5 mins read

A Little R&R… Then Recycle

The 3 R’s are actually listed in order of importance. So why do we only hear about the last one anymore? Our society believes the more we have, the more we grow / create / build / etc., the more successful it means we are. This leaves little room for reduction. And reusing is generally not fashionable. Sure, there is an awakening of sorts happening that encourages Pinterest-worthy DIY crafts to be made from old stuff; there’s spoon jewelry, you can use a worn out boot as a planter, and there are 100’s of ways to turn a spent t-shirt into a reusable shopping bag. Unfortunately, brand new reusable shopping bags are still being manufactured every waking moment, no matter how many we make ourselves. New jewelry and new planters for that matter too. It can feel like an uphill battle. Likewise, it can feel incredibly confusing. The same people telling us how to “do our part” don’t seem to be doing theirs; shaming us for using a plastic straw while they continue to make them. They must know if plastic straws were banned and replaced with compostable straws we would continue living our lives and buy those straws instead. Why haven’t grass straws caught on yet? What if they did better first?

Now don’t get it twisted, recycling is definitely important. It conserves precious non-renewable materials, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and generally reduces pollution, especially water and air. The bad part is, it also creates pollution, uses a lot of energy, and apparently is not very cost-effective. If we dramatically decreased our trash production, and focused more on reducing and reusing, these issues caused by recycling might be a little more manageable, but at the moment they are on top of the big pile of problems we already have. I am no pessimist though and sort of see the current state of things as a transitory period: the old and the new ideas are all crowding the same room, but we as a society are cleaning house and working on sweeping out all the dusty, outdated ideas.

Like a lot of things in life, the most rewarding is often the most difficult to do, and reducing is no exception. I have this theory that being a consumer is just a basic part of human instinct, not necessarily something evil that “the Man” has brainwashed us into doing. After all, we literally must consume to survive. So, walking up and down the isles at Target is, in a way, our 21st century human version of gathering sticks for the fire or berries and nuts for the meal. I think it does us no good to feel guilty for what we inherently need to do to keep living. That being said, the way we’ve gone about it is not doing us any good. One of my favorite phrases is “the poison is in the dose” and I think it is an appropriate metaphor: If consumerism is natural and necessary, it can also be very dangerous if indulged in too extensively. Being more mindful consumers = reducing consumption.

I recently read an article about materialism where the author had a very different perspective than I am used to hearing. They suggested that, although it is often described as a negative trait and that our world is grossly obsessed with material possessions, maybe we are not as materialistic as we think. The word itself suggests someone who takes care of what materials they have, treasures them, fixes them. We don’t really do that anymore though, we throw everything away. It seems we are actually anti-materialistic. An ex-punk anarcho-idealist encouraging consumerism and materialism? I bet that is not what you were expecting to read about!

If we took care of what we already had, found better ways to satisfy those primitive instincts passed down from our Paleolithic ancestors; if we shared more, treated ourselves and each other more kindly, I believe it would make a difference. That, and if we started holding big corporations a little more accountable. Walrus Oil is not pointing fingers; we recognize we are not perfect. But we are constantly looking to set the bar higher for ourselves, and are so excited to continue finding new ways to do better. We just want you to join us on the journey! ♻

Margo Davison

Margo is a life-long student of Nature and lover of the Road. She spends her time thinking about plants and bugs and our delicate interdependent relationship with them. After being a nomad and living off-grid in the New Mexico high desert, she is currently playing house in the Ozarks.

4 Comments

  1. As I read your well written, and creatively expressed Blog, my mind kept yelling…Frugality! The art of being frugal…the lost art of being frugal.
    Here’s what Wikipedia’s definition of being frugal is:
    Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.[2][3][4][5]
    In behavioral science, frugality has been defined as the tendency to acquire goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourceful use of already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.[6]
    Getting all you can, out of what you have…NO food wasted but reinvented leftovers.
    May we say cloth diapers, versus disposable. I have actually noticed in parking lots lately less pampers, but more facial masks. Madness, it’s all madness.
    We as the human race have strayed so far away from this technique of being frugal through our over abundance of materialism. And we falsely accuse others of wastefulness when we are using disposable diapers, instead of good ol’ cloth.
    Why do we even need a straw? Well I just looked up history; according to Wikipedia:
    They state straws were possibly invented for the consumption of beer, since the vats were too heavy. Also mentioned was straws were made by the Sumerians, and were used for drinking beer, [1] probably to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation that sink to the bottom.[2][3] The oldest drinking straw in existence, found in a Sumerian tomb dated 3,000 BC, was a gold tube inlaid with the precious blue stone lapis lazuli…now that’s a STRAW!
    Looking forward to reading other things needing to be brought into the light.

  2. I loved your blog! Every well written, and such an important topic. If we don’t stop to think about how our actions effect, not only those around us, but the earth as a whole, we will blindly go forward thinking, “Oh no! The ozone is going away! Oh no! The ground is getting polluted” while we just keep doing the same things over and over and naively hoping it will change. I know this earth isn’t going to last forever, but don’t we have a humane responsibility to maintain it as best we can. I am very thankful for people like you and the people at Walrus Oil who do think about these things.

  3. Yep! My organic gardening efforts are all about that balance of plants and bugs…hopefully more good bugs than bad bugs. But that quest for dominance over those insects which would deprive me of food make it a joyful challenge. Thanks for your wonderful reminder of the need for wise use of our resources. I’m trying to find that good balance of minimalism – using by need instead of want. And doesn’t it seem that as reading and writing have been seemingly denigrated these days in favor of the digitl life, that math scores are lowering?? Hmmm! Loving this adventure called life! Thanks for your blog.

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