Balancing Recycling vs. Reduce vs. Reuse

RRRSome who view my web site to look at, and read about, my photography might think that I am going off topic, and they would be correct if my site were only about photography.  It isn’t.  My blog is more about me and it just happens that photography is my hobby.  Those who read what I have written over the years will understand.

Another aspect of me personally is that I think that most of us, at least in the U.S., are extravagant when it comes to use of resources, and therefore we need to reduce, recycle, reuse, and simplify.  The question is what does that mean and how do we do it?

If you look up the definition of minimalism you will find that it is a reductive style or school of modern music utilizing only simple sonorities, rhythms, and patterns, with minimal embellishment or orchestrational complexity.  Lately I have been thinking about that definition and how it applies to the way I make coffee.

During the many years that I worked I usually consumed about 60 ounces of coffee each day, but lately I have reduced that to around 40 ounces a day …. more on cold days when I am stuck inside, less as the weather gets warmer and I walk more.  The best way for me to reduce all aspects of making my coffee would be to drink less, and I hope to do that; but it is more complex than that.

Not too long ago, I used a drip coffee maker.  The problem was that I didn’t drink that much at one time and the coffee wasn’t good after a short time sitting in the coffee maker.  I then decided to get a Keurig single cup coffee maker.  That worked except for the waste generated with the plastic and metal foil cups which aren’t recyclable.  I then decided to use the pour-over technique to make a single cup of coffee, and I even started to grind my own coffee.  I liked that method after I perfected the amount of coffee to use and how to pour it; but, I had been using a plastic holder for paper filters.  I then found a good dual mesh stainless steel holder for the coffee in which I didn’t need to use filters.  I had finally managed to make a good cup of coffee with minimal waste, but I still had problems.

Homewood prefers that I don’t put the coffee grounds down the drain and I can’t have an outdoor compost pile.  With each cup of coffee that I made I had to dispose of the grounds into the trash and wash out the filter, and where I boiled the water and poured the coffee was at one location and the sink and the trash can were at other different locations, much to my wife’s dismay.  When we were both in the kitchen we were often in each others way and I occasionally dripped coffee residue which I then had to clean up.  In the interest of not adding to the community’s trash pile I had adopted a complex messy operation that wasn’t as simple as I would like.

I finally decided that I really needed to drink a lot less coffee and/or apply the above definition to how I would minimalize my efforts and resources.  I decided to go for a reductive style or process of making coffee utilizing only simple processes, rhythms, and patterns with minimal embellishment or complexity.  In my case, I have gone back to using a Keurig coffee maker and buying K-cups with less time and effort on my part.  I will try to drink less to cut the cost and waste.  Those focusing only on recycling might not approve of my changes, but sometimes as we age we need to take a larger methodological view that includes all aspects of what we do and shift the compromise towards reducing what we use and do.

I also recently sold my Fujifilm camera and its lenses and replaced it with a used Olympus camera.  It was another case of reduce, recycle, and reuse.  My process may take a while and get messy along the way but I am satisfied as long as I continue to simplify and reduce.