Of all the tragedies resulting from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, perhaps the most enduring--other than loss of lives--is garbage. All kinds of garbage. My mind can hardly take it all in....imagine for a moment, all the things--stuff-- of households, businesses, manufacturing...all strewn over the landscape of an island in the Pacific Ocean... Not to mention the radiation? Where will it wind up? IS there such a thing as "clean-up" or "breakdown" of the incredible destruction now blighting life itself in this tiny country?
What can be done about Japan's garbage problem? When it rains in northeastern Japan, it's raining through the garbage...and going where? Where, even after scraping up the trash into mounds to be hauled somewhere, where can it be moved TO and what lingers in the soil? The fishing industry in that part of the world? How will it be affected? How can this relatively small piece of land cope with the refuse of a natural disaster of this magnitude?
These questions and more haunt me as I plant my new blackberries and enjoy my asparagus...When is the "industrialized" world going to realize the importance of the need for serious re-thinking of our "waste?" I honestly believe we are beyond "recycling." We are red-lining on simply having too much stuff. We don't need more stuff. But that's anti-consumerism, anti-free enterprise, anti-capitalism, right? RIGHT! in capital letters.
And just to remind you, on this Earth Day, here's the time it takes for each piece of trash to so-called "break down:" (the Twelfth of Never...)
Glass bottle 1 million years
Monofilament fishing line: 600 years
Plastic beverage bottles: 450 years
Disposable diapers: 450 years
Aluminum can: 80-200 years
Boot sole: 50-80 years
Styrofoam cup: 50 years
Tin can: 50 years
Leather: 50 years
Nylon fabric: 30-40 years
Plastic film canister: 20-30 years
Plastic bag: 10-20 years (???)
Cigarette filter: 1-5 years
Wool sock: 1-5 years
Plywood: 1-3 years
Waxed milk carton: 3 months
Apple core: 2 months
Newspaper: 6 weeks
Orange or banana peel : 2-5 weeks
Paper towel: 2-4 weeks