“Away” is a strange adverb to use in association with the garbage we are relentlessly creating, as in “I’m just going to throw this away.” But today on EWC we’ll have some fun with the subject of reducing garbage!

Image: a family laying in their weeks worth of garbage

Source: Gregg Segal

We are going to introduce you to an amazing – and growing – community of people who are changing what we think is possible when it comes to living well, while living sustainably. And we are going to let a new “guest writer” for EWC, Andrew Verderber, share an exciting perspective that astonished our entire team here at Ever Widening Circles.

First, let’s expand on this issue with the adverb “away” and marvel at how it was ever logical to connect it to the garbage we humans create.

Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of the word away:

  1. from this or that place <go away>

  2. in a secure place or manner <locked away>

  3. from one’s possession <gave away a fortune>

  4. uninterruptedly onward <clocks ticking away 1

Interesting, huh? 
One of the most poignant definitions I found was at dictionary.com:
out of existence or notice <to fade away>  2
That certainly seems to sum up the mindset we’ve had about the garbage we create, as long as humans have walked the earth.

But there’s good news!

There’s a new movement afoot that looks like it might transform us all eventually.

Let’s enjoy the insights of EWC Thought Leader, Andrew Verderber, bringing us to a new understanding of possibility!

Here’s Andrew’s article (remember – you too can write for us!) :

Image: Friday Woods

Source: Stanley Donwood : Far Away Is Close at Hand In Images of Elsewhere

“Away” is a curious word to use in context with throwing our garbage away.

Consider the sentiments that are stirred if your significant other says to you, “Go away with me next weekend,” versus those evoked by telling someone to “Just throw that away for me.”  The thought of “going away” infers adventure and may even prompt a wonderful sense of discovery.

But for all of human history, throwing things away infers an out-of-sight/out-of-mind mentality.

Image: Wait here

Source: Stanley Donwood : Far Away Is Close at Hand In Images of Elsewhere

Fortunately, many people are coming to terms with the fact that away, in the context of trash, no longer means “gone” or “not my problem”.

That said, we still don’t seem to have reached a tipping point for meaningful change. Any connection people have with their trash is carried away with the rest of the neighborhood’s weekly pick up.

Consider an alternative reality: 

What if our household or business waste was collected on an annual basis?

Would people be more motivated to reduce their garbage after coping with the accumulated volume day after day for a year? I imagine this unsettling burden would inspire people to be more choosy about what they bring into their homes.

Enter, a woman named Bae Johnson from California who has saved her family’s 2014 waste stream. You may be asking yourself if she owns a large shed or rented a storage unit to contain the refuse. And there is the wonder in this story: floor to ceiling piles of unpleasant smelling matter turned out to be far from what she faced.

Her family’s entire annual waste stream, in the end, could be contained in a 32 oz. glass jar.

Before addressing any looming doubt we all have about this “too good to be true” claim, I want to ask if you consider the contents of Bae’s jar to be trash or art?

If your annual waste were stored in your living room would you be labeled as a hoarder or a kind of performance artist? There could be some fun here!

And here’s the cool part:

The Johnson family lives with their waste contribution to the environment, receiving a daily reminder to continue reducing their consumption of resources for the preservation of the natural world they deeply respect. The contents of the jar never go away, they simply become someone else’s or another generation’s problem.

Asking ourselves what we can do to reduce our impact begins with changing our concept of away.

Take a look at this short video and then we’ll explore this interesting concept in much more detail….

Reducing garbage with Zero Waste Lifestyle?

  • Minimize clothing and other completely elective purchases
  • Bring containers to the grocery store and market for meats, fish, cheese, butter, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Practice the system of the 5 R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot.
  • Compost all food waste

But what about all those nitty-gritty aspects of life?

How do you find time to make your own cleaning supplies? And what about non-recyclables like paper towels, tampons, plastic produce bags, plastic loops for price tags and stickers?

Let’s take a look another video with a lot more detail by another zero waste champion…

Via: MSNBC  4

I realize this will require a paradigm shift, but more and more people are proving it can be done. What would a world look like if all of us just reduced our trash by half?

After seeing these people speak, I think I could do that!

Or what if most of us made purchasing choices based on reduced packaging? I suspect manufacturers would very quickly change their practices. Imagine the impact in waste and landfills.

This is a definitely doable change, with an amazing long-term impact! And perhaps on the horizon, we can all move away from a future of beaches, rivers, streets, and countryside strewn with trash.

Make it a great day! Re-think: Reduce, Reuse, Refuse excess packaging.

~ AndrewVerderber

Image: February holloway

Source: STANLEY DONWOOD : Far Away Is Close at Hand In Images of Elsewhere

Dr. Lynda here…

I love this concept! Since we first looked at this piece of writing, it changed my thought process on every single thing I buy… in a great way!

Saving money?

Since Andrew Verderber sent us that article, I can’t seem to shop without considering every item and my options.

Even if a nice cold bottle of water seems tempting, I have been passing on it because that single-use container seems to haunt me a little.

I know I’ve also saved money by just passing on a lot of impulse purchases.

I’m also much more careful about what goes in the actual trash at home: separating the garbage from the paper, composting and recycling with new energy. It takes seconds more to do the right thing.

Andrew may be turning us all on to something very doable on some level, for any of us.

If you’d like one more boost of details on this, I found Lauren Singer’s TED Talk on the subject. It will fill in a few of the remaining blanks.

In addition, I’ll refer you to the ZeroWasteHome.com website which has so much more in details.

Lauren Singer has a fabulous website at TrashIsForTossers.com with useful tips and quite a few videos of her own. Her cleaning products can be found at The Simply Co.  All great stuff!

Unconvinced or still curious? Take a look at Lauren’s TED Talk…

Via: TEDx Talks  5

Today, Ever Widening Circles brought you a unique article, featuring the work of two new, seemingly unrelated,  “thought leaders”. First, our new guest writer, Andrew Verderber, currently working towards his master’s degree in the field of business sustainability at Illinois State University.

BONUS: In a strange coincidence, while I was looking for some great images for this article – and trying to avoid the standard images of our garbage burdened globe – I stumbled upon the work of artist Stanley Donwood. His exhibit was so aptly named for today’s article – “Far Away is Close at Hand in Images of Elsewhere” – that I couldn’t pass it by!

He does beautiful work and we encourage you to look at more by clicking here.

Wrapping up

When it comes to trash, away and elsewhere seem to be getting closer and closer. This article inspired me to start doing something about my own impact here and there. Thanks, Andrew!

Make it a great day! Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

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  1. “Away.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/away>.
  2. “The Definition of Away.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/away>.
  3. ZeroWastHome. “ZeroWasteHome Overview.” YouTube. ZeroWastHome, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 19 June 2015.
  4. MSNBC. “How To Fit Two Years Of Trash In A Mason Jar | Shift | Msnbc.”YouTube. MSNBC, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 June 2015.
  5. Singer, Lauren. “Why I Live a Zero Waste Life | Lauren Singer | TEDxTeen.”YouTube. TEDx Talks, 27 May 2015. Web. 19 June 2015.

Andrew Verderber is an M.B.A candidate at Illinois State University working to find a balance between people, the planet, and profitability. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, pick up basketball, and checkers.