Piles of trash, mountains of consumer waste, spilling out of the trash cans and dumpsters, into the gutters and streets. I’ve played my part and continue to accrue plastic containers, glass jars, paper bags and shrinkwrapping. Insidious garbage, filtering into our consciousness until it becomes reflected in everything we do and everything we are, down to our shoes. We eat it, breath it, produce it and will die as it.
I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, although I can’t honestly say whether this is because I find the practice of pronouncement to be insipid or if I’m just certain to fail and would rather keep the humiliation of my life down to a minimum. People always ask and I snap back, I don’t play that game, and people always recoil into a cowering, doe-eyed spectre. Feeling bad I’ll ask what their resolutions are and as I’m told about trying to be a better person, trying to work on their weakness, I wish I wasn’t such a reactionary asshole.
Who can argue with attempts to be a better human being? Of course I would like to be more compassionate, patient, understanding and giving but even as I admit this there is that thought that these objectives aren’t to be reserved for a drunken hilltop purge, staring out over city lights while champagne corks pop and whistle through the air. Being a better person is a daily revolution of self which requires constant change, vigilance and work.
As 2008 swan-dived into a gory mess a feeble thought began to worry the back of my mind. Perhaps there was something that I would like to be so bold as to declare for this new year, if only to myself. And so I quietly expanded upon something which I had started to try some months back and decided that from now on I would try to change in a very simple but obvious manner. That it’s the most copout, paint-by-numbers revolutionary tactic isn’t allowed to shame me into giving up.
Originally it was yogurt that bothered me, or more specifically the heaps of plastic containers I acquired from purchasing it. I wondered if I could make my own, and although someone very politely and patiently explained how this could easily be done, I have been too afraid and preoccupied to make an attempt. The initial gesture was to stop buying salsa, cease my participation in the little plastic cup with a little plastic security sheet across the top, and make it myself. It’s not as good as what I used to get but I guess the more I practice the better it will become, and I have stuck to not buying any.
But why stop there? Tea– I drink tea but I persist in buying boxes of tea bags. Why? I have a strainer and loose tea is widely available in a variety of blends. No more cardboard, no more paper, no more string, no more staples, no more cheap plastic cellophane. I have wild fantasies about being able to make my own tortillas and cease this endless chase of plastic bags and little ties; actually I have this wild fantasy of convincing someone’s Mexican grandmother to live in my kitchen and spend her days pounding out fresh corn tortillas but I don’t think there’s a Craigslist forum to seek that service. Pickle jars? Don’t you just throw cucumbers in with brine and spices and they make themselves? Can I make my own mustard? There’s no way in hell I would try to make mayonnaise but I think I could handle experiments in mustard.
The real sticking point for me is bread. Honestly I don’t think the over here could really handle the baking and I’ve never been very good at making it anyways. It’s always too dense, streaks of flour remain uncooked, the crust too hard. Why is it impossible to find a fucking bakery where I could spare the bag and use my own instead of relying on stores? You would think that San Francisco would have bakeries on every corner but it’s just liquor stores, the same as any other center of civilization hell bent on drowning in a sea of trash.
And so I will try, every day, to make my tiny and insignificant contribution to the betterment of society. I will try not to be lazy and rely on prefabricated concoctions easily available at the local supermarket. I will try to make time in my busy schedule to allow for the production of simple essentials. I will try to keep an open mind when attempting some replacement for potato chips that doesn’t require a disposable vessel. If by doing so I find myself more compassionate, patient, understanding and giving, then maybe there is hope in the world after all. But first, let’s see if I can get this yogurt concept down.