On Tuesday, Inaugural Day, I hosted my first ever zero-waste celebration, called the “Music Lovers’ Green, Zero-Waste, No Paper (But The Tp!) Food Drive And Inaugural Ball.” I can’t tell you how excited I was to hold this party and to bring together environmental and social responsibility with service and celebration for what I consider to be one of the most profound events that has occurred in far more than our life times.
Expectations too high you say? But what I see is that the world changed the day we elected this man. We are everywhere rising to the best of what is and is in ourselves because this man calls us to be the best of who we can be. He can’t help it if he ever were insanely tempted to do so. This capacity in him is like what we find in rainmakers, people who create an energy such that good things happen to the people around them. He may do that, too, I don’t know. But this I do know: he is more than a politician, so much more than a brilliant orator, that the word “rhetoric” often used to describe his speeches falls woefully short of depicting what is being conveyed. He is a politician of a higher order, capable of bringing politics to what it can be about—the healthy organizing of a group of people to promote the highest good of both the individual and the community. Implementing strategies and policies that promote growth, inventiveness, creativity, service, while developing the infrastructure to give people access to what helps promote connection and prosperity, so that the people can feed, house, clothe themselves; can apply themselves to gaining and benefiting from the highest quality education, can be of greatest service to each other and to the greater world, can flourish and thrive finding their true vocations or missions for their own development and purpose in the world. He says this is not about him, but about us; and he is right. We have come to a place collectively where we are ready for collective transformational changes, and he, as he has said, ran for president because he thought that he had something to offer to the country at this time. He does; we all do.
We are all better everywhere because we elected him; because of the hope, dedication and service he inspires. The changes that had been gestating and were birthed the day he was elected will span weeks, months, years, decades and more coming to fruition, depending on what they are—and we can not know until they mature what many of them will be. But I am full of faith and knowing that we live in a different world, one in which life is better, more whole, more just, more free. As in saying a prayer knowing that it is answered as soon as it is asked, or in Plato’s idea of form; this is absolute truth, even though there are many ways we do not yet see it in actual physical form. The depth and the height of my gratitude for this transformation that we have all been a part of creating, is indescribable.
Right; back to the party. It was a great success and not much more demanding than the “convenience” of paper and plastic. Invitees were asked to bring their own tableware and glasses (it was a pot luck, too). Most of the food was vegetarian and scraps were suitable for the compost, but I had a bag for meat and dairy scraps that will be buried deeper into the ground once it thaws (until then I am keeping it in a freezer, so it won’t spoil. The napkins were all cloth, and since it was a buffet, there wasn’t the need to give everyone a napkin, and less people used them—many less than if they had been set at a place setting, and I can’t say that anyone of us was any less the clean for it, really. Thirty or more people, 5 hours, and no trash!!! What a great accomplishment!
Speaking of trash though, you’ve heard the waste generated by the Inaugural gathering. Now, I’m not really comparing my teeny, tiny party of 30 to the BIG party of 1.8 million. This would be comparing apples to oranges. But, given my efforts, I can’t help but to think of what Washington DC did and could have done.
The city service took away trash cans to increase safety (concerned, I suppose, that a skirmish could break out and they could be used as weapons), which only made the situation that much worse. 130 tons of waste were hauled away and more still to haul, when the normal amount of trash in a day in Washington DC is 3 million tons. Even 3 million tons a trash a day from one city is incomprehensible to me. But, 130+ MILLION TONS! Who would not be stunned by that? And what could have been repurposed from all that?
What if the city had had more foresight and less fear? They might have asked people beforehand to carry away and recycle the trash they generated. They may have had out more receptacles for recycling, more staff and volunteers available to encourage people to know what to do with their waste. They might have had places set up, maybe even receptacle where people could throw the memorabilia, the socks, the blankets, the sleeping bags, the thermoses, the hats, gloves, coats, table, chairs and more that were also left behind, and since, many of these things were left behind because they were forgotten, the city could have had a way to gather these to give to agencies for distribution to people in need. They might have created a day of service for people, who as they were leaving donated an hour of their time to help in the clean up. Spending $117 million for the Inauguration, they could easily have thrown in another million to support environmental responsibility.
Imagine the impact that would have made!!!
Imagine the impact it will make at the next Inauguration of Barack Obama!
Imagine what changes you can make to approach a zero-waste life style and how good it will feel as each of us becomes a more active participant in healing and caring for the world and all life!