It’s beginning to look a lot like …

It’s a bit awkward to complain about the commercialization of winter holidays and then turn around and write articles encouraging readers to buy, buy, buy.

But do it I must. Once a year, our newspaper creates a special section dedicated to buying local gifts. It comes out in our Thanksgiving issue (which is HUGE because of all the store inserts inside), and it’s a big revenue generator for our little publication.

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I don’t have art for this post, so here’s a vintage image from Pinterest. It’s so cute I forgot to be outraged about Christmas encroaching on everything else.

And I get that we need to do it, that the newspaper is expensive to print and create, and we’re all in this together, yadda yadda yadda. But on a personal level, living a minimalist lifestyle and aspiring to zero waste, and also because I hate Brown Thursday so much (yep, that’s actually a thing here) and Black Friday and the crassness and stupidity of it all, I feel like a big hypocrite every time I write a story extolling the virtues of some dumb trinket that nobody needs. Even though I also get why shopping locally is important to the general health and wellbeing of our community.

Wow, it’s complicated being an American.

Last year, even though I was deep into my Simple Year, it didn’t occur to me to offer to write a different kind of story — I just took my assignments (“gifts for every budget,” “coffee” and “socks”) and went with it. After it was all said and done, I remembered that I have a choice … and vowed to do it differently next time.

All of THAT is just to say that it’s already the next time. Our publisher casually mentioned in a staff meeting at the end of September that we’d be meeting with ad staff in early October to brainstorm story ideas, and I practically yelled, I want to do minimalist gifts! and everyone kind of looked at me, and my editor was like, will it be 15 words long?, and I was like, not even, all I need to say is, “Don’t buy anything.” And then (our publisher) will beat me up in the parking lot.

Our publisher pretended not to hear me. (She supports my coffee habit, so.)

When we had our meeting with ad staff, and we were all going around the table pitching ideas, I had mine sorted out — I didn’t want to say “minimalist gifts,” because no one would go for that, so I called it “gifts of experiences,” and rattled off my ideas: Museum memberships, acupuncture treatments, movie tickets, tickets to concert and theater performances, coffee shops (well, you knew I’d mix that one in, right?), swim passes, and spa services.

It’ll spotlight businesses that don’t normally get into the gift guide, I said to justify it, and was relieved to see all the nodding around the table.

It’s all in how you package it, kids. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

We have a new staff member who appears to love coffee as much as I do, and she was assigned “gifts of adventure.” She’s new in town — new to the Pacific Northwest, even — so I suggested we have a coffee meeting, not because we love coffee, OBVIOUSLY, but so we could go over ideas so our stories don’t overlap. She nodded sagely and said she definitely could see where I was coming from and that was a great idea.

I knew I liked this woman.

Her list contains more active experiences, so things like eBike rides, ski passes, zip lines, tree house rentals (I have to admit that sounds kind of amazing), and community ed trips. She suggested I add a sternwheeler cruise to my list, which I thought was a great idea. A half an hour later, we both had fat lists of possibilities. And I’m excited that there will be two stories in this year’s guide that focus on experiences over things.

*

Last year during my Simple Year project, I asked readers to brainstorm with me on the topic of zero waste gifts, and we came up with a great list, if I do say so myself. If you’re interested in further reading, click HERE and HERE. And my dedicated post on what I did for office gifts is HERE.

And if you have a minimalist or zero waste-ish gift idea you’d like to share, please add it to the comments — I would love that. It’s way too early to have to think about any of this — I like my holidays in proper order, thankyouverymuch — but on the other hand, it does take time to plan these sorts of gifts, so …

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The Great Closet Clean-out of 2017

October 1 marked a new season in the calendar that is Project 333. Um, I decided this summer that I wasn’t going to do this anymore, but when you’ve been practicing something for so long, old habits die hard, even if you rename it the Trisha’s Minimal Closet and act all nonchalant about the whole ordeal.

So when the calendar moved from September to October, I felt an itch to get into my closet and see what was what … even if technically I didn’t have to.

My bedroom was a mess of epic proportions as I dumped everything onto my bed — closet, wardrobe, drawers — to see what I even had. Because I’ve gotten into a bad habit of when items make me uncomfortable for whatever reason (fit, needs mending, tired of looking at it), of placing those items in my wardrobe “to deal with later.” Spoiler alert: I never deal with anything later because I am easily sidetracked.

The pile on the bed was so impressive that when Johanna came in to ask me a question, she ended up snuggling down into everything and taking a little break. I really should have taken a photo of that, but you guys, I was on a mission.

Trisha’s Minimal Closet Rules*

Try everything on. Hey, it was already out, so what the heck. I pretended I was at the store, trying things on and deciding if I liked them enough to buy.

Would I buy this item today? If the answer was no, I put it in the rummage sale pile.

Find a home. If an item made the keep cut, I either hung it in the closet (I wasn’t counting, but I only have so many hangers, so I figured that would keep things from getting out of hand — I get overwhelmed by visual clutter, so while I’m not worried about meeting a certain number criteria, I didn’t want to stress myself out with too many items, either), placed it in the “mend or alter” pile (now I just need to mend or alter, which could be a problem), or folded it into a neat little package and placed into my wardrobe (my t-shirts and tank tops got this treatment, and they look like little books now. I found that way more exciting than I probably should have).

Clean out underwear and “I don’t know what to do with this” drawers, too. The underwear drawer is probably self explanatory 😉 but I also have a drawer where random clothes live that I’m not really sure what to do with. And I’m still not sure what to do with, so they’re still living in that drawer. Like an adorable Halloween dress from my parents with Johanna’s name on the front (any little Johannas out there who need a cute dress? I will send it to you!) and a couple of t-shirts from my youth basketball days (Abby wore one for some Homecoming Week dress up day last year). I also had some damaged items in there that I knew in my heart were trash but didn’t want to deal with before now, like a bag made out of some undistinguishable fake material. I tossed it. I promise I didn’t do that lightly and if there had been a way to save it, I would have. I  bought that purse before I understood the impact of my choices. I won’t make that mistake again.

Be picky about what gets donated. I was watching an episode of Sunday Morning in September about hurricane relief, and how people love sending personal items because they think anything they send will be helpful to somebody. (The lady mentioned they’ve even got used tea bags, “because you can always make another cup of tea.” Dude, WHAT.)  But here’s the thing: Just because you donate something doesn’t mean anyone else is going to want it. A stained sweater, a pair of pants that are ripped in unfortunate areas — I mean, if you were confronted with those items at the secondhand store, would you buy them? Secondhand stores are bursting at the seams, and if you want your stuff to actually get sold and worn (and not dumped in the trash), it needs to be in good shape. Maybe excellent shape. I have several snagged sweaters (thanks Bear!) that are now living in a basket until I figure out what to do with them (maybe make a quilt?). No one would buy these sweaters, and I don’t feel good about passing off my problem on to someone else.

Celebrate the victory. I’m very excited about how nice and organized my closet, wardrobe and drawers look at the moment. It’s always a good feeling to know that my closet is a little lighter and that what’s inside it are items I actually want to wear. Dance party in the living room!

The end, I guess? Anyone else do periodic closet clean-outs?

*This works for me. It’s okay if it doesn’t work for you. Mere suggestions, not mandates!

Photo: Finished closet (I sort everything by color), closet shelves that hold my pants (top) and items to be mended (bottom), and my wardrobe — PJs on top, t-shirt books in the middle, and items I’m keeping for next spring and summer on the bottom.

Minimalist coffee

Once upon a time, during my Simple Year, I pondered the dilemma that is zero waste, minimalist coffee. Spoiler alert: I love coffee. Actually, is there a word stronger than “love” that I could apply here? THAT’S how I feel about coffee.

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My setup.

To make a long story short, I had a coffee machine for most of my life, but a few years ago, I bought a plastic coffee cone and have made coffee that way ever since. And I have been pleased with the results, even if I did need a paper filter.

Last year I tried making a reusable coffee filter out of one of Eric’s old t-shirts to further reduce my waste, but all that happened was my coffee tasted, surprise!, like an old t-shirt.

So I got a reusable filter. Upside: It was cheap. Downside: My coffee tasted gritty, and I choked more than once on grinds left at the bottom of my mug.

I wasn’t too thrilled with the results is what I’m saying. When I wrote about my experiences, I got a lot of recommendations on alternative minimalist options, like French presses and Aeropresses and even coffee socks. (That post got the most comments of any my whole year. BECAUSE COFFEE IS AWESOME.)

But I kind of felt like that ship had sailed — I already had my cone and my reusable filter, and I couldn’t justify buying something new. Once my Simple Year was over, I went back to paper coffee filters. Because good coffee is important to me. And worrying about paper filters in the grand scheme of things was a waste of time.

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Oh, I CARE.

So: For my birthday in July, my coworkers got me a gift certificate to a local coffee shop. There on the shelf was a ceramic, Japanese coffee cone that I’d been eying since, literally, last autumn. There was one left. It was $18.

I bought it. Happy birthday to me!

The moral of this story is that I now have a ceramic coffee cone and am using certified compostable filters. And my coffee has never tasted better. I have so few food pleasures thanks to my jerk of a stomach that this win is just … I’m so happy.

Another perk: Less on my counter is a thrill.

And I don’t think you can really mess up coffee made this way. Hot but not boiling water, a couple scoops of grounds per cup, a minute to pour the water over and presto! I can make a cup or I can make a half-gallon. (Why don’t I make a half-gallon?)

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I am a big fan.

Perhaps if I wasn’t already used to a coffee cone, or if I didn’t have a kettle, I’d be more inclined to try another minimalist route. I still have my reusable coffee filter and plastic cone. I’m not really sure what to do with them. (Mom, you interested?)

P.S. Abby comes home today for her first visit since heading off to school. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Updates, thoughts and feelings

House reset 2.0

A weird thing has happened in the Walker household lately: I’ve been actively doing a reset each night before I go to bed — well, generally after I clean the kitchen — and on Fridays, I’ve been able to do a bit more of a deeper cleaning/pick up session, which has greatly improved my outlook on life. I’m discovering if I keep things neat, Eric and Johanna are more likely to help keep it that way (although if I could just get Johanna to embrace wiping down the counter after she spreads crumbs everywhere, that would be great), plus it’s way easier to clean when the house is already pretty clean as opposed to waiting until it’s a disaster.

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I don’t really have art for this post so here’s a picture Johanna took earlier this summer.

We’ll see how long I can keep it up. I don’t know if it’s because I’m down a kid and that means less work in general, or if I’m suddenly just a go-getter. Last Friday I had a terrible headache — I don’t get headaches, I think I prefer my jerk of a stomach, to be honest, headaches hurt — but I still did the reset because I knew I’d appreciate it so much Saturday morning.

I know. Weird weirdness.

Abby goes thrift shopping

Abby takes after her father with her naturally frugal nature, so I wasn’t surprised when she texted me that she was going shopping for warmer clothes at a nearby thrift store with some girls from school. I recently sent a box with sweaters and pants she left behind in August, but that apparently wasn’t enough to get her by.

And also I think she just wanted to hang out with her new friends and have fun.

What did surprise me was the pure joy she found in an oversized, ugly ’90s “grandma” sweater. She says she learned from a fashion diva friend of hers that everything is a possibility in a thrift store — you just have to try things on and keep an open mind. Anyway, she came out of there with a bunch of clothes and only $20 poorer, and I’m not sure which of those two things made her the happiest.

Hell yeah for hand-me-downs

Abby left a bunch of clothes behind and told Johanna she could go crazy and raid her closet any time she wanted. Most of that stuff is in the form of college shirts from schools we visited / she was considering, but there was also a pair of jeans that are now Jo’s absolute favorites. They fit her better, she said. Johanna has never been my fashion plate (she told me when she was three that she’s a person, not a princess), so it’s kind of hilarious to watch her actually start to care about her appearance. But I just love that she is happy to wear her sister’s hand-me-downs — a favorite sweatshirt is one that Abby got her freshman year of high school.

Reusables at work

I was in the staff room Friday morning warming up my jar of backup coffee (what, that’s totally a thing) when our publisher came in and casually mentioned she’s getting rid of all disposables in the staff room and making people use real plates, cups and silverware. I’ll supply some of that, she said, but we spend so much money on paper cups and plates and it’s the same people who use them anyway.

And I was like, I am very pro this plan.

Our head secretary, who also has the cleaning contract, isn’t quite as thrilled and is lobbying against it. She’s afraid that dirty dishes will pile up in the sink and she’ll be expected to wash everything. Which I think is a valid concern, actually — we’ve got some members on staff who are slobs. So this will be an interesting experiment is what I’m saying, trying to get everyone on the same page.

I know that in editorial, because I see my coworkers, three out of four of us use reusable mugs/water bottles, and I can see the fourth getting onboard. I’m not sure what they do in other departments, but I think this is just an awesome development. I’ll keep you posted.

Care package project 3.0

I’m still sorting out the details of our third care package to one of Abby’s newly bound college friends. I’ve set some parameters for myself this time, which is complicating the issue, as is the fact that Abby has her own ideas.

I want: A package that is as low waste as possible that will let this lovely girl pick out books.

Abby wants: Her to have a pair of socks a la the other two care package projects, only this time with swears, and for me to actually send books.

I have looked in to getting a gift card to the college bookstore as well as from a local new/used bookstore nearby campus. The problem with that is I’ll have to order them, then have them sent to me, then send them back to her.

So I think … I’m going to get a pair of socks and an Amazon gift card. I’m not crazy about feeding the beast that is Amazon, but I’m also a realist. Unless Abby gets me titles this girl is looking for ASAP, I guess, and then I can search local bookstores (one used, one new). I mean, books are pretty low waste, right?

Apparently not a fluke

Mr. Plastic put ground beef in my container again on Saturday without complaint. With a smile on his face. I feel a little off-kilter with this development, although in a good way.

Your turn

Whatcha up to?

Hell Yeah!

YOU GUYS.

On Saturday, Johanna and I went on our usual whirlwind adventure to the farmers’ market, grocery store and our favorite farm stand near our house. Since my conversation with my tri-county recycling friend, and researching / interviewing / learning about the issues our county — and the nation — are dealing with on the waste front, I wanted to make this as zero waste of a shopping extravaganza as I could.

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SPOILER ALERT

Farmers’ markets are great for shopping zero waste — if there’s anything that has a band or a package, I put it in my own bag and hand theirs back. This time, that was a small cardboard container that held beautiful cherry tomatoes.

Same with my favorite farm stand — everything I got this week was unpackaged, sticker-free, and totally gorgeous.

Hell yeah! But that’s not even what I want to hell yeah about:

The grocery store is a bit more of a challenge to navigate, of course, but I loaded up on jars — no need to shop the produce aisle — and actually made a list. THAT is generally when I run into trouble, when I have no plan.

I tossed in two Tupperware-like containers too, because everything from my last meat-purchasing extravaganza is long gone. We don’t eat a lot of meat in the summer, but for some reason when the weather turns cold, we are suddenly craving it.

But who should I see behind the meat counter? My nemesis, Mr. Plastic.

For those who don’t know the background on Mr. Plastic, here’s the condensed version: Everyone behind that meat counter is happy to put items directly into my containers, but  for some reason, Mr. Plastic just refuses. He puts everything in a plastic bag and then puts THAT into my container. I’ve explained that I’m trying to reduce my trash output, I’ve been kind, I’ve seen him there and forgone my containers all together, simply asking for paper.

But Saturday was different. I was taking personal responsibility for what I was bringing home with me on this shopping trip! I had a higher purpose!

And then I saw Mr. Plastic behind the counter, and worse, instead of ignoring me like he has taken to doing, he came on over and asked if I had decided on what I wanted.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

I’d like a pound, pound and a half, whatever will fit in my container, of ground beef, please, I said nicely, and he grinned. He eyed my container, which I’d placed on the display case, and grabbed the meat, placing it on a paper square.

This is exactly a pound and a half, and I think it will fit perfectly, he said.

And he puts it into my container without the square.

Anything else? he asks, and I’m like, holy crap, what just happened here?

So I plop my second container on the display case and ask for two of the double chicken breasts. He LOVES placing chicken in plastic. I held my breath.

Another paper square on the scale, another eyeballing of my container, another perfect fit. Chicken in my container, sans even the paper square.

Um …

Anything else? he asks, and I’m like, no, this is perfect, and seriously, thank you so much, I really, truly appreciate it. And he’s like, you’re welcome! Of course!

I was so shocked by the pleasantness of this encounter that I almost left my ground beef. Johanna had to remind me to grab it.

Jo! What the heck just happened? THAT WAS MR. PLASTIC! I whispered as we were walking away. I know! she whispered back. We hightailed it out of there, feeling like we’d just gotten away with something huge.

HELL YEAH!

I have no idea why Mr. Plastic has had this change of heart. I have no idea if this will last. I’m sort of wondering if maybe he had some recent head trauma that has given him amnesia and he’s forgotten his animosity towards my containers. Whatever, who cares (I mean, I hope it’s not head trauma), I had a perfect meat counter experience with this guy for the first time in my zero waste life.

Hell yeah hell yeah hell yeah hell yeah!

Update: Care package project

In our last edition of the care package project, meant to support and encourage Abby’s friends as they start college, Johanna and I created a very flat, lightweight offering for a darling pal who is going to school in Michigan.

Computer engineering or something? I can’t remember what her major is, but she’s smart and awesome and her future is bright.

I knew the exact moment when she received her package, because I got a very nice message on Snapchat. I don’t need to be thanked, but I’m always glad to hear a package has safely arrived.

After a successful first go, Abby gave me another name and address of another lovely, smart girl who has been her best friend since the sixth grade. This kid is like my third daughter, and it’s been really fun watching her bloom. She’s struggling to find her footing at school, and Abby knew she could use some Walker love.

(The photo on the left makes me laugh — that was seventh or eighth grade!)

This girl is only an hour away (nursing major, also smart and awesome) and I wasn’t really worried about shipping costs or flat items this time around. I mean, she’s my kid. Potentially high shipping rates were not going to stop me from sending her all the love I could stuff into a box.

Abby gave me a list of favorites — which included the color purple — and Johanna and I just tried to find as many purple items as we could.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo. I sent one to Abby via Snapchat so she could see what I’d gotten, and it didn’t occur to me to take another photo until I had the box all wrapped up and ready to send. Snapchat doesn’t save your photos. Thus the problem.

But here’s what I remember putting inside:

  • A purple washcloth
  • Purple fingernail polish
  • Lavender soap (I do love a theme)
  • A small purple notebook
  • Purple pen
  • The same girl power socks I sent in our first package (photo HERE … also photos of a similar notebook and pen)
  • Snacks: cookies, a Cliff bar, purple fruit leather (well, grape flavored, whatever), gum
  • Small first aid kit
  • Small container of Q-Tips
  • A handmade card by Eric of Mount Hood that all of us signed
  • A letter about my own college experiences — I struggled to find my footing, too — and what I learned … and that she’s so awesome, she’s totally got this

The package arrived a couple days late — or maybe she just didn’t check her mailbox — but she sent a very nice message thanking us for treating her like one of our own. (Um, she is my own, so …) And saying that my letter made her teary in a good way. (Well, college is hard, especially that first term.) Again, I honestly don’t care about being thanked, but it shows how kind and great these girls are to do so.

In light of the post I put up Friday, I feel slightly guilty and just wrong for including so many disposable items. This is not a minimalist OR zero waste project, to say the least, and I know it’s hypocritical of me to preach not buying anything and then telling you about all the stuff I bought, care package or otherwise.

But I also know you’ll forgive me and understand the reasons behind the project.

Abby has given me another friend’s name, and I’m looking into alternatives for this third package. This (also smart, awesome, wonderful) girl (who is also struggling to find her feet … are we just setting these kids up for failure by making college sound so amazing when it can actually be quite hard and terrible?) LOVES books, and I’m wondering if there’s a way I can add money to her college account so she can buy a title of her choice at the campus bookstore. I might just have to settle for a gift card, which I guess technically is less plastic/waste than the packages I have so far sent. I’m exploring alternatives, shall we say.

Local recycling news with a global twist

I was outside the cute little bakery that lets me use my reusable bags one fine smoky Friday earlier this month when I ran into the the manager of the tri-county recycling program, of which our county is a part.

Hey, he said, I have a story for you.

There are some major changes happening in the wide world of recycling, and it actually IS the wide world. There are local angles that make recycling here more difficult and costly: A cardboard recycling plant that’s closing nearby and the forest fire closing down the interstate for 19 days (a record!).

But the major change, and what makes this a perfect storm, is that China, the leading importer of recycled materials, and to whom the U.S. sends the majority of our crap, is banning certain recyclables starting Jan. 1, and it’s currently limiting the amount of contaminants allowed in the shipments, which is throwing MRFs (material recovery facilities — recycling plants) into chaos nationwide.

Let’s break this down into more reasonable pieces. You probably won’t care about the first two, but it’s all part of the greater story.

Part 1: The local cardboard recycling plant is closing Sept. 30

Cardboard is worth more when it’s separated out from other recyclables and sold on its own. The plant that has been taking all cardboard in the tri-county area is closing — I had one person tell me it’s because of the forest fire in our county shutting down the interstate, but then our sister paper sent me a story they ran in August about how they’ve been shut down by the county for code violations. A zero waste consultant (!) is trying to keep it going, but isn’t having any luck finding a space to open shop.

Cardboard — mixed paper — is one of the materials China is banning. So not only do we not have anywhere locally to bring our cardboard, a major international market is also closing.

Part 2: The forest fire

With the interstate closed, and all of our county’s recycling going to MRFs in Portland and Vancouver, trucks have had to go around Mount Hood — and that’s added an additional monetary cost. I’ve been told THAT isn’t really the issue — they’ve got the money to recycle and fully support the program — but it has added a burden. Apparently these delivery trucks are contracted by the hour, and trips have tripled or quadrupled in time. So has the price.

But there’s also a reduced demand from MRFs for recycled materials — again because of China. And Oregon isn’t set up to deal with our own waste. (I just learned that. I found it shocking.)

Part 3: China

So this is actually the part that everyone should care about, because it doesn’t just effect recycling in my area — it effects everyone in North America. Well, technically the world, but we all know that the U.S. is the major producer (i.e. user) of plastic crap, so let’s lay the blame where it belongs.

China has traditionally imported American recyclable materials for a few different reasons: Their manufacturing plants are booming and they’re in need of raw product, and maybe more to the point, the cargo ships they send to the States full of their wares are sent back to China filled with our recyclables (really reasonable shipping rates have been seen as a way to recoup expenses).

Now, where American companies want “clean” materials, the Chinese have been okay with some contamination. This doesn’t mean they’re taking dirty containers — it means that they’ve been taking those items that people toss into their curbside receptacles that aren’t actually recyclable and aren’t completed sorted out at the MRFs. A garbage service representative said they “see it all” and have gotten everything from plastic shopping bags to diapers in their recycling bins.

(Yeah, I was not expecting that last one, either. I actually asked if he was joking. He was, unfortunately, serious.)

However, that policy is changing. As of Jan. 1, China will no longer accept shipments with more than, like, some crazy small amount (less than .1 percent) of contaminates that no one can ever hope of achieving. Recycling plants do have sorting technology, but it’s generally run at a fast rate, meaning some contaminates get through.

Shipments of recyclables to Chinese ports are already being rejected for too many contaminants. And if one container contains one bale that is found to have too many contaminants, all the containers are rejected. If you just sent over 20 containers, that’s a problem. Many brokers are unwilling to take the risk.

In light of this, MRFs are slowing sorting belts way down, creating a backlog of materials, so plants are not accepting as much of it.

Which means there’s nowhere to put the recycling we’re creating.

My own conjecture: We may have to rethink our relationship to stuff and take responsibility for our own waste. I know. Crazy.

I was despairing about it all — because honestly, how do you even start to conquer this problem? — but my tri-county friend said there’s an easy thing we can all do to help, which is to simply quit with the “wishful recycling,” aka tossing into our curbside bins items that aren’t recyclable / you’re not sure if they’re recyclable / you think should be recyclable and you toss them in to prove a point.

(I mean, I’m guilty of tossing stuff in that I’m not sure about, counting on the truck guys to pitch out what can’t be. I felt terribly guilty when I learned I was part of the problem. I firmly resolve not to do that anymore.)

But to put a positive spin on this, one person I interviewed said that for every garbage job, 10 recycling jobs are created. That’s because they’re more labor-intensive. So he thinks that it’s going to be bad for a while, but eventually the economy will sort itself out — that this might end up being a good thing (sort of like how coal jobs are diminishing, but clean energy jobs are increasing). He cited as an example Oregon’s Bottle Bill, and how the addition of water bottles meant a new water bottle recycling facility in the state, which employs 60-70 people.

(On the other side, that plant just makes more water bottles and plastic … what is that stuff called? It’s like ribbon, but it’s plastic. THAT. Plastic water bottles can’t be recycled forever and that plastic ribbon stuff is trash bound.)

It’s kind of a fascinating problem. No one I talked to really had an answer for me as to what the future of recycling will look like, because no one knows if China will really implement this policy Jan. 1. And a lot is riding on that.

Whatever the outcome, this does strengthen my resolve to be a minimalist, zero waste family. I think personal responsibility is really the only way to get a handle on this (although who wants to take responsibility? It’s not any fun) — because if we created less recycling, and we really looked at what is landfill bound, it would change the way we bring items into our homes and lives.

Thoughts, feelings, ideas?