Most people would think my excitement over garbage day is borderline neurotic. They couldn’t be any more wrong. My excitement is completely neurotic. I count bags per week and closely scour the outgoing trash for recyclables. I monitor the ebb and flow of waste in our home like a Al Gore monitors greenhouse gas emissions.
There are people, heroes really, who come to my house and take away all of the things that I don’t want to deal with anymore. They simplify my life by removing clutter and distractions on a regular basis. I am an anti-hoarder in many ways and we keep Goodwill stocked with our donated still-usables.
I recently moved from a city with a weekly garbage pickup to one with TWICE weekly pickup- and I am properly ashamed to be excited by the fact that they will pick up as much as you pile on the curb in my new town. Our household can create a lot of garbage. There are two adults, three kids in their double digits, and multiple pets (unless you are the landlord and then there are no pets and only one kid). We were capable of making an immense amount of garbage. Even after over-filling both recycle bins, we would still have to stuff our garbage cans and make a pile with anything that didn’t fit.
When you are on a low carb, high protein diet there are a lot of Styrofoam containers and bloody plastic wrappers. The garbage can was a toxic place and part of my neuroses came from not wanting a bag of dead animal leftovers decomposing in the yard or house any longer than it had to. Missing a garbage pickup has had some disgustingly horrible consequences that I will not ruin your day by describing, but suffice it to say, there was gagging.
Since diet Pepsi has no carbs, by law, it was legal in my old life and I drank ridiculous amount of it. Our recycle bins were always overflowing with aluminum soda cans, plastic 2-liter bottles, and the occasional tuna can. It was a source of pride that I was such a conscientious recycler. I was sure that the extra effort made up for three kids worth of disposable diapers.
However, the last three and a half weeks have shown some remarkable changes in the quantity and quality of our garbage. I was the only person in my family to go to a completely plant based life so far, but all of my supportive family has drastically reduced their intake of meat, eggs, and dairy. I am amazed to see that we are literally producing less than half of the amount of garbage we used to. You know that is amazing because it is bolded AND italicized.
The recycle bins are getting dusty. We hardly fill half of one each week because the main recyclable from our old life isn’t a factor anymore. The smell around the garbage can does not attract flies, stray cats or vultures anymore. This does wonders for our social life and has even caused the county health inspector to second guess his belief that our family’s garbage would be “the death of us all.” Such a nice man, a little dramatic, but nice.
Taking the place of the recycle bins and the gruesome meat wrappers are pails and pails of compost. We have a great compost bin that is producing great soil which is making the food I will be eating in about four weeks. Even vegans participate in the circle of life. We just skip the middleman… or animal in this case.
Going vegan (or at least moving in the direction of living a plant based lifestyle) has financial benefits and health benefits aplenty. Like the surprise surplus of energy and the general feeling of well being, the shift in garbage is just another in the long list of unexpected bonuses that we have begun to enjoy as a result of making this drastic change. Imagine 10,000 new vegan households and the impact that would make on the rapidly filling landfills. It is fun to imagine, but the reality is that you can only make the choice for yourself and then hope that 9,999 other households follow your good example. Or at least do a better job of keeping the vulture population at bay.