Avoiding other people bringing garbage into my home

March 8, 2017 by Joshua
in Nature

Since I’ve grown to love cooking so much and have taken to calling my stews my famous no-packaging vegetable stews, I invite people over more than ever. Cooking my famous no-packaging stews tastes better, is more convenient, costs less, pollutes less, and is better by nearly all my relevant values.

Read some reviews of the experience.

People who come over often feel compelled to bring something. I’ve been emailing the following message.

By the way, no need to bring anything, but if you do, I avoid packaging, so please don’t bring anything packaged—no bags, bottles, rubber bands, cans, etc. That usually means fresh fruit or vegetables carried in bags you brought to the store, but as I said, bringing nothing is fine. Here’s some background: Avoiding Food Packaging, plus links within.

I’m trying to reduce this outcome: Scientists Find Most Trashed Spot on Earth: A Once-Pristine Paradise.

My goal is to prompt a new experience I think people will like: to (re)discover fresh fruits and vegetables free of plastic and otherwise unmolested by industry. If it feels onerous, I prefer nothing to packaging. I try to be polite and not presumptuous.

Sadly, people still bring packaging. Sunday evening a friend who had a backpack with him in the store bought a new canvas bag to carry three bundles of kale, despite my sending the above message.

I don’t understand what it takes for people to stop using unnecessary packaging. Stores will keep providing it as long as people accept it.

Most of this beach is covered with food containers that people probably fantasized they’d reuse or recycle. Not one was necessary. That’s where packaging goes—yours, mine, everyone’s. Who knows, maybe one of the containers is one you paid for.

Plastic on the beach

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6 responses on “Avoiding other people bringing garbage into my home

  1. Interesting – I bet having a “pack out what you pack in” policy (i.e. The Boy Scouts leave no trace moto) may work to impose memorable feedback to your guests. This tangentially leads into another question I have been considering about how someone with a minimalist philosophy can have a large scale impact on motivating others. For example, I bet you would sell more books if you went on a book tour. However the travel required would be in opposition to a core belief. So the question is, can there be a true MLK type leader figure for environmental issues? The solution I see is inspiring others to lead their own local communities. This may be a whole other post but would love to hear any other thoughts because I can see this is a goal you are striving for. Thanks!

    • Though my practice looks similar, my philosophy isn’t minimalist, but responsibility for my actions and empathy for the people my actions affect, at least regarding pollution. Also, my feeling toward garbage isn’t so much pack out what you pack in, but I don’t want it in my house.

      People generally get it regarding meat. I don’t just want people taking out what meat they bring into my place. I prefer they don’t bring it in at all. I don’t remember the last time someone brought meat into my house. Somehow people don’t feel that way about plastic, cardboard, etc.

      On the flip side, I don’t believe one has to be perfect from the start. Part of the emotion I feel toward all the pollution is how much I polluted before and still do now.

      Can there be an MLK-type leader with the environment is a great question, though I believe the bottleneck isn’t the leader, but something earlier: a strategy. Before MLK was nonviolent civil disobedience, which Gandhi showed worked, as did Thoreau. I don’t think civil disobedience would work with pollution because the problem isn’t human laws that people find unjust. It’s natural laws whose effects take decades to see.

      The challenge I see is to create a strategy like civil disobedience. I don’t see one yet. Any ideas?

  2. Not to be snarky, but perhaps you should take your own advice and let people make their own packaging decisions.

    As for the email, if you really don’t want packaging, you likely have to stop it at the “don’t bring anything!” stage. Having a section like “but if you do, [legalese]” is too much work and people won’t follow it.

    The message is simple: Don’t bring anything! Only bring yourself! You’re all we need to make this party great!

    • Fruit and vegetables work great! People like bringing food.

      The issue here isn’t their decisions, but people bringing garbage into my home. If I don’t send any message, they keep bringing unnecessary garbage. I can ask them to take their garbage when they leave, but often they bring something I won’t eat. This preemptive action seems more effective.

      Years ago people considered not eating meat fringe. Today, at least in Manhattan, it’s standard to ask if people eat meat. I suspect in the future people will ask if they eat packaged food or not.

    • After my last response a friend happened to come over for dinner, which reminded me of the greater value of not bringing garbage over.

      As much as I talk about what I’m avoiding (garbage and fiber-removed foods), the value and purpose my cooking is positive. It’s about what you get — fruits and vegetables close to right out of the ground. No one who comes over has had such simple food and they’re all pleasantly surprised.

      Asking them not to bring garbage from that perspective is like asking them not to smoke a pack of cigarettes or eat a bag of Doritos before coming over. It’s their business what they consume, but it will kill their palettes and they’ll miss the subtlety and nuances. In my case, they’ll miss the point of my cooking. I never would have expected to love the root vegetables of the northeast in the winter, for example. They’re incredibly delicious. Plus I understand they help with the soil in farms.

      I know people love the taste of tomatoes flown in from around the world. That’s their prerogative, though we all have to live with their pollution.

      I’ve learned to love local, seasonal, fresh, family grown food, minimally processed before reaching me. I’m trying to share that love. If it comes out sounding restrictive, part of the reason I posted about it here is to learn how to communicate the positive experience underneath.

  3. Pingback: The No-Packaging Diet - Healthy Crush

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