Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where Does the Garbage Go? Biodegradable Trash Bags

Rarely does a childhood book define your future quite like, "Where Does the Garbage Go?" did for me. I loved this book. I wrote my name in. My sister mischievously took it with her to college and didn't return it until she moved down the street from me a few years ago. It came from one of those mail-order educational series that my mom signed me up for. Most of the books were about dinosaurs, the universe, and other scientific topics that held my attention for at least one full read. WDGG, on the other hand, hooked me and I read it until the cover started coming apart.

At one point in the book, they covered urban high-rise living and wouldn't you know it, I moved into an apartment on the 11th story in my mid-twenties and walked down the hall to drop my bag into the garbage shoot to the dumpster 11 floors below. Genius.

Now that I have my book back, I continue to use it as my main point of reference for all things garbage. I read it to my niece just yesterday. As it turns out, even in the early 1980s, recycling was a topic of WDGG. Since this book still informs my life as far as all things garbage go, I was inspired and I finally did it. I've been meaning to do it for months. I ordered myself biodegradable trash bags online.

I found some tall 13-gallon bags for $.21 a bag with free shipping at this company. They sell the bags in bulk of 500 bags per box. I feel little better about that quantity, since getting it here will use less resources long-term and I won't have to think about it again for at least a year and a half.

I realize there are drawbacks to using sustainable resources from agriculture. Large-scale farming is not super great for the earth, but it's soooooo much better than making and wasting petroleum-based products. I can reduce the guilt about my waste. Here is what I am currently doing to make my household a little greener:
  • I recycle all cardboard and junk mail that does not have food on it (including toilet paper rolls) -- I remove all plastic windows from boxes and envelopes
  • I recycle ALL plastic bags and packaging at my local grocery store bag recycling (free of food particles of course)
  • I bought myself reusable bags and refuse plastic bags for all my purchases when out shopping (except for raw chicken)
  • I'm re-using bread bags and other plastic bags from unavoidable packaging to scoop the cat box
  • I'm not using as many sandwich bags and plastic wrap
  • I'm starting to unplug electronics not being used (Hubby is better about this than me)
Why go to all this trouble, you ask? Sadly, I learned from Jacques Cousteau's grandson, that in addition to our plastic garbage going into landfills, a great deal of it is getting into our water system and winding up in rivers, lakes, and oceans -- harming and killing copious amounts of wildlife, which is both irresponsible to the wildlife and ourselves. Especially since those plastic toxins wind up getting back into our food supply.

And on another health front, I heard this story on NPR, that the plastic drink bottles and other packaging and containers are breaking down enough that the chemicals are getting into our bodies and food supplies, which is putting endocrine disruptors into our systems, which can lead to issues with infertility, and fetal and child development. So not only do we need to worry about the hormones in our food supply, we also need to worry about the disruption of the hormones we naturally produce. They especially warned not heat food in plastics, so use glass or ceramic instead.

As George Bailey said on It's a Wonderful Life, "Now you listen to me! I don't want any plastics!" So I guess what I'm really saying is, that my number one green priority for the last six months or so is to reduce my use of plastics as much as possible. Plastics have a huge negative impact on our environment, so give it some thought. I've previously concentrated so much on the recycle aspect of reduce-reuse-recycle, that I really didn't think about the reduce and reuse part. Thankfully, I can look to "Where Does the Garbage Go?" to remind me of such things.


Karen B said...

Mom said when we left we had to take all our stuff and not return. You left the book at home which clearly indicated to me that you were no longer interested in owning it. Also, I saved it from the basement flood and you could have cared less about it then so I think I had good rights to it.

karin said...

Jacques Cousteau's grandson taught me about the trash in the ocean that is bigger than the state of Texas. Have you ever driven through Texas? It is HUGE. I recycle like crazy and we don't use a lot of trash, unless people are here (surprisingly).

Lisa said...

like the previous commentor said, I also saw a show that said there is a circle of trash in the pacific ocean that is bigger than the size of texas.

I spent $30 on metal straw cups for my kids, recycle everything I can, buy as much free range meat and dairy as I can...I am about to order some reusable bags for lunches. Ughh...It's harder but worth it. I cannot seem to remember to bring my green bags into the store. what's up with that?

Elizabeth said...

I am just happy that my apt. complex finally made recycling available. It is amazing how much less goes into the dumpster when I can recycle.

Sue said...

Good job! I raised you right! Love, Mom