Better recycle that!

Better recycle that!

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Somehow it fell to Auntie Ruth—who on good days can barely organize her own desk—to organize a fall reunion of like-minded activists from back in the day. It started modest and grew like a weed, with 60 people coming from as far away as Spain. “Oh my God,” said Aunt Ruth. OMG!

This clan met in college, becoming active because of the divestment of public funds from apartheid and environmental issues. They were folks from Davis and Sacramento. Now, many years later, everyone’s hair is grayer and shorter, the drugs are fewer, the food is more anticipated, better tasting and—damn right—local.

We strove for zero waste at the afternoon event (“striving” being the operative word). It’s a game of subtraction—subtraction being good, addition being bad.

No paper, no envelopes—the invites and organizing took place on Facebook. We caught a break or two—a local co-op loaned us its tub of reusable dishware, and we rented the wine glasses. Points are subtracted for this. While the wine, beer and hooch came in recyclable glass, the bubbled water came in less-desirable plastic. Points are added.

Points subtract for the local seasonal food (potlucked and from a caterer who prides himself thusly), and we emphasized finger foods (less cutlery that needs washing). We did use paper napkins, not cloth—recycled, but still, points are added. Recycling bottles and cardboard? We had that one down years ago.

Composting? At party’s—i.e., wit’s—end, Auntie Ruth was going to just throw the inedible leftovers away. A Humboldter scolded and promptly collected a handsome bucket of compost. Ruth gently suggested that Humbodlt could take the bucket with her all the way back to Arcata. And anyway, there was a local intervention, and whatever’s left of our party is now rotting somewhere in Davis. That is to say, mulching.

Auntie Ruth was lying in bed later that night, remembering the people from the reunion, realizing how people don’t change much—or maybe it’s just really good people like these find their way early and stay that way.

And on the radio (Living on Earth) came a profile of students at eastern colleges who just held a National Day of Action, pressuring their administrations to divest their endowment holdings from fossil-fuel stocks.

Auntie Ruth’s memory is dim. There was that chant we used over and over, to a clapping of hands: “A movement, recycled, will never be defeated.” Pretty sure it went something like that.