Thursday, January 08, 2009

Talkin' Trash

I know I feel better when I start reading blogs again and start feeling all activist-y.

So I read about this guy, Dave, who was keeping his own trash for a year to see what it would add up to. Fascinating.

That led to talk about making your own non-toxic cleaning supplies and how to clean your own home without relying on all of those fun cocktails in plastic bottles.

I continued reading, because how fascinating is it to read about someone keeping their own trash? Fascinating! Especially when they write well. This led me to Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home, a movie about a family that kept their trash for 3 months. I've only seen the first 20 minutes and it's scaring me already. And making me laugh, because it can't all be horrible dark and gloomy.

Just recently my community has decided to switch to a single trash hauler so that we don't have lots of trucks driving through every other day. Instead, the focus is on paying more for trash services and making recycling "free". Well, we already recycle and put out less trash than the average family in our neighborhood, so we're not likely to see any serious cost savings. However, I think we're going to ask for the half sized trash can and see if we can't reduce our trash even more than we currently do.

Right now, we compost all of our food waste (Except for meat, bones, and dairy.), egg cartons, paper towel rolls and the like. We recycle everything the local company will take, get our milk delivered in glass bottles and don't shop, so we appear to be pretty light on the trash scale.

However, we can do even better.

Dave is right: the problem doesn't go away when the Trash Man Cometh. It just leaves your doorstep and goes to someone else's (In the 20 minute clip, I found out where some of it is going.), which is not the same as solving the problem.

The green revolution in products is an interesting first step, but instead of thinking that you've solved the problem by buying eco-products, remember that those products in turn have packaging that needs to be disposed of as well. Beth, of Fake Plastic Fish, has been reducing her plastic consumption for a couple of years now and it is utterly striking to have a look at where she started and where she is now and how extreme the measures are that you have to take in order to get plastic out of your life (Delivering plastic trash back to the sender. Hi, Amazon!).

Most depressing to me was the talk about the North Pacific gyre - also referred to as the Great Garbage Patch. All of that trash goes somewhere and on a planet mostly made of water, that's where it's headed. Into our oceans.

What I'm trying to tell you is this: each of us, individually, needs to take responsibility for what we put out into the world. Our children, ourselves, our attitudes, our trash. We're poisoning ourselves and the planet. Every choice we make, every day, can be part of the solution.
  1. Bring your canvas bags to the store.
  2. Stop drinking bottled water (Unless you live in an area with polluted water, in which case you've got bigger problems than my little blog can deal with. Lobby your politicians to clean it up!).
  3. Stop buying stuff you don't need.
  4. Find a way to make a difference in your community.


Now I must go rescue my twins from the horror that is their crib.


Scylla said...

Go sister!!

ellen said...

Living out here in Jersey has been an eye opener on trash. Around here people just throw things away. No, free cycle or anything they just put it out for the trash man to come get. EVERYTHING! My neighbors do recycle... like one little bucket a month. Where as we put out little trash and tons of recycling while grumbling that they only come once a month.

I loved living in Seattle where you were only allowed on trash can a week, if you went over you paid $5 a bag, but you could recycle as much as you wanted! Hello, good ideas!

We just started composting this last summer. What I have to work out is what to do when the bin is getting full. Should I take the dirt out and store it until I need it in the spring? I need to sift it though don't I, in case there's some chunks left... See, still learning.

Ok, this has been long enough. I just want to say I too am trying to do my little part to make my world a better place. :)

Monica said...

In New York City, recycling is mandatory. Lots of people skirt around it, and it's hard to enforce in apartment buildings, but it's something. I admit, I have not been as environmentally aware as I could have been in moving out of my old apartment. The sheer amount of stuff I needed to get rid of was overwhelming, and I could sell/Freecycle only so much. But I'm working on it.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Ellen: depends on what you want to use the compost for. If you're just tossing it on top of your garden beds as mulch, no need to sift. If you're using it as an amendment to planting holes, you'll want to sift it. During the winter, the processes that cause compost to break down are dramatically slowed, so you don't really have to worry about removing the stuff on the bottom. It will just sit there and wait. I tend to ignore mine until spring, while continuing to throw new stuff on top and stir it around.

However, if it makes ya happy, feel free to bag up the finished product and wait to use it in spring! I did that with a different finished pile. Now I have 4 very full bags that have sifted compost in them waiting.

Monica: Just do the best you can. Any little bit helps and any time one person starts paying attention they can add to the overall effect. YOU make a difference and if you can convince friends of yours, THEY will be making a difference. Next thing you know, you'll have a whole cadre of plastic avoiding, carbon footprint shrinkin' friends.

There are worse things that could happen!

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