Sunday, March 31, 2024

He is risen!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.

A blessed Day of Resurrection to you all.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

A new visitor to the bird feeder

I saw a new bird at the feeder today.

At first I thought it was a black-headed grosbeak, but not with those red eyes (and white chest).

The beak was also too dark.

It proved to be a rufous-sided towhee, a bird I hadn't seen around here before. We used to get them all the time when we lived in Oregon, but that was over 20 years ago.

Welcome, visitor!

Friday, March 29, 2024

Straight out of 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'

I hate shopping. I've always hated shopping. You've already seen my interest in clothing, so imagine my deeper disinterest in designer clothing.

But not many share this indifference. Consider this recent headline: "Versace sample sale in New York City shut down by cops after fights break out among more than 1,000 shoppers: 'They're going crazy.'"

LOL: Straight out of "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

Thursday, March 28, 2024

What ever happened to the zero-waste movement?

Back in 2016, I quietly decided to try a lifestyle experiment: zero-waste living.

This project originally came about due to Older Daughter's influence. She was working as a live-in nanny in New Jersey, if you recall, and it opened her eyes to a grim realization about garbage; specifically, the contrast between her frugal upbringing on a rural homestead and the affluent lifestyle of an upscale suburban family.

No doubt you've heard of the zero-waste movement, which encourages people to produce as little garbage as possible. Dedicated adherents proudly showed off their yearly pint jar's worth of trash while giving sage advice on how to make deodorant or toothpaste from bulk ingredients.  Yawn.

Older Daughter became involved in the zero-waste movement and encouraged me to try it as well. I dipped my toes in, became obsessed, and never looked back.

Zero waste, as you may recall, is based on five principles: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order).

• Refuse what you do not need, everything from avoiding the mall to declining the freebies at the dentist’s office
• Reduce what you do need (this includes decluttering)
• Reuse (stop using disposable items)
• Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse
• Rot (compost) the rest

There is a certain level of sanctimonious superiority among hardcore zero-wasters I always found annoying, but it's worth noting we're still living zero-waste eight years after embarking on the experiment. I'll admit, it's addictive.

Because we phased out disposable products years ago and cook our meals from scratch, our garbage output was already significantly lower than average. It wasn't much of a push to take the next step into zero-waste, particularly since the focus of our homestead has been food self-sufficiency. We're not minimalists – we don't live in a sterile-looking all-white house (thank God!) – and you'd never guess we follow this lifestyle by visiting. It's just ... a lifestyle.

We're not perfect – our yearly garbage can’t fit into a pint jar – but considering the average person produces 4.5 lbs. of trash per person per day, we're not doing too badly in producing that much trash (as a family) in about a month.

I no longer obsess over the topic as I did at the beginning, but I do continue practicing zero-waste principles. Interestingly, though, it seems not many others do – any more.

It occurred to me a few days ago that I hadn't seen anything about zero waste in the news lately. Why not? Zero waste, it seems, was "the" movement of the 2010s, but now it so passé.

Consider this article from July 2023 entitled "Influencers popularized the trash jar. Now they’ve moved on." The author observes, "Unrealistic expectations and real-world problems like unwanted gifts and the temptation of 'wishcycling' turned the trash jar from zero-waste influencer emblem to 'elitist' cliché."

Quoting from the article: "Trash jars [meaning, pint jars filled with a year's worth of trash, which became the "status symbol" of the movement] inspired dozens of profiles in outlets like New York Magazine, the Washington Post, and CBS. Entire zero-waste brands sprang up around them, such as Package Free Shop. But then came the backlash – or, rather, a gradual falling out of favor. A few years in, people who were inspired to adopt zero-waste practices because of the trash-jar trend began renouncing it as exclusionary and unrealistic. They argued that focusing on the jar sapped energy from more systemic actions they could take to address plastic pollution. Some likened it to extreme dieting, calling it the 'skinny supermodel of zero waste.'"

The article continues: "While the trash jar remains an emblem of the zero-waste movement, it's lost much of its cultural cachet. Today, in 2023, many sustainability influencers are relieved to have entered into a softer, more forgiving era of the zero-waste movement – one that recognizes the impossibility of 'zero' and welcomes a spectrum of waste-reduction efforts. Some have pioneered alternate slogans, like 'low-impact,' 'low-waste,' and #ZeroWasteIRL."

I suppose this is the category in which we find ourselves. We don't strive for perfection, we strive for reduction.

One influential zero-waster went to extremes to the point where the lifestyle was "definitely stressful." The article notes, "In 2017, she finally called it quits. She now uses her old trash jar as a bookend. ... Others feared that their trash jar missteps would undermine their credibility as influencers – but so would not keeping a trash jar at all, since they were such an emblem of the movement."

Many also recognized the futility of individual actions when compared to global output of plastics and other non-compostable trash. It's the reason many, if not most, simply gave up the effort.

Incidentally, the reason we first embraced "disposing of disposables" and then later the zero-waste movement was purely as an aspect of preparedness. If garbage services go down, waste will become an enormous problem for society. We just figured it would be a challenge we'd tackle now rather than later.

So, even though the zero-waste movement is no longer trendy and/or has softened into something less rigidly perfect, we'll continue the lifestyle. It's second nature now, and – what the heck – I still enjoy the challenge.