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At your disposal

Kate Moriarty  |  25 May 2020

‘Reduce, re-use, recycle’ might be a helpful mantra for family prayer.

This June marks the fifth anniversary of Laudato si’. We discussed this at Teams of Our Lady (No, it’s not a parish mixed-netball squad. It’s a group of married couples who meet once a month to pray and talk about marriage, parenting, and, if we’re feeling ambitious, historically groundbreaking papal encyclicals).

I read sections aloud to my husband as he drove through amber lights on the way to the meeting (we were running late). Some people do the required reading weeks before the meeting. Some people are strange.

The part that stuck with me is the idea of a ‘throwaway culture’. In our world, everything is disposable, even people. Lately, I’ve been making an effort to be less wasteful. It hasn’t been easy.

We’ve been trying out reusable things. Paper towels give way to cleaning rags. Plastic plates are replaced with picnicware. We have keep-cups now. They tend to keep a secret garden of days-old milk froth on their insides, a garden that remains undiscovered until we embark on a game of ‘What’s That Smell?’

Before we all went into isolation, I was in charge of Sensory Play at our Monday play-group. The favourite activity of our budding construction workers was to make buildings out of cardboard rolls and egg cartons. All week long, I’d find myself saying ‘don’t throw that out! That’s a cute little box!’ as my laundry quickly filled with empty cereal boxes and muesli bar packaging. The playgroup mums would smile their thanks with dead eyes as the toddler loaded their car with twenty-nine pieces of household waste all taped together into an unwieldy architectural masterpiece. You’re welcome!

Recently, my sister gave me a starter kit of beeswax wraps. After I stopped analysing the hidden message of this (‘Happy birthday! You’re an enviro-monster and you need to do better!’), I kind of fell in love with them. Have you seen these before? They are squares of fabric covered in wax. You use them to wrap food and cover bowls. And they have really cute colours and designs. I’ve been using them in the twins’ lunchboxes. It’s great because it doesn’t matter if I’ve run out of plastic wrap, I can wrap my daughters’ sandwiches and virtue-signal their kinder teachers at the same time.

Did you know you can recycle soft plastics? Like bread bags and biscuit wrappers? They have special bins for them at the supermarket. I’ve set up a box in the kitchen to gather it all together. When it’s full, I take it out to the garage. And that’s where it stays. Because I never remember to take it to the shops. I have fifty bags of soft plastics taking over the garage. When I’m not looking, they conspire with the five hundred and seventeen little boxes in my laundry, I know they do. Those stories you hear of people who live in squalor because they can’t bring themselves to throw out used teabags? This is how it starts!

I still have a long way to go. There are plenty of things I’m not doing right, and I’m pretty sure when Pope Francis spoke against the ‘throwaway culture’, he didn’t mean ‘become a case study for hoarding disorder’. For now, I guess it’s enough that I try to be a responsible steward of the resources I have been blessed with. And I will do that.

Just as soon as I work out what’s making that terrible old-coffee stench.

Image: Plastic-free eco products with reusable or sustainable zero waste products – Getty Images 

 

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