On Banana Guilt and Other Wise Words

July 22, 2020 § Leave a comment

I inherited from my Dad an affinity for collecting quotes. He has long been known to randomly hand me, and other family members, what turns out to be a quotation typed up on a plain piece of paper, simply because he thought I’d appreciate it. It’s just a thing he does.

So now that I’m grown up, I collect quotes too. My family is pretty much used to pausing the movie we are watching long enough for me to scribble a quote on the nearest envelope or scrap of paper. They hardly even roll their eyes anymore.

And of course, I especially love finding quotes that are relevant to the topic I’m obsessing about at the moment. Recycling? Garbage? Big, huge, overwhelming, impossible projects? Check.

Often, great quotes seem to leap out and ambush me when I least expect it, from the most unlikely of sources. In fact, the most unlikely sources are often the best, because they point out connections between things that didn’t occur to you before. Yes, I definitely have some awesome quotes about trash and sustainable living from the books I’ve been reading on those subjects, but the quotes that really grab me by the throat are the ones relevant to our Year of No Garbage but show up in other things: a book about handcraft, folksy wisdom from Mister Rogers, a documentary about Bill Gates. If nothing else, this proves to me how bizarrely random my reading list must appear to everyone else.

So here, in no particular order, are a few of the favorite quotes I’ve gathered so far in reference to our Year of No Garbage… I hope you enjoy them:

I’ve often hesitated in beginning a project because I’ve thought, “it’ll never turn out to be even remotely like the good idea I have as I start.” I could just “feel” how good it could be. But I decided that, for the present, I would create the best way I know how and accept the ambiguities.

-Fred Rogers, You Are Special

The United States is the home office of waste and always has been. The country was built on waste. We wasted land, wasted people, wasted resources and wasted fortunes that were built on wasting land, people and resources… We all looked at energy-wasting squarely in the eye a long time ago and decided to keep it as part of the American tradition.

-Russell Baker, So This is Depravity

In the moment we all do the best we can do at the moment. It’s in retrospect that you see what the impact was.

– Marc Porat, Tech Entrepeneur, in the documentary General Magic

…make something well, and from good materials, and it will last beyond one generation. But what do you do when everyone already has a highly durable blanket? This is every weaver’s dilemma, though it rarely affects the standard of their work. Not compromising on quality is a philosophy of production that is, of course, the antithesis of the modern textile industry whose capital returns rely on heavy turnover, a throwaway culture in which every item has a planned obsolescence and barely lasts a lifetime, let alone long enough to be passed down to future generations.

-Alexander Langlands, Craeft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts 

In what ways are our values, goals, and aspirations being invigorated or violated by our present life system? How many parts of our personality can we live out, and what parts are we suppressing? How do we feel about our way of living in the world at any given time?

-Gail Sheehy, Passages: Predictable Crisis of Adult Life

The truth is that the environment never makes it into most Americans’ top-ten list of things to worry about. They support protecting the environment; they just don’t support it very strongly.

-Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, “The Death of Environmentalism” in The Sun magazine

You have to pick a pretty finite number of things to tell your mind to work on. You have to decide: what should you care about?

-Bill Gates, “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates” Netflix docuseries

The future will come at us invisibly, frame by frame, as it always does— comprehensible only when run together and projected retrospectively at some distant moment. But it is coming.

-James Carroll, “To Save the Church, Dismantle the Priesthood,” in the Atlantic

BONUS! Favorite Year of No Garbage Quotes From My Family Thus Far:

Can’t this (project) wait till I go to college? That’s only, like, five years from now.

– Ilsa

I have banana guilt! I accidentally threw a banana peel away at school and then I realized and then I stood there trying to figure out if I should put my hand in the garbage to take it back out! And my friends were like what’s wrong why are you so upset looking and I told them and they’re like GRETA. You do not put your hand in the garbageno.


I’m very proud of our family; this week we had no garbage. Because it’s all on the kitchen counter.




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