Living in the village has taught me many, many things over the past few years. I have learned to let go where I used to hold on, and I’ve learned to hold on or hold back at times where it’s no longer appropriate to let go. I’ve learned how to eat with one hand (even deboning a fish or unshelling a prawn), how to barbeque fish over hot coals and how to shower with a bucket. I’ve learned a language, a culture and an identity I didn’t know I had in me. I’ve learned how to appreciate faith, even if I don’t have a particular faith of my own.
I’ve learned a true appreciation for the luck of my birth rights, the luck that was handed to me just because I was born when and where I was. I grew up middle class. I grew up with clothes on my back and food in the fridge. There were hard years, where perhaps I was too aware of financial stress and bills piling up… but there were also many easy years where i was allowed to just be a child. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to have government support whilst i studied at university and the freedom to study what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted. These privileges weren’t earned. I didn’t do anything to receive them. They were inherited. They are privileges I am so honoured to be able to pass on to my daughter, and privileges I know my husband wishes he had had.
I’ve always been aware of recycling, in Australia we are very well educated when it comes to garbage disposal etc. Our government programs that actually DO the disposal haven’t quite caught up to our education, but that’s a whole different story. When I first moved to the village I was shocked that there is no garbage disposal system here. There is no dump. There are no trucks that come to collect your household waste. Waste get dumped into a hole in the front (or back) yard and gets unceremoniously burnt off when the hole gets too full. Good or bad, it’s the system here. And as I got used to the many cultural differences I have over time come to accept our rubbish hole.
The blessing of the rubbish hole is the new thinking it brings. It makes me consciously THINK about what goes into our household bin… knowing that I will have to live with seeing it in the hole for the next few months until it is burnt or covered with fallen palm fronds. We create very little household waste now. With food scraps going over the fence to the chickens, dogs, water buffalo and other wild (and not so wild) animals that pass by and using cloth nappies (who wants to live next to a pile of dirty nappies?) we are greatly reducing our impact on the local environment we are a step in the right direction.
The problem is the plastic. What can be done with all the plastic? Everything comes in a plastic bag, or two… when I go to the market (which post-Bo is not very often if at all) I try to take a canvas bag with me to avoid plastic, though some sellers are pretty insistent that their goods come wrapped in plastic. We donate our unwanted plastic bags to my mother in law who uses them at her house and in her food stall to sell her wares… is there another great use for unwanted plastic?
Maybe it takes knowing that you have to FACE your garbage every day to truly THINK about what you throw out? Whether you do already or not, it’s certainly worth considering isn’t it? We leave many things for our children. We leave them love and useless belongings. We leave them with lessons and letters and photographs. We leave them with a world that we as adults have helped create. Maybe we can’t change the politics or effect global change in a day (though I’m not saying we can’t in our lifetime… because if we all just STOOD UP we truly could) but one thing we can change is our own actions and how they impact the world around us. And maybe the simplest way to start really is by looking in your bin?
Let’s let these kids inherit the same beautiful earth that we did.