Island life is different than the mainland. It’s slower – and cooler (at least it seems that way after last week’s scorching weather in Vancouver). It makes you forget about things like technology. Which is why I haven’t written this blog in so long – I’m pretending to be an islander.
But there is one thing you can’t escape from, even here at a cabin in the woods and near the ocean. Garbage. If anything, the amount of garbage is accentuated by the knowledge that we are on an island, and what comes onto the island must be ferried off. Hornby Island is the type of place where they charge a dollar each for plastic bags at the grocery store. A sign at the island depot boasts that they have been recycling for more than 30 years. What was once a local landfill is now a demonstration garden. The rusted and twisted incinerator, long since decommissioned is consigned to a far corner of the lot. The recycling area takes glass, plastic, cardboard, and metal at no charge. At the free store, people bring what-have-you to donate, taking other treasures home in their place.
The only thing you pay for is to dump garbage into the shipping containers that are hauled off island. Yet even here, where people pay per bag and it is free to recycle, I saw paper spilling out of garbage bags. Paper that could have been recycled. What a waste.
Not that we’re perfect. Since the project ended, we still divert the majority of our waste, but I’ve noticed a serious increase in the amount of soft plastics we produce. Cheese, tofu, weiners, burgers. It seems like the foods of a BBQ summer are all entrapped in plastic. I’m not sure how we managed to avoid them all last summer, because now they jump out at me everywhere – convenience foods.
Now that we don’t have “the rules” hanging over our heads, we are technically free to buy whatever we want, in whatever packaging we want, but it doesn’t feel that way. When we buy food in packaging, I feel like we’re cheating. Our soft plastics bin is overflowing this month.
Sure, we can recycle soft plastic if we take it to a private depot, but that’s besides the point. The point is that only a short month after our project has ended, we’ve started to slip back to our “old ways”. Almost every time I shop I buy a single “luxury item”. It used to be more along the lines of a sinfully sweet treat, and now it’s usually “something wrapped in plastic”. Something that I could either make at home or find unpackaged if I was only willing to search at another store or in another neighbourhood.
Although, when I think about it now, I guess the idea that buying local farmers cheese in plastic wrap is a “super special treat” is kind of funny. In the grand scheme of things, it could be worse.