You know the type. That person digs paper out of the trash can to put in recycling? That person composts food scraps, brings lunch from home, uses reusable bags instead of plastic, uses a clothesline to dry their clothes and things like that. I suppose that person could be labeled as “crunchy.”
Many experiences in my childhood generated a propensity towards the reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle. Although I have talked about some in relation to composting, much more contributed to this transformational process.
My mom provided for my sister and I on a single parent income starting when I turned 10 years old. She had insufficient resources for many years before that as well. Granted, my mother had resources through the strong family network and active support form my grandparents, that others in our situation lacked. We had little money so when my mom spent money, she spent it wisely. I grew up believing it normal to reuse printer paper by printing on both sides or squeezing every last bit of toothpaste out of the tube before throwing it away. We still took care of our teeth through regular cleaning but instead of paying through the nose, figuratively speaking, for a dentist, we headed to the local technical college and offered ourselves up to be practice patients for students in the dental hygiene program. We could have skipped this altogether but instead, my mom helped instill the wisdom of prevention care.
Additionally, I learned early on the importance of good stewardship in my personal life of the things that I own and my environment, my tiny footprint on this planet. I saw how my mom cared for the tiny house she owned and the far different way that others in our low-income neighborhood cared for their rented homes.
In school, in Sunday school, in my family, I learned that God owns everything on this planet yet He has entrusted certain things to our care-taking. In the future a time will come when we will present back the things we have had in temporary custody and give account for our care while it was in our care.
With the groundwork in place, how have I started becoming that person? Many people have similar backgrounds or nearly identical backgrounds in the case of my sister, yet not everyone becomes that person. What makes the difference?
My background and personality type contribute significantly to this process. I often call myself a font of useless trivia because certain facts in a wide variety of subjects stick in my brain in a permanent way while others pass through in an irretrievable manner. How else can I explain the fact that at the beginning of last year, I had to place my car key on top of my lunch box to make sure I wouldn’t forget to bring it with me. I call it useless trivia because it’s not always the most important thing that I remember. I like to eat. I get “hangry.” Food is very important to me. I have yet to figure out what makes things stick in my brain over others. When I do, count on a post.
Over the years, things in the crunchy lifestyle have passed through my brain and gradually, some of them have started to stick. I have been on the recycling train for quite a while. I watched the aftermath of having to clean up after hoarders and started weaning myself off my need to collect and save just in case. I became intrigued about minimalism through the influence of my cousin. I started learning about composting after Ellis mentioned that he had started a compost bin in their backyard. Most recently, a single comment in one of the blogs I read served as a catalyst to change my thinking about the total waste I generate. I knew all of this in one form or another for years yet it took small comments here or there or repeated iterations for it to sink in. One stone built upon another until I come to the point where I am now. I am just starting to become that person. I pull recyclables out of the trash. I just restarted the habit of saving paper used on only one side to reuse before I place them in the recycling. I bring home leftovers from from everyone at my table to compost. (I did this a couple weeks ago at 5 Guys when I brought home the peanut shells that my family discarded.) I purchased reusable baggies so that I would no longer keep adding plastic to landfills. I sold my Keurig on my church Facebook Marketplace rather than throw it out. I collect extra food to distribute to the students. I set up a makeshift compost bin in my room and encourage the kids to toss the cores and peels there instead of the trash can. I reuse the bag that I use to collect extra food at lunch. I am working towards setting up a space in my house to set up a clothesline to dry my clothes as well as find some old clothes or material to make into rags to use instead of paper towels.
In the end, I still want to become that person, but without all the connotation laden overtones. That’s a whole other post.