This is OUR trash. This is OUR earth. This is OUR opportunity. This is OUR future.
About 4 years ago, my family moved from Easton, PA to Zug, Switzerland and spent about 3 and a half years there and moved back this past July.
Both towns are similar in size population wise. For the most part, I loved experiencing a different place and a different culture than what I knew. Even though it was hard and often times I did feel like a plant that was uprooted and plopped down in the middle of nowhere to survive, in the end, I learned so much. One day, I think I would do it again somewhere else. I think Switzerland is a beautiful country with a lot of procedures that help keep the country both physically and financially sound. I also love America. I see it’s beauty too. The first 3 months back were like a happy reunion to all the things I missed. And just like with people, my heart will always have a place for certain memories, certain moments, certain places, and certain things. This doesn’t die, but the experience was added to the tapestry of my life and my family’s. And in exploring something different, this added to my wholeness and my definition and take on living WELL in these times.
But the one thing I have really been thinking about recently in all of this is our consumption, and how do we curb that while becoming more conscious to what we use and what we have and the difference between words like “need” and “want” or “essential” and “nonessential”? And how this ties to mental health and mindfulness. Sort of a waking up to our relationships with ourselves and our connection to each other even on the other side of the world. I realized in my cancer crisis when I started to heal, this also had an effect on those around me. We all have that ability to be a part of something greater. Something of purpose. Something that feels right within our souls. We now know more than ever how tied we actually are, how our health matters, and how fresh air is something we all have some control over keeping.
When I first learned that a roll of 10 trash bags in Switzerland was 25 francs (about 25 USD) – I was floored. I didn’t like it. But, I grew to understand, and even love! Instead of paying a monthly trash removal fee – you pay more for the bags which draws you to be in charge of how much trash you want to pay for which may filter your purchases and therefore, reduce consumption and encourage recycling. I feel like it was something that can be implemented quite easily to filter people’s purchasing habits. To make us think twice. Do I really need this? Is the packaging extreme? Will I use it or will it be one of those things I use once and toss? Not to mention whilst at the recycling center – I was also forced to slow down and learn a bit about the materials that I use. As one sits there putting one green glass bottle or whatever it may be, after another into the same bin – you are completely looking at what you are using and putting back. To me, I used this time to think about my usage, thank the planet, and feel connected. May sound corny as some probably looked at it as a monotonous task but I think the more we see what we use and explore why or what patterns we have – it points to our own healing. The workers at the facility were always quick to inform me when I placed something in the wrong bin or when they had decided to stop taking something because of a larger broader issue.
My point is mental health and physical health in America are both taxed. We also use a much larger percentage of the world’s resources in relation to people. My question is are we causing our own dis-ease by the pace of our lives and then using “stuff” to medicate? It doesn’t matter how much money the country has if we, the people, aren’t living WELL. One one hand, convenience and opportunity do have their place but has it gone to an extreme and is jeopardizing our health and our children? And what better way to take a look at decreasing consumption than by raising the price of that which contains it? The bag. Maybe you would be GLAD if someone did??