Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In the Beginning......

was a throw society that layered everything you bought in glamorous packaging. Most of us, and I was certainly guilty of it, bought stuff, groceries, shoes, computers, etc and the stuff that we actually wanted was far out weighed by the stuff it came in.

I always had a strong re-cycling bug in me, ask my lab-mates from when I post-doc'ed down in New Zealand. I thought I was pretty good at this and would pat myself on the back, like most of us, when we recycled our cans, and bottles etc.

But the plastic thing that holds your coke cans together, the oily pizza delivery box left over from last night, the plastic bag your popped your mushrooms in at the supermarket? Most of that ended up in your rubbish (garbage) bin. And that ended up in landfill.

Then I saw a seminar by the people from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation that helped find and publicise the Pacific Gyre. They built a JUNK raft out of the body of an old Cessna and tons of old plastic bottles and sailed across the pacific, trawling nets behind them to analyse the plastic in the sea water.

They had planned to survive on catching fish and eating them, but when they were gutting the fish they found lots of tiny bit of plastic in them. They brought some of the samples with them. They looked horrible.

We had already started to feed most of our food scraps to our worms in their worm bin, and recycle everything that was recyclable.

Then we moved house and had a bigger garden. We started a cold compost heap for the garden waste (even though San Mateo has a garden compost program) and bought a composting drum to do hot composting in.

Occasionally we would remember to re-use the plastic bags we brought home with us from the supermarket. For instance we have a few labelled oats, raisins, cranberries etc. and I long ago got out of the habit of placing vegetables in a plastic bag.... well everything apart from mushrooms.

Where am I going with this? Well I thought with the three composting systems we have, the paper and glass and cans recycling, the garden compost service we have, and with careful selection of what we buy, that we would generate less than 100lb of waste that we let the garbage man take away in one year. I think we can do it, I know we can do it!

Tomorrow the rules of the game.....

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