using stir stick

Do you ever think of the waste in your life? Of the trash? I am hyper-aware these days of the things brought into our home, of the things leaving. We are recyclers, we just recently started composting and use cloth napkins in place of paper ones. And while these things are each commendable and good, it simply doesn’t feel like enough. There is so much more we can do. A clothesline, buying more local produce…I could go on and on.

What about this disposable tea cup on the table at my left as I sit here in Books-A-Million? (Olivia is enjoying herself at a Michaels’ home school craft class down the street.)
What about the paper sleeve used to keep my hand protected from the heat?
What about this pretty red stir stick? And to make it worse, I accidentally got two…

Just one month ago or maybe even days ago I would have tossed the whole lot into the trash can before leaving and not given it more than a passing thought. It is a small thing, a small cup. It is supposed to be disposable? What is the big deal? Today I cannot. Tears actually fill my eyes and I feel like a big ole baby as I sit here and think of the Earth and how we mistreat her every single day. I sit here with a couple arguing in whispers a few tables away. “Why do you always fuss…you just can’t get it together…maybe one day you will…why did you wait…so consumed…I don’t know….I don’t know…” The man is a person of few words and he listens as his pretty companion goes on and on. They are surrounded by a Valentine’s display but they are not feeling the love. I am drawn to them yet I tune them out. They have two paper cups and a newspaper.
A beautiful stooped elderly woman with a bun walks by the window. She reminds me of my great grandmother Abigail. Granny Abigail was a very poor woman who reused things out of necessity. The feed sack became a dress which became a shirt for her daughter which became at last a piece in a quilt. Nothing was taken for granted. I wish I could have her back for a moment and give her a hug for all the things she taught me.

A baby laughs. Cars zip by. A woman shouts, “thank you Jesus!” We are all connected. Wow. I mean WOW! Isn’t this huge? Do you feel the beauty of this fact sometimes? Does it make you feel strong and empowered and full of LOVE? Can you feel the connection with the ground beneath you and the sky above you? So each small change isn’t so small at all. I am now feeling as if it perfectly perfect that this small paper cup is a big deal.

Some artists make wonderful inspired creations from trash. I wonder can I? Have you done this? If you have will you share with me a link to your work?
Hmmm…Let’s look at this cup in a new way. The sleeve is my favorite with its bumpy texture and lovely deep shade of red. The end of the stir stick would make a nice small circle stamp…..
It feels good to change my thinking even in this small way. It makes me wonder what else is waiting for me today if I am open to it.



Everwild said...

Rethink, reuse, recycle, repair -- we're trying to do more of this every day. I don't know about Books-A-Million, but when we have coffee at Barnes-n-Noble, Jon and I ask for porcelain mugs. We use cloth bags for shopping (well, we're getting more consistent about using them). My next step towards greener living is biodegradable kitchen and leaf bags. Not very artsy. Think about it, though, every tin or book you alter is one less tin or book in a landfill.

Woot, we win! :)

bridgette said...

i am definitely a recycling freak! Well, i try my best and I am not 100%. but at least I try.

I have a worm bin where I can throw my eggshells, coffee filters, vegetable and fruit scraps. I just love the idea of using every last bit and turning it into something useful. Something that nourishes the plants in my garden.

Hope you are doing well.

Judy Wise said...

So glad to hear from you again and what a good post. Yes, we are all connected and if we each lived like we wished the whole world lived we would extend human life on the planet. We carry cloth bags, have recycled forever (old hippies), buy from 2nd hand stores and grow our own food, composting the waste. We are all on the learning path. Thank you for being part of the solution.

Judy Wise said...

Yo, I got so carried away that I forgot to say how much I love the canvas. Those ladies have nice 'pins' and they aren't afraid to show 'em. hee hee

Holly Loves Art said...

A beautiful piece of art and a beautiful post. I loved reading about your Grandmother. Sometimes I wish we could go back to those simpler days before turning into consumers, electronic overload, all that stuff... I recycle and am lucky to live in an area where it is BIG and it seems many people try to do their part.

Happy creating and recylcing!

Take care,

Michelle Johnson said...

This has been a topic that I have been thinking a lot about lately. I can totally relate to the disposable cup. I own an espresso stand and I see the waste all the time. I hide the cup sleeves and only give them out if someone asks. I also sell soup, and have moved to using reusable microwave safe bowls so that the customers can take the bowl home and use it. But, mostly they end up in the garbage. I am still thinking about how to change things in that respect. And, as far as art goes, I have tried making items while being less wasteful. Last year I got as far as making a journal (http://www.etsy.com/view_transaction.php?transaction_id=5103380) but it seemed to take so much more time trying to make it look presentable. It's much easier to use new materials. But of course that is the easy way out. Your post has inspired me to keep thinking about this issue and to see what I can do to minimize waste while living my daily life, including creating art. Thanks.

Ro Bruhn said...

Most of my art consists of recycling, I make found objects jewellery, using lots of other peoples throw away pieces and re-inventing them. I also paint used tea bags and work them into my collages and altered books. Foil from chocolate wrappers, the wrappers that the chopsticks come in with take away food, paper napkins, the inside of envelopes, foam meat trays for stamps, the list goes on, they all get used in my art. It gives you a great feeling, knowing you've used something that would be thrown away, to create something that will hopefully continue on for many years.

Regina Gansen Rooks said...

A thoughtful post. Those little stirrers are handy at the art table. Dip in paint with your finger on top to make a dropper. (Take your finger off when you get to where you want the paint to go.)
They are a handy stirrer for paint, too.
As for the paper insulation, I keep them. Use as a stamp or a rubbing/texture plate.
I'm always saving different packaging that catches my eye to use in art or as a tool.
I guess I don't think of myself as a greenie. I'm more of a crow who is attracted to shiny & interesting things. LOL

Amy Wagner said...

I think this post is a wonderful, magical, truer than true post!! I agree with you about the recycling and the real point of recycling -- not to use so much of unneeded stuff in the first place. My Mom grew up during the depression and she knew the needed things were gathered at a bare minimum.The wanted things were few and far between -yet appreciated much, much more when within reach.
My Grandma did the same as yours- use and reuse fabric until it is used up. White sheets when repaired one too many times became half curtains in the kitchen window and then nightgowns trimmed in reused lace from something else.
I like the way you think!!

Nancy Myrick said...

I think it's great that you're aware of the little things that can be done to recycle. I'm a pack rat and find it hard to throw things away when I can think of a thousand other uses for an object. I recycle at home but I get depressed when I see how much waste there is at my work. I work for a large company that leaves the lights on at night and throws away paper instead of recycling. I've tried talking to management to get some recycled paper or a recycling program but it's never anyone's concern. Atleast the company stopped buying papertowels for the bathroom (but that was a budget solution). Anyways, I get really worked up just thinking about it. We might be abusing the earth now...but the earth will always exist and continue on. People may not...