Green Wednesday: Down with Plastic

When I started this blog in August, I did it with the intention of fostering more ecologically responsible behaviors in my adulthood. I hope if I can make green living a habit now then by the time I’m thinking of establishing a permanent household of my own, it’ll be second nature.

Or y’know, federal policy and corporate practice will have made a lot of it unnecessary. Wishful thinking, I know.

I’ve happily made progress in decreasing my carbon footprint and reducing water use. In 2011, I really want to tackle another aspect of green living: garbage. Or rather the minimization thereof.

Like most Americans (I think?) most of my non-recyclable waste comes primarily from cleaning products, food waste, and packaging. I’ve already made a bit of progress on removing disposable hygiene and cleaning products from my life. More on the specifics of that next week, probably with some mildly awkward discussion of Girl Stuff (things to look forward to, right?).

But it really bothers me when I have to throw away a wrapper or a carton because it wasn’t recyclable. It’s not necessarily even a matter of wasting petrol products — though that is an issue to consider as well. For me, it’s an issue of geometry and space. Garbage takes up space. People, particularly in this country, produce a lot of garbage. And it takes up space. Lots of space.

I could make a list of everything we could be doing with the space that goes to landfills, but I’m sure you can come up with some good ones on your own. Because it would include . . . pretty much anything but landfills.

And that’s the just garbage that ends up where it’s supposed to go. We’re not talking about the trash that ends up in our terrestrial ecosystem and waterways. Ick.

In short, my goal for the year is to cut down on my contribution to the national garbage output by at least 50%. And because the best approach to lifestyle changes in my experience (quitting smoking, going vegetarian, etc.) are gradual changes, we’re going to do it a shopping trip at a time. Every two weeks, I’m eliminating a product from my life that comes in a nonrecyclable container. This past week was cheese sticks.

This year’s project is not about self-denial, if the idea is making you a little edgy. I know this is around where the environmental movement tends to lose people. “Like, yeah I can get behind turning off the lights before I leave the house, but why would I give up my favorite foods!?!” No worries. I’m also going to be looking for and documenting viable alternatives to the stuff I’m giving up.

The other side of this is reducing food waste. Because I live in an apartment, composting is going to be kind of a challenge. More on that soon. Suggestions are, of course, always appreciated.


3 thoughts on “Green Wednesday: Down with Plastic

  1. As always, let me know if you want a bucket and some of my bokashi-newspaper system. It really only smells a “little” when you are adding the compost and compressing out the air but the big down side is that you’d have to either find someplace to dump your compost after it’s time was up or bring it home with you to donate to a friend’s composting system…

    In all honesty I’m not sure how much better the bokashi method is because it doesn’t really seem to be breaking down stuff all that fast in Greg and my bucket…:( I may need to get more outside insight into this process.

  2. Cheryl: Maybe your bacteria isn’t reproducing fast enough. As in, maybe it needs a warmer and more humid environment?

    Food waste is troubling. I’ve read Laura’s infographs on the subject. lol. But, I have gotten much better at figuring out how much to buy so that I can eat it all instead of throwing it away. The first couple months were rough there. Still, food goes bad. And I have no compost. Someday, maybe…

  3. I actually read something today that indicated that I need to have access to dirt because basically the bokashi is making it easier for the micro bacteria in the soil to break down the compost – so the bokashi itself isn’t really a compost, it doesn’t become “true” compost until it’s added to the soil or soil is added to it.

    I need to start up my experiments when the spring and summer rolls around. (There is one “bucket” of bokashi hanging out on the compost pile…we’ll have to see what that turns out as the weather warms up.)

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