We don't have much trash out here JOTOLR. But, we have some.
I'm sure you're not unaware of the incredible volume of both trash and what eventually becomes trash, the detritus of everyday living we have here in the U. S. Packaging has more to do with the packaging industry than it does any safety concerns of the consumer; "hangability" in the stores of the carton or package; the food industry's obscession with triple-wrapped turkey slivers...you know what I mean! And still we have the egg recalls (I wonder how the chickens feel--literally--about that. How does one "do" an egg recall?) and the beef recalls (that's lots harder than the egg recalls), and the green onion fiasco recall, and the what-type-of-produce will be next fiasco....!
And all those plastic toys, and plastic bottles, and plastic. Yes. I stopped. PLASTIC. Lots and lots of plastic. Along the road is all the evidence we need; however, add to that the broken-open trash bags that supposedly are awaiting the arrival of the "garbage collector" but which a whole cadre of inquistive, hungry animals beat to the punch...so we have a landscape littered with good intentions (of getting trash to the dump).
So, now comes the continent building...I'm sure you've heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Apparently some while back Oprah featured it. It's the world's largest landfill...in the "middle" of the Pacific Ocean. From "How Stuff Works:"
In the broad expanse of the northern Pacific Ocean, there exists the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a slowly moving, clockwise spiral of currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents. The area is an oceanic desert, filled with tiny phytoplankton but few big fish or mammals. Due to its lack of large fish and gentle breezes, fishermen and sailors rarely travel through the gyre. But the area is filled with something besides plankton: trash, millions of pounds of it, most of it plastic. It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.
The gyre has actually given birth to two large masses of ever-accumulating trash, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, sometimes collectively called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California; scientists estimate its size as two times bigger than Texas [source: LA Times]. The Western Garbage Patch forms east of Japan and west of Hawaii. Each swirling mass of refuse is massive and collects trash from all over the world. The patches are connected by a thin 6,000-mile long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone. Research flights showed that significant amounts of trash also accumulate in the Convergence Zone.
The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. But before we discuss those, it's important to look at the role of plastic. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans [source: LA Times]. The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic [source: UN Environment Program]. In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean [source: Greenpeace]. Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor [source: Greenpeace]. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore.
Doesn't that make you sick? I didn't upload any pictures for this, thinking to let your imagination fill in the blanks...picturing miles and miles of.....plastic!
OK. Back to JOTOLR. Our biggest disposal problem here on the farm is plastics. It is our largest single trash item and it's a killer to figure out what to do with it. Paper, we can use as fuel for our woodstove. Metal and glass can be recycled, (and who knows what piece of artwork could be created from such discards?) but it is the dratted plastics that foul the process of what I call, "living net."
|Broken Tractor Muffler and Corn Planter part|
What is "living net?" It means using it up, wearing it out, making it do, or doing without. It's THINKING about how you live. For example, when I was selling Pampered Chef and making various recipes for the business, I always had a mountain of TRASH every week. The trash was created as a result of fake foods like Cool Whip containers, Jello Pudding boxes, plastic containers of one kind or another, refrigerated cresent rolls, French bread--all in tubes with metal ends and (at least) paper sides, metal cans of stuff...figure three shows per week...my trash was horrendous.
I didn't realize HOW horrendous this burden was until I stopped selling PC. When I stopped, my trash load went to practically zero. Explanation: the "great American, Living-Right diet has lots of trash imbedded--more ways than one!
As of now, MM and I visit the landfill twice a year on free days to dispose of those items we can't otherwise get rid of. I have some guilt about this. But society doesn't offer me an option. I am trapped into dumping even that small portion, on somebody else--that somebody else is poor Mother Nature. It'll be down there, somewhere. It's something I cannot control
I do the best I can, though. I don't even buy trash BAGS! For what little trash we produce out here, I use the dogfood bags. They're paper. Already used. Easy to stuff into a garbage receptacle. And, they hold a lot..of paper. Sometimes, though, we're forced to purchase the now-plastic woven dogfood sacks. Here again...we're put in the position of (1) using plastic (2) having a disposal problem (3) feeling guilty (4) dumping on Mother Nature.
|Dogfood Sack is the Perfect Trash Bag--no plastic|
OTOH, we have zero food "garbage" out here JOTOLR. EVERYTHING we don't eat--including bones (which get pressure-cooked for broth, then cycled to the dogs; all food refuse goes to the pigs or the cows--windfalls are bruised apples and they are especially welcomed by Marigold and Honeysuckle; corn cobs, squash skins, extra whey from making cheese, soured milk, even extra veggies from the garden...all of it...is passed on to whatever will eat it with no guilt. We have no food trash. There's a way to use it all.
|Past Their Prime Cucumbers = Piggy Paradise!|
What does this mean? Leading a life of self-sufficiency requires that we think about what we accumulate and what we must dispose of. After all, we don't want to live in a trash dump, either! So we have to plan ahead and be conscious of refuse and its place in our lives.
As for the country and the world? It seems to me that we need a serious investigation of just how we are dealing with trash, and packaging and food "waste." And, isn't it about time we started regulating packaging and other merchandise to limit trash? For example, you know these little storage containers you buy for so cheap for leftovers? The PLASTIC LIDS on them are NOT interchangeable. That's ridiculous! Every time I buy four, I have a whole 'nother bunch that don't mix and match! This is really stupid!
How many jobs could be created in the waste management industry if we were to deal with this out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality and tackle our trash.
Let me know what you think!