As you'll see in this video, it took me a while to share the footage from my waste audit. I was working to tackle feelings of guilt over the trash that I was producing and the harm that I felt I was causing on an environmental level. Basically, I was overcomplicating my relationship with waste and waste reduction to the point where it made it very hard for me to examine it, accept how I was producing trash, and work toward a way of managing my waste. Thankfully though, since I had conducted my waste audit and written in my journal about my goals, and then edited the video of the waste audit, I had no choice but to meditate on my choices and think about how I wanted to move forward on my waste reduction journey.
After filming, I put the video away for as long as I could. A few months passed and I knew: I had to complete the project I had started. I sat at my desk, staring at the footage I was attempting to edit, wanting nothing more than to trash the video and start from scratch, projecting myself as the environmental ideal rather than expressing my flaws for an audience. But I changed my mind. I decided to take a walk in a place that reminded me why environment should be a priority, I decided to draw attention to how I had been feeling instead of pushing those feelings down. I doubt that I am alone in feeling guilt, shame, and confusion over the waste I've produced. If these feeling are something you connect with, you aren't alone.
In my role as education coordinator for Keep Chadron Beautiful, I find the only way I can operate is to focus on just doing a little bit better within a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly frame. I might learn a little bit more or implement a few better practices in my life, and to do so in a way that allows them to become habit. If we try to achieve great, substantial changes in the course of a four day weekend they don't tend to be the changes that stick. However, numerous small scale choices, over broad expanses of time--those stick. Those make a difference. And when others--our children, our friends, or our coworkers--see those changes, we often can become leaders and bring about much greater change. But, and this is important: we must be gentle with ourselves as we grow.
Stef Glass is the Education Coordinator for Keep Chadron Beautiful. She graduated from Chadron State College with her BA in English Literature and minors in History and Creative Writing in May of 2018.