Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day?

Maybe I’m just feeling grumpy, but I think we should think about our Mother Earth every day. Not just one calendar date where everybody is running around turning off lights and brushing their teeth with the tap off. I know every little bit helps but really in the scheme of things, this is all just a drop in the ocean. Stop playing “holier than thou” and start putting your money where your mouth is! We need to get serious about what we purchase (or don’t purchase) and what the companies we deal with are really about. And do a lot more research to make sure it’s not just a bunch of greenwashing going on. I’m pretty sick of all the ubiquitous eco-sensitive words. They still want you to buy their products and it’s all in the marketing! Are they telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? OK, call me cynical.

Besides, you can’t live on this planet and not use up something. The trick is to contribute as much back as you use. Pretty impossible with our current consumer lifestyles, huh? Things are changing but sometimes it just seems to be at a snail’s pace. Locally we just got the ok today to start adding compostable materials like uncooked vegetable and fruit bits, eggshells, coffee grounds, filters and teabags into our yard waste bins. Took them long enough! And I won’t be doing that myself. I’m not giving away my own carefully saved compostables so I can go collect one cubic yard per year of questionable compost back! I’ve had a compost pile since we rented a basement suite back in the early 1970’s. Our current one is the full length of our garage and gives us lots of really good stuff to put on the garden beds every year. We already let the city have the stuff we don’t want such as walnut leaves (too much tannic acid), invasive roots like bindweed and buttercups, and sticks that take forever to break down but are too small to bother getting out the chipper. But I’m definitely keeping the rest for myself! I do think it’s a great idea though and I’ll be sure to participate when they eventually get to the second phase where they will take “putrescible” waste, aka meat, fish, dairy, bread and food-soiled paper. Then they will increase pickup to weekly (I’m guessing to get rid of the stink faster!) and cut regular garbage pickup to every other week. We only put our garbage out about once a month anyway unless we’ve been doing some big cleanup. And we have the smallest available city garbage bin too.

Ooh. I just thought about all the fun we’ll have cleaning out the yukky (and larger) yard waste bin after it’s had meat bones and such in it. The price one has to pay for doing the right thing, huh? Think I need to find a long-handled brush somewhere so I can reach the bottom. I can just picture me ending up with my head stuck inside and my feet kicking in the air!

I totally agree that anything we can keep out of the landfill is good. Plus they use the compost on city gardens as well as returning some to people (though I doubt most remember to go pick it up). The new program needs to expand to multifamily dwellings and commercial businesses though because they are the ones who don’t have access to a regular compost (unless they get a worm composter – and most sadly won’t adopt those cute little wrigglers). However most apartments and shops have private contracts for their pickup so implementing composting there will take some work. Not impossible. But there needs to be a will to do it. The city is calling this Phase 3 and haven’t given a timeline on it yet. Hurray for tenants who get together to start a composting scheme themselves to get a jump on this bandwagon! Go for it.

Personally, my biggest problem is that most of our own trash is non-recyclable plastic. If we could convince companies to cut down on packaging and to use recyclables as much as possible it would cut our garbage down a lot further. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on them for sure. I use my backpack and tote bags all the time but I also need to find a substitute for plastic produce bags. I reuse them at least once more before they get trashed but I would like to avoid them a lot more than I do now. There are several brands of cute little mesh or cotton reusable bags available now but recent research revealed that A) I can make them easier myself and probably out of recycled or stash materials and B) they aren’t good for long-term storage. They’re only meant for bringing produce home from the store. So I see two choices here. Either I just get better at washing out and reusing the regular store bags while avoiding bringing home more of them. Or hunt down produce-sized corn/bio-based compostable bags. I’ve found an online Canadian source in Ontario but haven’t noticed them locally, though I’m certain they should be available here somewhere. (That would save postage and transport.) I’ll keep an eye out. And I have to get Pfaff-y home from the sewing machine doctor before I can sew anything.

Now if only the dog owners in this city would use compostable bags for doggy-do. Then we’d really be getting somewhere!

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