Now that Therese's term, obsessive-compulsive sustainability disorder or OCSD, is starting to hit the mainstream as a true disorder (what? a mention in the Huffington Post doesn't count?), I feel it is time that I publicly recognize that I may fall within the spectrum of OCSD sufferers. To be honest, I hadn't realized that I had OSCD until I read that Therese felt cutting open an "empty" lotion bottle was a bit obsessive. I thought it was what everyone did.
I recently came to the realization that I may be deeper into the OCSD spectrum when I spotted a tea bag hiding in the trash and nearly fell over myself yanking it out. I tried to ignore it but couldn't. Yes, I reached in—between the plastic raw-chicken wrapper and used tissues—grabbed the lonely bag, and dropped it in the compost bin. What was Andrew thinking? Was he playing a game? Like he does by loading the dishwasher incorrectly? (Small plates in front, big in back—that's not so hard to remember.) Anyway, after relocating the tea bag I began wondering what else might be lurking in the can but then my nose got the best of me so I just hauled the trash bag out and cinched it shut. There were an awful lot of tissues.
For me, thanks to OCSD, even a perfectly lovely dinner party can be cause for a throbbing, guilt-ridden ache in that large section of my brain devoted solely to agida. And the only one I have to blame for this is me...for inviting guests who just don't get it. Okay, okay, maybe my expectations are too high. Just because we live in a rural community surrounded by farms doesn't mean that everyone should understand the importance of composting (recycling is another thing that gets my OCSD bubbling). I know I shouldn't really expect kind guests who jump up to help clear the table to know that the red bucket sitting in our sink is for food scraps. Those castaways help feed the chickens which in turn produce those amazing orange-yolked eggs that everyone loves. Seriously, guests clearing the table put a damper on my spirits. I hear you thinking: You're a nut! Why don't you just ask them to leave the dishes? I do. But you know how guests are. Or, why don't you just tell them how you'd like the dishes done? Because if I do that they'll think I'm bossy and obsessive. I know, you don't need to say it.
So I let them scrape the dishes directly into the trash, prewash the plates in hot water, and load the dishwasher incorrectly. I thank them profusely for their help—trying my best to sound cool and gracious—but can't stop wondering why the heck they must waste so much? Sure, the first time we had guests over I wasn't so cool. That would be the dinner where I was caught diving into the trash to retrieve the veggie scraps. A guest caught me with a handful of pastalettucebreadpudding and gave me a look of surprised disgust as she backed away and went searching for her coat. I felt awful. She was a guest after all and I didn't want her to feel bad for helping. I just couldn't help myself. But that was then. I've developed various coping mechanisms since. If they don't take my cue and insist on helping, I wait until they leave before scooping out what I can from the trash and rearranging the dishwasher (ask Andrew about that).
Of course, there is still the problem of how to handle myself when I go to someone else's house and volunteer to help with the dishes. I find myself searching for a composting bin. If they don't have one, I can't stand it. But what can I do? I'm not about to preach to anyone other than my sister (really now, she should know better; we grew up in a house with a compost bin permanently located next to the sink). Instead, I keep my mouth shut and mutter to Andrew about the unnecessary waste of it all. And when I return home, I make myself a cup of tea.
Last night, we had another dinner party. Lovely time all around. Although I'm not sure how Andrew and I managed to dirty every single plate, the good news is that our dear friends volunteered to help clear the table. I made my noises, blahblah, some listened, but others cleared and chatted away as the plates were carried into the kitchen. Guess what? The plates were scraped into the composting bin without me saying a word. Talk about fast learners, I mean, good friends.