Thursday, January 7, 2010

What is TRASH, really?

My son put two and two together the other day and asked me, "Mommy, where does the trash GO?" Good question. I explained what I do know about the modern trash system, and he seemed fine with that. Later on he asked me who lives at the "landfill." My earlier explanation must have conjured up images of a town on top of a giant mountain of landfill, in an awful country called Trashland, where people don't throw anything away because they live with it all.

Well, the sad truth is that place does exist, here and there hidden in areas people don't visit on purpose. There are some people who have to live with the refuse the rest of us create, often in poorer parts of the world. That's such a depressing thought that it really motivates me on a daily basis to do the right thing. After a decade in product development, privileged to the dirty secrets behind making, selling and trashing the things we use, this is the bottom line:
Don't bring it into your home: buy less, avoid packaging and bags, use refillable systems and concentrates, make your own when possible (cleaning products for example), provide restaurants with your own containers for leftovers or takeout (recycling is imperfect, do it but don't rely on it - reducing is the best policy!)

Don't let it leave your home: reuse anything durable (get creative, list things you need and things you have and see what matches!), compost, garbage disposal, use as many glass, metal, ceramic, and wood products as you can (especially food storage containers like my favorite Pyrex shown below)

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