Trash talk

You may have seen the Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., on Today or read about them in Sunset magazine though, if you’re like the Johnsons, you might not have any magazines in your house.

The Johnsons have come to be known as a zero-waste family. They generate no trash and very little recycling. You can read for yourself how this family’s desire to live simply and cleanly has decreased their contribution of refuse to our planet. Admirable, I’d say. And guilt-provoking.

I’m a little ashamed of our household’s size 16 carbon footprint. We are the antithesis of the Johnsons. I’m not sure exactly how two humans and two felines can generate enough weekly waste to fill the Johnsons’ bins for more than a year. See for yourself. Not counting the bags of yard waste that already await pick-up at the curb, we’ve filled a 20-gallon can and an even larger sized Hefty bag in less than a week. Plus this large recycling bin and a paper bag’s worth of newspapers joining the yard waste at the curb as we speak.

Granted, we did a little spring cleaning over the weekend. For example, in preparation for our kitchen project, I decided to thin out our spice collection. “They” say kitchen spices go bad after six months and that we should discard them after that time. “They” would probably also say that the bottles should be recycled and the spices themselves composted or trashed, but that presumes the spices aren’t permanently adhered to their receptacles after years of neglect.

As someone who keeps her spices in alphabetical order, I’d appear to have a good grip on this. Over the weekend, I went through all my spices, A to Z. I discarded four bottles of curry powder, while being hard pressed to remember when I’d ever used curry powder in my life. Maybe they were part of my husband’s trousseau. Cream of Tartar? I’m not sure I even know what that is.

I swear there was a bottle of whole cloves that came from the house I grew up in, which we vacated in 1976. Somehow I manage to go through several bottles of chili powder a year, and yet can barely twist off the gummed up lids of nearly a quarter of these fastidiously filed spices. I had samples of every Spice Islands and McCormick’s label design of the last 30 years. Never mind all the other relics I came across while cleaning out my kitchen for the first time in 20 years.

Perhaps the Today show would like to interview me.

9 Comments

Filed under Food, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio

9 responses to “Trash talk

  1. We are very lucky that our community has an extensive recycling centre. Our landfill transit site is also heavy into recycling – much of the waste from our renovations can be dumped into appropriate bins for reuse. I compost all vegetable scraps. That doesn’t leave us very much stuff that actually goes into the landfill.

  2. Jo

    This cracked me up — I have actually hesitated to throw out a spice because it was my mother’s — who has been dead for 18 years.

  3. Dianne

    Cream of tarter is basically the difference between baking powder and baking soda. I use it most often when whipping egg whites because it helps to stabilize the foam.

  4. Nan

    You had me feeling a bit guilty about my contribution to planet pollution until I read “As someone who keeps her spices in alphabetical order”. Now I’m feeling pretty good about myself.

  5. Polly

    This cracked me up. I have decided to put ‘tackling the spice rack’ on my to-do list.

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