Oscar the Grouch had the correct idea. It's time to love your trash.
This week as I was preparing the baby's organic oatmeal feeling all earth motherish it suddenly occurs to me as I throw away the individual wax paper packet one portion comes in, "what am I doing?" Those were not the exact words running through my brain but this blog is g-rated so I won't go there. I've been disgusted with the amount of trash my family generates for a long time now and I've finally decided it's time to embrace my trash and quit ignoring it. I can honestly say I am busier than most people. I work. I have 3 special needs kids. I am single. I'm old. I'm tired. Yada yada yada. So, don't go all, "easy for you to accomplish you don't have anything better to do" on me. That does not apply to my life.
We live in a society that loves to be frightened. Horror is one of the top grossing genres for Hollywood generating millions on a yearly basis. How about you save the price of a movie ticket and let me scare you for free with two simple facts about trash:
1.) The average person generates 4.6 pounds of trash daily. Since the 1950's we have used more resources than any other generation before us.
2.) Americans total yearly waste would fill a convoy of garbage trucks long enough to wrap around the earth six times and reach halfway to the moon.
( Statistics from Welcome To Dump and Run, Inc)
I'll stop there. I could go on and on to the moon like those garbage trucks about how we are destroying our planet one Styrofoam cup at a time, polluting our water table with landfills, poisoning our atmosphere with incinerated garbage but I'm confident enough in your intelligence to do your own research and scare yourselves.
What can my family do? We don't have curbside recycling in our city. We live in the tropics. We have roaches. I'm too busy to drive to the dump to recycle. I work. I'm single. I'm old. I'm tired. We don't have a have a local farmers market. My kids are making me insane.
Knowing how complicated my life is I've decided to start simple.
Fact: 1/3 of our garbage is from "packaging.
- Buy from a source that sells bulk. I'm going to the health food store or bulk food warehouse and pouring oatmeal in a paper bag from now on. And sunflower seeds. And flour and whatever else I use a lot of that can be poured in a bag.
-Don't forget your cloth bags when your shop. Keep them in the car. Our local Hospice Thrift shop and many other establishments have stopped providing bags for customers already. I know this about Hospice because I was behind a women who cursed the cashier out when they could not provide her with a plastic bag. Good for them.
-buy fruit and vegies at a farmers market or local stand that does not package with Styrofoam and plastic wrap. It's healthier anyway.
Fact: It takes 700 years for a plastic bottle to decompose in a landfill.
-If you have the choice between cream cheese in a cardboard container or cream cheese in a plastic tub choose cardboard. Ditto on all other choices.
-Now go set up your recycling area in your garage,on the back porch, laundry room, wherever. Popi just gave us a bunch of discarded bins with lids that we are going to utilize. I shouldn't have to say this but rinse before you re-cycle. I once had a friend who has an extremely high IQ tell me the smell of spoiled milk was too much for her when she attempted to re-cycle milk containers. Did you rinse them first before you put them in your 120 degree garage or did your just erect little neon blinking signs advertising your roach condo's?
- As Paul Blart would say: "Here's a fun fact:" Be kind to Hershey's because they are getting a bad " wrap" in the green movement and put those kiss wrappers in with your re-cycled cans. Approximately 20,000,000 Kiss wrappers (which are aluminum) are generated every day. You didn't really think I was going to tell you to give up chocolate? Do you think I am crazy? Chocolate to me is like Southern Comfort was to Janis. Enough said.Photo: Jim Marshall
-Familiarize yourself with more fun facts about re-cycling paper, plastic, glass and aluminum here.
Fact: The air inside the typical home is on average 2-5 times more polluted than outside air—and in extreme cases 100 times more contaminated. Household cleaners and pesticides account for the majority of this pollution according to Worldwatch Institute.
-Make your own safer Home Made Laundry Detergent
-Use vinegar to mop, clean glass surfaces, use as a fabric softener, etc. It's cheap, safe and easy. Go HERE for everything you ever wanted to know about vinegar but were afraid to ask. And while you are at it use a cloth rag that can be thrown in the washer, not a paper towel. It takes one month for one paper towels to decompose.
This is where our family will begin. We have already been implementing some of the above things but will add some new things and do the old with renewed commitment. I'll let you know how we succeed. Having said all of the above I will confess I recently watched the documentary, No Impact Man, and I'm not willing to give up toilet paper. I also realize our overly commercial, greedy society has made it impossible to do away with all packaging. For instance, as a mom of children who have medical equipment delivered monthly to my house I can't do a blasted thing about the plastic packaging. What I can do though is take those huge cardboard boxes to the re-cycling center after the kids have played in them and colored on them. Yes, it's not as convenient as putting them to the curb for local trash pick up but our "convenience" mentality is killing us. One cardboard box at a time.
Let me know what you are doing now and one thing that you will attempt to do in the future. For everyone who writes with one new commitment I will send you a hand crafted, book mark or fridge magnet (your choice) made from vintage rescued jewelry and/or vintage buttons. Include your favorite colors in your comment and if you are Rain Man "sparkly" or subdued in you taste. Have fun!
I can't wait to hear what new thing you will be trying!