Living With the Very Wasteful

Ok I’d be lying if I said that my decision to go ZW wasn’t influenced very heavily by my grandmother who I live with. I’d be lying pretty badly.

She’s a mild-to-moderate hoarder, but also gets extremely anxious about certain kinds of clutter, so at first glance you’d think that she were a relatively tidy person. But start opening up cabinets or take a peek in the garage and you’ll realize that you were sorely mistaken.

And that’s not to mention that her buying habits just hemorrhage money. Unfortunately, I do recognize some of my own habits in hers, though– the ones I’m trying to kick. She’s a compulsive shopper and so the moment of acquisition brings a high that tapers off within days, and so she’s left with an object that is no longer rewarding; it gets put away into a box, or set out in the garage, never to be noticed again. She buys mounds of food that go bad before she can get around to eating it all (and not to mention that most of it comes in the most ridiculous packaging).

The 13-gal trash bin in the kitchen fills up sometimes twice a week, and because there’s no curbside recycling for apartments and multi-unit lots in our neighborhood, getting her to set aside recyclables (for me to drive halfway across town to dump in a relative’s recycling bin) is oftentimes like pulling teeth. So I’ve been trying to green her up.

I bought her a glass water bottle. I bought reusable cloth “unpaper” towels. I offered to bake bread as needed for the house and go buy milk so as to make sure we only use the glass bottled kind. I’ve started making dish soap and basic cleaning solution. I bought reusable swiffer cloths.

“Look at how much money you’ll save, grandma! You don’t have to buy paper towels anymore, bread, water bottles… that’s a lot of money.”

And I think it’s working, slowly but surely.

But getting her to stop hucking this stuff out like its nothing, let alone bring it into the house in the first place, is a battle that I’m never going to win.

Yes, I rummage through the trash every few days to fish out recyclables and compostables. I’ve also started taking note of the junk mail she routinely throws away so I can quietly add that organization to my PaperKarma cancellation queue later.

But I can see that I’m making an impact in this one small household. Kitchen trash is being taken out less and less, and my own personal trash bin that I drastically downsized since committing myself to this lifestyle is being taken out about as often as my old one, which was about 8 times the size. But I’ll write about that later.

It’s hard to stay optimistic when it’s predicted that my generation will be left with fish-less seas, dwindling forests, more and more extreme weather, crumbling infrastructure that won’t be able to withstand that weather, and an economy dependent on dirtier and riskier oil… all thanks to the priorities of the previous generations who forgot that they were supposed to leave something to their children instead of take it all for themselves.

At least I’ve convinced one person to stop buying water bottles, and that feels like a good first step.

PS- About the violet extract? Maybe I did something wrong somehow, but the stuff smells like licorice for some reason…


3 thoughts on “Living With the Very Wasteful

  1. I understand where you are coming from. A few months ago, my living arrangements changed drastically. It is very hard not to slip back into old habits when the lifestyles of those around you are so different. I try really hard to live by example and control what I can control. Keep up the great work!


  2. Similar boat, here. Recently moved in with someone who doesn’t recycle (at all), in a city whose recycle center’s location is known only by the tumbleweeds and there is no curbside program. Good luck to all of us!


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