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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Why all the green?

I thought I might take a minute to try to explain why I've gone all eco-friendly lately.

Most of my life I was not too concerned with the environment.  I wrapped my babies in plastic diapers and didn't even recycle.  It just was not on my radar.  I thought that was fine for some people but not really necessary.  (In my defense, I lived in an area for 13 years that had no recycling collection available.)

So, what is all this 'green' effort lately? 

Well, it started when I was cleaning and organizing the art room.  I found myself throwing out bags of paper - old projects and ruined supplies.  A little paper here and there had never bothered me, but this seemed like a lot of waste.  It could be recycled and reused.  It was kind of like throwing away money or being ungrateful for my resources.  It took a little research to figure out what can and can't be recycled and what is available in my area, but we now save paper, plastic, glass, tin cans, cardboard, aluminum, and paperboard. 

So, recycling is pretty normal, but what's with all the reducing trash, cloth napkins, and considering a worm farm?

As I was researching and listening to youtube videos, I discovered that the average American produces 3 pounds of trash a day after recycling.  Also, we are 5% of the world's population but we consume 30% of the world's goods.  That is a lot of stuff and tons of it gets trashed way before its usefulness is gone. 

I ran across a group of people called zero-wasters.  There goal is to produce no trash.  They don't use disposable items, avoid overpackaged stuff, buy from bulk bins, and make homemade.  Again the questions of why comes up.  First of all trash is wasted money and resources.  Also, it goes to a landfill.  I used to think that meant all my trash got buried and eventually 'returned to the earth'.  (of course I knew it took forever for plastic to degrade, but I saw that as a necessary evil.)  What I learned is that our degrading trash is so toxic that modern landfills have to have liners to keep the ooey gooey juices out of the ground.  Also, it produces dangerous methane gas which has to be collected and dealt with.  I also learned that these protections do fail and they were not part of many landfills in the past.  So, landfills are problematic and from what  read incinerating is even worse. 

Recycling helps but it is an imperfect solution too.  Some items, like plastic, only downcycle into less complex substances.  Also, much of our trash is sent overseas since we don't have the resources to deal with it here.  (That gives me pause to think too.  America exports trash.  Weird.)  So, it's much more efficient to not make the trash in the first place. 

So, it's really the idea of waste that got me started, but of course global warming, the ozone, the ideas of plastic in our urine; these all factor in too.  Oh, and don't forget the lovely Pacific Garbage Patch.  Just the thought of that has me picking up litter. 

Well, those are the reasons I'm making my own bagels, washing and reusing the plastic bags I have, using cloth grocery bags, and a bunch of other changes.  So far I haven't driven my family over the edge.  It's like one big experiment.  Some things I like and others I write off as failures, but that's ok too.  I like moving in a new direction that just might be better for me, my family, and the planet. 

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