Today I did some yard work for the first time in a while. Several medium-sized palm trees around our rental house needed pruning. As I sawed off dead branches and piled them in the dumpster, I started thinking about how much yard work I did as a child.
My family lived in a house on a fairly large piece of property. My parents DIY’ed everything. They built a well house, a chicken coop, and a network of raised garden beds. Many of my childhood memories center around outdoor projects. My brother and I collected rocks to build a 100-foot stone wall, dug narrow trenches for an irrigation system, and helped plant fruit trees. Of course, there were always a million weeds to pull.
One summer, my brother and I decided to plant our own vegetable garden.
You might have heard the expression: “If it’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing well.” My dad likes to add a twist to this phrase. Whenever he has to redo something, he shrugs his shoulders and says: “Well, if it’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing twice.”
I definitely inherited my dad’s optimistic attitude. The most recent example was a piece of furniture which I wanted to fix up.
Six years ago, I was living in a tent a few miles outside downtown Austin, Texas. It may have looked like an ordinary WalMart camping tent. But it was actually U.S. government housing.
I was working for a federal program called Americorps, which sends young adults out to various places in the U.S. to do community service. I worked at a daycare in rural New Mexico and cleared a hiking trail in the middle of the Missouri forest. In Austin, my team and I were helping out at a recycling center. By day we sorted cans and bottles on a conveyor belt, at night we slept at a park. We cooked our dinners over a campfire and showered at a YMCA.
Today I’m celebrating Earth Day by stirring a pile of dirt in my yard. It all began five months ago, when I nearly dislocated my shoulder from hoisting a massive bag of trash into the dumpster.
“How on earth do two people produce this much garbage?” I asked myself in disgust.
That’s when I rediscovered the world of composting. My parents had a compost pile when I was a kid, but I admit I didn’t pay too much attention to the whole operation. As an adult, I’ve become aware of how much trash I contribute to the world.