Aug 5, 2010

Trash Talkin'

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!
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Diane said...

Since I am a big part of that
*20,000,000 Kiss wrappers are generated every day*....I will find the proper way to dispose of them.
I will remember to bring my Publix re-usable bags (I bought) to Publix to bag my grocery's : )
Thanks for the tips!

Dani said...

We make sure to put our food scaps into the compost bin. Less waste, and I get awesome dirt for my garden.


Woo Hoo you TWO! name your mark or fridge magnet....glitzy or subdued?


Oh and PS Diane....I am so proud of you as I realize that approximately 10,000,000 of those Kiss wrappers come from your home.

Anonymous said...

Faith, as always I love your blog. My recycling bins were repurposed to haul mulch from the dump. Sadly they have not made it back inside and it is too damn hot to haul anymore mulch. I will promise to bring them in and start back on the recycling. Thanks for the motivation.
PS I'll take a magnet : )

Diane said...

Glitzy fridge magnet : )

Island Rider said...

I just came to your blog via Florida Cracker. I have read back through a couple of months of your posts and have to say you are one amazing woman. I also suspect you would reply to that comment, "Oh, shucks, don't look at me, look at my Creator." Anyway, I have a question for you. I think you live in Pinellas County. I just live south of there in Manatee County and though I grew up in St. Petersburg, I have never heard of a weigh n pay. Where is it located? Thank you for all you are doing to improve your corner of the world! Cathy S. aka Island Rider

debe said...

I am an ad vo k 8 for vinegar

It makes my dog hair encrusted sofa covers soft and hair free for a while... a short while

It removes odors and stains and cleans out your drains

It also cleans out my hubby's drains.

Apple Cider vinegar, one shot a day, makes everything right with his world.

I reuse all cardboard by making it into useful items, or artsy items.

Plastic is reused and reused and reused, it can be washed you know!

Woven, melted, cut up, fused

I am a ho for recycled and re "used" items.

I crave bling please... bling buttons especially...

** you should look in the mirror daily.. you see an angel looking back **

You are blessed

Kathleen Scott said...

Great tips, I loved the vinegar list and picked out a page of hints that will work for us.

We've been using baking soda for scrub-cleaning for a year now and I love it. And we do bulk and recycling. I rigged up a wall rack to hold laundry baskets in the garage. It's easy to separate items and the baskets fit well in the trunk of the car for the trip to the recycling center.

A huge issue in our area is water conservation. The highest proportion of potable water usage in the region is LAWN-WATERING. In a time and place when the resouce isn't renewing as fast as the usage.