Today I embark on an adventure that I've entitled Living (trash)Free. The goal is simple: to waste less and to live more simply for 30 days.
This story begins last Monday when I was sitting in a coffee shop waiting for a friend. I ordered my iced chai and reached for a straw. In-between the actions of breaking the paper seal and placing the straw in the beverage, I was hit with a flood of questions. How ridiculous is it that we make trash before even drinking a sip? How many straw wrappers in all of San Diego get thrown away every day? How much trash do Americans throw out? Where does the trash go? I love asking big questions because most often they only lead to more questions. However, I believe that in our questioning we are able to unlock parts of ourselves that need to be challenged or stretched. That random Monday and that straw opened up an inner dialogue about what my impact is and what it means to be a good steward of the Earth.
Colossians 1:16-17. All things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.
As Christ-followers, how do we live in light of the fact that everything around us was created by God? How does that change the way I manage the impact of a culture that preaches excess and disposability?
2.6 trillion pounds of trash are produced every year, globally, which are created by an approximate 7.25 billion humans on the planet. Meaning that the average human disposes of roughly 360 pounds of trash per year, or nearly a pound of trash every day. Americans are certainly pulling our own weight in this regard. We account for an average of 4.5 pounds of trash every day.
My rules are pretty simple for the next 30 days.
1. Reduce, minimize, and eliminate waste. This means purchasing everything intentionally and reusing things like bags for bulk foods. It also includes eliminating waste as a whole - so recycling is included in this. Anything that can't be directly turned back into earth (like compost) is included.
2. Document the trash I do create. I'll be posting weekly Instagram pictures of the trash I'm throwing out (pretty aesthetic, right?). I'm excited to see what the fruits of my most intentional living yield; however, I'm also nervous to see how much trash I still create in-spite of that. Has our disposable culture made it impossible to live with minimal waste?
You can follow this journey on Instagram @jeremy_schultheiss or follow #livingtrashfree, I'll be posting a few blog posts in the next 30 days with updates and reflections.