The idea of giving up rubbish, giving up ‘making’ rubbish that is, has been sitting
heavy inside me for a long time. This year there has already been so many
inspiring stories in this paper about people becoming trash-conscious, that I
think the time is right for me* (*us that is, since my family will hardly get away
without being involved). So, we're on a mission to give up rubbish for a year
–from this Lent to next.
I know all about Lent, I deal in chocolate. I think anyone who is able to withstand
a temptation for 40 days has a superpower, and I look on in awe. I can't seem to
keep any kind of practice going for more than a few weeks; I have tried regular
journaling, yoga and meditation; I have given up meat, caffeine, white sugar, red
wine and gluten; I've attempted rubbish before too. All have made me feel
healthier, but are resolutions that have failed once I've been offered a cupcake, a
morning lie-in or a roadside packet of crisps.
That's why I'm doing this challenge in a public forum; this way I'll be more
accountable and I'll hopefully get to hear some of your stories to keep my
motivation up. I'll also be able to use this column as a means to explain to and
motivate my wider family when they come to visit. I've thought this master plan
For some reason one of the only things I feel consistently committed to is the
thrill of low-impact living – I was essentially raised at Canada's largest
amusement park, my dad being the head plumber, so I need thrills to function. I
get similar 'wah-hooooo!' moments climbing trees, harvesting beans and
orchestrating lift-shares. Who knows why we are driven by the things we are?
Luckily this slight fixation has some great benefits attached – lots of cycling and
healthy eating are a given – so the fact that I can't seem to stick anything else out
doesn't seem to do me too much harm.
My self-imposed rules of the game:
Don’t create rubbish. Any rubbish that I make (or have been gifted), I will
document and keep for the duration of the year.
Rubbish in this project is defined as anything that cannot be easily
composted, cleanly burnt or widely recycled.
Minimise recyclables (giving up wine completely is too much!). Any
glass/aluminium/tetra-paks shall be cleaned and kept in the shed for the
duration of the project
If you think this sounds like an interesting challenge why don't you join me? Just
for Lent or for the whole year! I'm also going to put these articles up, along with
other information and musings, on a blog at
www.explodingtree.com/cuttherubbish. I hope some of you will share your
stories and knowledge on there too. Anyone who wants to join in for the full year
will be rewarded with chocolate!
Along the way I hope to meet some local heroes who know much more than I
about why we shouldn't make so much rubbish. I read recently that by 2050
scientists are expecting there to be more plastic than fish in the ocean. If you are
knowledgable about such things, please share that knowledge with me.
I look forward to documenting my successes and struggles over the next 12
months and also finding some local businesses that are able to help us to
As I write this I can already feel temptations piling up; that familiar urge to give
up before I start. However, I have been thinking about this for so long now that I
know in my gut the time is right. I’ll give it all I've got and who knows, I might
even be able to cut the rubbish out for good!