[I started this mini-series last week as I reviewed Jen Hatmaker’s new book. If you’d like to see some ways I am going to try to limit my phone usage for the sake of my family, check out my post about media usage from last week!]
During this month of her project, Jen decided to cut down on her family’s waste in 7 different ways:
- Conserving energy and water
- Recycling (everything, all of it)
- Driving only one car
- Shopping thrift and second-hand
- Buying only local
Several of these are already a part of our life in Sicily. We recycle almost everything. We are very careful about conserving energy and water… thanks in part to the enormous cost of electricity in Europe. About 90% of our kids’ clothes are second-hand; in fact I went to the thrift store earlier today. We buy almost all of our fruits, vegetables, and eggs locally in Sicily. And we only drive one car.
Well, actually… more about the car in a minute.
With regards to recycling, my habits have changed a lot since moving to Italy. Thanks to our town’s strict recycling program, I separate my glass, plastic, paper, metal, organic/biodegradable, and mixed trash. Two different types of trash go outside my door for pickup every day of the week except Sunday. For instance, Wednesday is organic/biodegradable trash (it goes out 3 times a week), Thursday is mixed trash and paper, and Friday is glass and plastic.
The system works well. In fact, I’ve gotten so used to it that it bothers me when trash isn’t separated. I was at a cooking class recently and watched the instructor dump everything — vegetable peels, a cardboard box, eggshells — into a trash can. I found myself wanting to jump up and at least get her a separate organic bin. All that good compost-able waste going to… waste!
Despite these lifestyle habits, I know these good habits can be undone with a single decision. For instance, Elliott and I have always been a one-car family. Elliott bought our used Honda Civic in 2008 and it has seen us through dating, engagement, marriage, a deployment, and life in Italy. And, perhaps most notably, it also survived the traumatic process of me learning how to drive a manual transmission!
However, the times… they are a’changin’. Looking ahead to this final year in Sicily, we realized that because of friends moving away, Elliott would no longer have a way to carpool home on days that I have the car. We decided that we had finally come to the point where owning a second car will be less wasteful than sticking with one car: less time wasted, less stress wasted, and maybe even less gas wasted thanks to no more schlepping Elliott back and forth to work if I want the car for the day.
After patiently waiting for the best deal he could find, Elliott finally bought a little Fiat last week. We have joined the ranks of two-car families. It feels… great, honestly, for our situation.
To some degree, I think, reducing waste will always be an individual project and a work in progress. I wonder whether we’ll go back to having one car in the future? What do you think? Are you a one-car family?