I had several goals for this week’s experiment on waste. None of them were particularly kingdom building, at least not explicitly. Of course, that is part of the problem with the “Green” movement, it is all a bit squishy. Do you buy the Prius because it is good for the environment or because it will pay itself off in skipped gas station trips? Is the local power company really interested in your having an energy efficient hot water heater, or do they just want to make sure you buy it from them? Are Christians called to be environmentally friendly because of Genesis 1? Because it is the right thing to do? Because Jesus came to redeem the whole world (John 3:16-17)? Because it saves us money that we can use to feed the hungry? Because the hungry are those most affected by environmental shifts? Because…?
My goals this week were to limit my carbon footprint and to get my almost 2 year old out of diapers. The latter was a pipe dream, at best. The former, I have no idea how to measure. In the end, I pretty much failed waste week. Sure, we ate leftovers, used up items in our freezer, and were more careful to sort out recyclable materials, but I put more than 500 miles on my car this week, took a shower everyday in clean drinking water (I’m still mad at 2004/5 VTS Student Body President, Carlye Hughes, for pointing this out to me), and threw out, on average, seven disposable diapers a day.
To be serious about removing oneself from the cycle of waste is really difficult work. Should we have used cloth diapers? Probably, but how much water is wasted in the cleaning of those? What sort of detergents are used? Could we live with just one car? Not in South Alabama when my vocation has me running to hospitals 40 miles in either direction. Are cloth napkins better than paper napkins? Suddenly, I’m back in Tim Sedgwick’s Ethics class weighing goods in conflict. Which may, in the end, be the true benefit of waste week, it got me thinking about my habits, about what I really “need” as opposed to what is really a “want.” Maybe I didn’t fail this week afterall.
The Penultimate week of The 7 Experiment is Spending – Our money can only go to 7 places.