Drunk on the luxuries of the world, the financial crisis of this past few years has called us to take a sober look at things, to define what we really value. There are changes to be made if we are to stabilize economies, communities and our own minds.
There is an invitation in these circumstances. I believe if we are listening, we are being asked to step up as individuals, to engage our lives more consciously, each one of us matters. The things we do, the choices we make matter. What are the impacts of our choices on our larger global community? How do we care for our responsibilities, each other and ourselves? Perhaps, one carefully considered act at a time.
I am inspired by the action of Patriot Disposal Inc. a local company serving the Verde Valley and Prescott. They have stepped up. They have created a dynamic win/win for our community and our planet. I hear there are others doing it too. A few days ago I walked my carefully sorted trash and recyclables out to the bins. I didn’t see the distinctly recognizable red top of the recycling bin. Inquiring of a fellow tenant I am told it all goes in one bin now and is hand sorted at the other end.
At first blush, I am skeptical. Is he sure? Has this company possibly given up on recycling? In this day and age? Personally, I think recycling is brilliant. Although it better serves our environment if we reduce and reuse, the benefits of recycling over disposal are many; a conscious choice based on what we know to be the effects of our behavior to date.
A committed recycler myself, I can not help but notice a continuing waste of resources, bottles, paper, recyclable bits casually disposed of everywhere I go. A vast number of everyday products are100% recyclable. At one time they were destined only for a landfill or one of those plastic islands gathering out at sea. Now they can become a myriad of products regularly in demand. I call the number emblazoned on the side of the can. A knowledgeable woman explains the challenges of collecting and disposing of the trash and the recycling separately, noting as well the lack of people participating in the recycling program. When we know that much of what we dispose of each day is 100% recyclable and the resources to make it happen are nearby, I marvel at how much ends up in the trash. Apparently, so did Patriot Disposal Company.
They have opened their own recycling center. The trash is gathered in one pass through the neighborhood and hand sorted at the other end. They have created jobs, the new facility employs 24 people and there is 100% participation in the program, every bin is sorted and the recyclables are recycled and the trash is trashed. Patriot Disposal addressed immediate concerns for efficient business, the needs of the community and the environment. A win/win/win if I ever saw one.
Those that see its value and want to recycle have created ways to make it happen. Those that don’t wish to bother don’t have to and it still gets done. I call that a kind of harmony.
Recycling can be a moment-by-moment practice that challenges us to stay present. Recycling begins with small everyday items that are almost invisible, tossed aside when finished, a crumpled paper, a plastic bottle. How many times a day do we handle these items? Do we give any thought to where this paper or this bottle goes when we are finished with it? When millions of these items each day are tossed aside, what is the impact? How do our simplest actions support the world we are committed to creating? How do they impact the world we are leaving to our future generations?
Small acts add up. The effect can be dramatic. I see it happen in my paintings, each stroke of the brush a simple gesture, one after another, an image emerges, an entire story unfolds. What are we committed to creating? What are we each willing to do? I invite myself each morning to walk my spiritual practice through each moment, up off the cushion, mindful, aware. Each evening I check in, how might I have been more conscious today? I cannot change what has already happened, its gift is in what it teaches me. The future holds no certainty, the moment of power is right here, right now.
What will I do with this moment? What will you?