion dollar oil companies spill oil into our waters, and in six months, the media and the public have forgotten about them. That the voices of people aren't raised louder and aren’t making demands. That our foods are modified but our way of thinking remains mired in decades old ideology. And that I am a part of the problem too.
Our family sorts its trash fairly carefully. I am happy to say that we produce maybe one kitchen sized bag of garbage every week. The proposed changes won’t have any effect on our garbage habits. Noah knows which kind of waste goes into which of our three garbage bins (paper, plastic and garbage), and he knows where the compost bucket is. But still, as I packaged up the recycling tonight, I was frustrated at the sheer volume of it. So many food boxes, juice containers and so bloody much cardboard.
The worst part is, it is so hard to get away from it. Even buying less processed food, as we’ve been doing these last couple weeks, hasn’t changed it all that much. Things still come in cans and boxes. The apples still come in a plastic bag, and the oranges in a box. The soups I bought, switching brands and flavours to avoid MSG and more ingredients I couldn’t pronounce – well, they are still cans of soup.
I have been inspired, over and over again, by the stories of people who have taken the one year challenge – to produce no trash that goes into a landfill, for a year. It ain’t easy, according to most of them, but it can be done. Do I have the strength to even attempt it? I don’t think so. But I am still inspired to do better.
So this week, a new goal. To reduce the amount of non-recyclable trash we produce. For our kids, for our planet and so we can still listen to the wind, and maybe, just maybe, hear a happier story. Because I want to see my sons smile when they listen. Even if they think I am mad.