Thursday, January 6, 2011

Be it Resolved...

Happy New Year!  Still here, just crawling out from a post-visitor-and-holiday haze.

Since I last wrote, It's Kili Time HQ has hosted my dad and his partner, organized a baby shower, converted to raw milk, vacationed in Zanzibar, supplied Arusha with holiday dips and treats and played technology catch-up via the world of iTouch apps (thanks Santa!).  Not that I am  using these things as an excuse for not writing but more as a preview of what topics will likely be covered in future posts.

But in the meantime, in the spirit of the New Year, I will share with you my Resolution for 2011.

Be More Resourceful and Less Wasteful
My inspiration for this started late last year at the art exhibition of my friend Martina.  Martina is from Switzerland - a place where many and probably all art supplies you could ever imagine are available.  But she was living in Arusha for a year and a half with her family while her husband conducted his PhD research.  She has since returned to Switzerland.  Although I never asked this, I imagine the art tools she was used to working with in Switzerland were in short supply to non-existent in Arusha so she made the most of what was available and created very inspired and beautiful pieces of art, using kanga cloth and bottle tops (yes, soda is still sold in glass reusable bottles here). Behold:


The bottle top map is titled Ecological Footprint and its a reflection of each country's human demand upon the ecosystems of their respective land mass.  Martina chose to use bottle tops as her medium because she was inspired, ironically, by the local rule of thumb: one person's trash is another person's treasure.  It was very moving.

But I can't say that this was my first instance with recycling.  Trash disposal here is not as neat and tidy as it is at home.  Ultimately it all gets burnt but not before it's picked over multiple times for any little treasures like old batteries or empty yogurt containers.  It may sound primitive but I wonder if this system is any better or worse than what we have in the States (any guesses?).  Even before my shampoo bottles end up in the incinerator (I only wish it was an incinerator!  It's really just a heap at the corner whose smoke flows straight into my house!), they are fished out by the staff for personal use which makes me super self-conscious.  What is a girl to do with the baby monitor that was blown out by the wrong electric current 3 months in to our stay?  Is it sad that I have seriously contemplated amassing all our "trash" (broken clippers, baby monitors, dysfunctional sippy cups, broken toys) into a duffel bag that we will bring home to America and put into some recycling program there?  It just feels embarrassing to offer something I perceive as worthless to the staff.  I can thank my undergrad institution for that lovely dose of guilt!

All that is just fluff and background for why I have chosen the resolution I chose.  I plan to be more mindful of the waste I create and do my best to reduce.reuse.recycle - my time included!  I even got a head start on it last year by switching from long life milk (which costs nearly $2/liter) to raw milk that I pasteurize at home (and costs fifty cents/liter).  I'm working on perfecting thick, creamy yogurt also so I can stop buying it (mostly to avoid the plastic container waste, because the yogurt itself is damn good!).  And lastly, we FINALLY planted a ginormous vegetable garden on the vacant plot adjoining ours which will help me use only what I need and not let vegetables and herbs wither as I'm prone to do.  Barbara Kingsolver I am not, but I figure this very fortunate lifestyle I have cannot be squandered and I should make the most of it.  Living in such a mindful fashion will create order (which I love!) and predictability and my hope (fingers crossed) that all other priorities (family, exercise, writing, reading, friendships etc) will fall in place as a result!


  1. Guilt is not something I particularly associate with Quakerism, but you are sure right that it is a legacy of our undergraduate institution. I wonder why?

  2. thanks for a wonderful read, now off to plan my compost bin!

  3. Nor do I, Cara. Probably more a combination of social justice emphasis and being an impressionable 18yr old!

    Nora, andale comadre! Luchamos juntos!