Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How full is your trash can?

Are you a typical American? If so, did you know that your production of garbage averages about 4.5 lbs./day.  Does that not disgust you?

My husband and I have really become conscious of this over the last 10 months or so, since I created my alter-ego, The Green Grandma, and I'm happy to say, we didn't even bother putting out our garbage this week. There wasn't enough to bother with. Our recycling bin was full, of course, and we took some bags of paper over to our church's paper recycling bin. But our garbage can had one small bag in it. And that makes me happy!

One way to cut out excess garbage from your own trash can is to watch for extra packaging when you shop. For instance, while you might prefer the smaller tubs of margarine, did you ever think about the extra sleeve they come in? If you bump it up to the next size, you eliminate that.

I was in Panera the other day and I bought a loaf of sour dough bread -- not only is it the best bread ever, but it's also good for diabetics, like me, because sour dough bread rates low on the glycemic index, which means it's beneficial when you're trying to regulate your blood glucose levels. Anyway, they sliced the load for me and slipped it into a plastic bag and secured it with a twist tie. As the employee was about to put the plastic bag into a paper bag, I stopped her.

"I don't need it in a bag," I said.

"Are you sure?" she asked, surprised.

"Yes, I'm sure. It's already in a bag." Inside I was shaking my head. Two bags for one loaf of bread. Seriously?

Have you ever run into the grocery store carrying only one or two cloth bags, only to get into the checkout line with much more than would ever fit into the bag(s) you have? I hate when that happens.

The last time I did that, I told the bagger to put as much in the cloth bags as he could. The rest had to go in plastic (it made me feel, well, dirty). When he went to put the plastic 5# bag of red potatoes into another plastic bag, I wanted to say, "What are you, an idiot?" After all, it's his generation I'm trying to protect! I refrained and simply said, "No bag's necessary for the potatoes." "They're already in a bag," I added.

So much waste. Do you get tired of hearing me go on and on about it? That tends to happen on Mondays, 'cause that's trash day in my neighborhood.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about something my daughter, Jess, is doing. She started a battery recycling program at our church. It was a simple enough thing to do. She put some plastic baby wipe boxes in the back of the sanctuary for the collection of standard household batteries. When they're full, she'll take them to a place that recycles them and keeps all the dangerous toxins out of the landfill. Like I said, it's a simple thing, but it makes a difference. Perhaps the people in our church would mindlessly toss the batteries in the trash if it weren't for her reminder. I know that's what I used to do.

So, in honor of the 10th month of Green Grandma, why don't you start a similar program in your own church, synagogue, community center, workplace, etc.? Every little bit helps. Isn't this next generation, and the ones to follow, worth it?

Keeping it green,


Photo courtesty of Peter Griffin

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