redeeming the by-products

This is a sight familiar to us all, the daily bag of rubbish to be sorted and recycled.

During 2011 I walked back and forth between our green bin exactly 29,432 times which would have taken me 3/4’s of the way to the moon if I had walked in a straight line.

There is something deeply troubling about trying to live less greedily because basically it seems like there is no escape from waste.

There is no escape from the bain of my life, the 2L milk carton and 400ml tins of plum tomatoes. There is no escape from the paper that clogs up the bins.

John Seymour, author of ‘The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency’ (a magic book) said

‘The dustman need never visit the smallholder’

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams went even further with his statement that

‘God doesn’t do waste’

and William Morris penned these words.

‘I tell you that the very essence of competitive commerce is waste’

So perhaps waste is a sign of our sinfulness or the way that THE SYSTEM has got us trapped and bound up, that we’re slaves to THE WORLD.

Perhaps a trip to the bin might require us to be humble because it

a) reminds us that we’re not God and we’re trapped in an oppressive system that we can never hope to escape unless by some miracle
b) that we’re living on a planet of limited resources that is dying no matter what we try or how wisely we try to live.

But at the same time  (and in my determination not to the let the darkness eat me up) there is redemption of all things and ‘God doesn’t do waste.’

There is the possibility of redemption and recreation even in what we might throw in the dustbin or discard as waste.

G.K Chesterton writes something in ‘What’s Wrong With the World’ that I could read all day, something that makes me want to go out and redeem the rubbish

“The most prosaic thing about the house is the dustbin…..If a man could undertake to make use of all things in his dustbin he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare. When science began to use by-products; when science found that colors could be made out of coaltar, she made her greatest and perhaps her only claim on the real respect of the human soul.
Now the aim of the good woman is to use the by-products, or, in other words, to rummage in the dustbin.”

Redeeming the by-products, rummage in the bin. Make rocket stoves out of tin cans, plant herbs in milk cartons, make compost.


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