Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel
One can always find a puddle to jump, even if it’s right under the kitchen sink.
As you, all eight of you who read this blog, can see, I’ve been thinking about “the environment” lately, whatever that means; it’s such a broad and vague term. In my case, it means that I’m beginning to pay attention to what I buy, and how I dispose of things. In other words, what’s the life-cycle of the stuff I’m taking home. What happens to the packaging and what can I do to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable stuff we throw away? Is there an alternative to the plastic bags we use for garbage?
I’ve found an alternative to the good ol’ shopping bag, and they’re called Biobags. They’re designed to be 100% compostable, unlike regular plastic. The downsides: 1) They’re very thin and flimsy, and for household trash tend to break very easily. So, we’re experimenting with a smaller container to see if lighter loads will mitigate this problem. 2) They’re expensive. I don’t remember how much they were, but they weren’t cheap. Of course, I bought these ones at Whole Foods which tends to be pricey, so maybe I’ll find them cheaper elsewhere. 3) They’re made out of material that could otherwise be used for food, like corn and wheat. It’s the same problem we encounter with bio-fuels, when additives made from wheat and corn are used for non-food use it drives up the cost of these ubiquitous foodstuffs, thus contributing to a host of problems, like you and me paying more for bread, and people in developing nations being unable to afford these basic staples, and more genetically modified plants being grown and developed.
Consumerism in the 21st Century – it ain’t what it used to be.
Last night I was walking through the Real Canadian Superstore. Row upon row of plastic container glimmered under the sodium vapour lights. Plastic bags for chips, plastic jugs for maple syrup, plastic forks, spoons and knives for picnics. Plastic peanut butter containers, plastic bags for bulk merchandise, plastic everywhere. And most of it will end up in the landfill. There was even a product called Bio-Cotton. Sheet sets, mattress pads, pillow protectors, there were many, many packages of Bio-Cotton products with labels waxing poetic about the environmental benefits of Bio-Cotton. What the labels didn’t mention is that Bio-Cotton is a genetically engineered cotton, with Monsanto having the proprietary rights. Like I said: Consumerism in the 21st Century – it ain’t what it used to be.
But back to the topic. Clothes are made of plastic, the fill in my couch is plastic. Plastic is absolutely everywhere. To think, fifty years ago there was Bakelite and other cellulose derived products, glass, wood, ceramic. Today, it’s plastic. Thanks to our petroleum dependence.
So, what’s the right thing to do? Use plastic shopping bags for the garbage and throw them into the landfill where they’ll take decades if there’s enough sunlight on the plastic for photo-degradation, or unimaginable years to degrade otherwise? Or buy compostable plastic made from foodstuffs that will degrade within a year or so?
I’ve been thinking about getting a composting bin with worms. It’s a small thing to reduce our waste. Worms gross me out, that’s the truth. But I’ll get over it. City Farmer in Vancouver has been promoting worm composting for over a decade. I’ll let you know how the worm thing turns out.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to grapple with the best plastic bag for household waste disposal. I won’t be using shopping bags anymore, but should we continue using Biobags? There’s another product I’ve found called Ecosafe Biodegradable Plastic. This product is much stronger, but it’s low density polyethylene with a degradable plastic additive. So, it’s still petroleum based, only not completely. My guess, though I haven’t researched this yet, is that the additive is vegetable based, like corn and wheat. There will be less of this than in a Biobag, but it’s still used. The dilemma: Food material for waste containers vs. edible consumption; or, waste containers that persist in the environment for long periods of time vs. degrading quickly providing nourishment for bacteria to do their job.
For now I’ll stick with the Biobag, and keep my eyes and ears open for alternatives. Maybe someone has figured out how to weave waterproof bags out of hemp. Being a weed and all, that would be sustainable.
Not quite wasting away the Puddle.