20 February 2011

The Secret Life of Garbage

I love documentaries. I prefer real life over fairytales. I've watched many on countless things, yet none have succeeded in shocking me as much as Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage. C and I watched the documentary on Msnbc last night, and it was like watching a car wreck for an hour - the Earth's car wreck - depressing but you just can't tear your eyes away. I was so disturbed! It's been on my mind since, I am even more determined to reduce my and my familys carbon footprint.

The show brings to light many things - landfills, plastic literally taking over the ocean, and mainly the crisis to figure things out before it gets too late. The Apex landfill in Nevada is the biggest landfilll in the U.S., taking in 9,200 TONS of waste every day. It all gets buried!!! It is estimated that the landfill will be useable for 30 more years... but what happens after that? Illegal dumping is a major problem in the U.S. and countries around the world.

What are a few ways we can reduce our impact?

Problem: Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.

Solution: Do some dishes! Some plastics may contain BPA ( bisphenol A), a known toxic that may cause hormonal issues and may affect brain development in children. I used to hate dishes, but now I find it as almost an escape to quiet time sometimes ;)

Problem: Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste.

Solution: Reusable bags! Reuseit is an amazing site featuring all reusable items. For homemade totes, visit one of my favorite sites, Etsy. You can use whatever you'd like basically, just keep those plastics out of the garbage can!

Problem: In 2004, the Rubber Manufacturers Association estimated that 275 million tires were in stockpiles. Tires in stockpiles can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a habitat for rodents. Because they retain heat, these piles easily ignite, creating toxin-emitting, hard-to-extinguish fires that can burn for months.

Solution: Find alternate ways to get around! By biking or walking, you're reducing the wear on your cars tires, letting them last longer. You're also getting exercise while reducing the amount of toxic car fumes that are pumped into the air. Win-Win-Win!

Problem: Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week.

Solution: Consider using glass serveware, wrap presents in recycled or unwanted paper, etc. Sure you might have a huge sinkful of dishes, but your garbage can will thank you. Wrapping presents in cast-aside paper is perfect because its just getting ripped to shreds anyway! Your kids may not be thrilled about their presents being wrapped in newspaper, but there is a lesson in all of this, and that may trigger their own eco-friendly ideas. *Don't forget to recycle that wrapping paper! ;)

Problems: 30,990 tons of food scraps were discarded in 2008, composing 18.6% of all materials going to landfills or incinerators.
Only 2.5% of all waste food was composted in 2008 – the rest went to landfill or incinerators.
American per capita food waste increased to more than 1,400 calories per person per day in 2009, an increase of approximately 50 percent since 1974.

Solutions: Composting!!!! I am a HUGE supporter of composting, I love it, and I believe everybody can do it nomatter where you live! Composting is basically taking organic wastes (vegetables, fruit, yard trimmings, etc.), adding wood chips or other matter to accelerate the breakdown of the organic materials, and then letting it cure. The main benefit to composting is its use in gardening and growing things. A what and what not to compost article can be found here. Don't be shy if you live in an apartment; companies are now making wonderful bamboo and ceramic countertop compost pails, such as these two hereand here. Also, eat less, and eat healthy. We have become such a foodie nation, time to get back to basics!

Problem: Because plastic water bottles are shielded from sunlight in landfills, they will not decompose for thousands of years.

Solution: Reuse and recycle. Very simple: if you use plastic, recycle it. If you want to reduce your use of plastic or cut your use of plastic bottles, look into a stainless steel thermos and a Brita water filter. Clean water in a non-toxic non-plastic bottle, perfect! Klean Kanteen water bottles are amazing, and they also offer a sippy cup option for munchkins ♥ highly recommended.

It's time to respect our Earth, because as it's pretty clear, it won't be around forever at this rate!

Watch Trash Inc. next on March 1st @ 8pm on Msnbc. or click here to stream online.

*All 'problems' from this site - CleanAir.


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