Waste Not Want Not

There is too much stuff in this house – 25 years of four children, various guests, pets, businesses and endless activity.

It just had to go – I needed to truly release SO much of this “stuff” – this was a clearing of Hollywood proportions. The skip was filled to the brim and so we hired a Ute loaded it up and drove to the DUMP.

The Dump – as a kid, going to the dump was THE exciting adventure of the weekend. There was no such thing as a skip – to us that was the nickname that the Greeks and Italians had for us Aussies who watched Skippy the Bush Kangaroo after school each day. This was the time in my childhood when firecracker nights were still legal and Dad could burn anything in the incinerator in the back yard without applying to the council in triplicate.

Whatever was too big and hard to burn, Dad would load up into the Volkswagen. My brother and I would pile in stuffing our bodies in amongst old bikes with knees up to our chins surrounded by various broken bits and pieces of our household’s life that my father could pry from my mother’s stubborn fingers. The closest dump was located in the next suburb with tiny dirt roads carved through mountains of settling landfill winding around various stages of rubbish processing.

Today it is a very trendy upmarket suburb sporting parks and house proud residences. But back then, going to the dump, for me, a budding Archaeologist, this was akin to a religious experience. After all, these were piles of prehistoric treasures just waiting to be discovered and my imagination would run wild digging up jars containing sacred scrolls and all the answers to the universe.

We would drive into craters of dirt, park beside other dumpers and watch as some people sifted through the already dumped “stuff” seeking that “one person’s trash is another’s treasure” find. We would all pile out of the car and grab the various refuse items and literally just throw willy nilly out onto the ground. The smell was something that has etched itself onto my memory forever – a combination of old, dirt, sickness and death – simply ferrel. There were crows, magpies and seagulls everywhere – all capitalising on whatever opportunity they spotted and wasting nothing.

Looking back now, it was dangerous and quite a health and safety hazard. That is something we never thought of back then. However as a six year old, dodging the seagulls swooping while chucking crap from the VW – it was great fun!

Today, the Dump is called a Transfer Station. Transferring your trash OUT of your household and into a station where it can be recycled restored and resold as someone else’s treasure is a federal enterprise and managed by a strict accountability system. So today, driving into neat lawned grounds we were met by a weighing station and given a ticket with specific path and bay instructions. Impeccable landscaped gardens greet us around each corner and after seven curbs we turn into a large shed with an enormous deep hole in the middle where bulldozers and large shiny yellow squishing machines transform ordinary rubbish into flat neat little packages. The dump smell is diluted to 100th of my memory and the whole place was – well – clean and tidy. I felt significantly underdressed and respectively hopped out of the car, mindful of all the safety instructions as per the hundreds of signs around me and carefully placed the rubbish into the designated area.

It felt like we were at Ikea – the Ikea where items are returned and transferred after a decade or two. I watched the abundance of our city being transferred to this neat clean little facility and wondered about our relationship with “stuff” and where appreciation would factor into our waste management practices. What a great example of the universal balance – here at the Dump?

Sunday mornings may find many people at Harvey Norman or Far Pavilions buying new furniture. Sunday afternoons may find many people at the Transfer Station relieving themselves of the old furniture they no longer want. In one end and out the other – just like living organisms expelling toxins and waste.

Waste management is big business and is the human control of the collection, treatment and disposal of different wastes. Approximately 3000 tonnes of solid waste are generated each day in the south-east corner of Queensland alone. Most of this waste is sent to landfill. But what if we applied the law of the 5 ‘R’s before we made our next purchase?Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Restore – this is what REAL appreciation is all about!

How could we upgrade our relationship with “stuff” with appreciation and reduce our waste? Decluttering is a wonderful thing. Clearing out creates space on an energetic level. However what if we regularly conducted an inventory of every single thing that we owned and held in our house, office or life?
What if we valued our “stuff”?
What if we converted decluttering to our very own internal transfer station?

My grandmother’s favourite saying was “Waste Not Want Not” and she lived her life by that premise. I would definitely be in lots of trouble if she were still alive today.

Let’s look at the big picture here – look at the WHOLE picture. I created the Push the Earth policy for our business and industry and have been patting myself on the back about how much I value the environment yet look at my first paragraph – “There is too much stuff in this house – 25 years of four children, various guests, pets, businesses and endless activity. It just had to go – I needed to truly release SO much of this “stuff” – this was a clearing of Hollywood proportions.”

Here I am complaining about having abundance in – well abundance – and instead of appreciating it – I am DUMPING it. The word Waste comes from the Anglo Frankish “waster” meaning to spoil and ruin – squander, spend or consume uselessly.
How about we SAVE, VALUE and APPRECIATE what we have instead of WASTE?
How about we live a simpler life?
Live as part of the earth, part of the tides, the natural rhythms, the planets and the elements.

Align the values of the earth with family, community, work and our own.
Live with less.
Make better use of our resources.
Make better use of our time.

What would appreciate then?

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