Friday, November 23, 2012

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

... wouldn't take the garbage out. Or so goes the classic Shel Silverstein poem. Though the poem really didn't specify why she wouldn't take the garbage out, I suspect that in today's well packaged world of products, it was simply because she couldn't fit everything she had in the garbage can.

If you have ever moved, you know that you generate quite a bit of refuse that needs to be thrown away, namely packaging materials and things that you really don't have any reason to hang onto anymore. With the size of my city provided garbage and recycling can, I figured it would take me a year of putting what I could with my normal weekly fare to get rid of it all. So I loaded up the van and took a load to the recycling center and paid to dump the rest at the county dump. I was caught up in one fell swoop.

Then two things happened and I haven't yet recovered. First, I bought a jointer which arrived in a crate nestled in layers of thick custom molded Styrofoam layers. It took me nearly an hour to bust the Styrofoam into small enough pieces to fit into a garbage bag efficiently and in the end, I had eight of them not to mention enough cardboard to fill up my recycling bin for the next three weeks if I didn't recycling anything else in the meantime. So I dedicated a corner of my garage to storing that refuse until I could get rid of it in our once a week pickup.

Several weeks went by and I got rid of most of the Styrofoam (I think I still have one bag left) and all of the cardboard. The cardboard is the hardest to get rid of because our recycling container is about three cubic feet in size. I had gotten rid of perhaps a third of the jointer cardboard when the closet system I recently installed arrived in fifteen different cardboard boxes. Every box was full of a myriad of different cardboard layers and crush zones. I'm back to having the next six or seven weeks to recycling planned out just to rid myself of cardboard assuming I don't add any more to it of my own. I may have to just load up the van and make another special trip out to the recycling center to get rid of it all. At least it is free minus the gas, time and effort of doing it.

All of this is just a long way of saying it seems like society has gone mad with packaging. We don't eat a lot of prepacked foods so we produce less garbage than many of our peers but anytime I purchase something non-grocery related, it seems excessively packaged. I often get a cardboard box full of smaller cardboard boxes, Styrofoam and multitudes of individually packed pieces in plastic pouches. I end up with three cubic feet of refuse to recycle or throw away for some small item that took up a fraction of that space. I guess it is the selling companies insurance against vindictive Fed-Ex drivers videoed on Youtube doing the shot putt with packages.

Back on the farm, we burnt what we could which reduced the load that needed to be taken to the landfill but at the cost of adding to our environmental woes by sending who knows what chemicals up with the smoke. Here in the city, I'm restricted as to what I can do and burning trash is not an option. So in the end, I make due the best I can and try to reduce my load by recycling all that I can, three cubic feet at a time.


Ron said...

I try to save cardboard for the garden or new trees... very handy as a mulch that breaks down.

My pet peeve is plastic grocery bags... seems every item has to be in its own bag these days.

Vince said...

They say here that the st-foam isn't recyclable.

Ed said...

Ron - Well I certainly had enough cardboard for a forest of trees. I actually insist on paper bags when I go to the grocery store. I hate having to rebag everything in the back of the car after I got home.

Vince - It isn't here either which is why most have switched to cardboard products. The people who sold me the jointer have not heard this news evidently.

sage said...

I like those popcorn replacement things for Styrofoam that is made of cornstarch and will dissolve in water--but then it's made out of a food product...

Murf said...

That is a shame that styrofoam isn't recyclable. It would make me feel better getting that great Coke with crushed ice at Sam's Club. I make do by reusing the cup a few times. Your post makes me want to make composting my 2013 New Years resolution. I always feel bad when toss egg shells and whatnot into the garbage can. As for plastic bags....I hope they keep making them until at least Hooch dies. I do not want to touch that stuff on a walk through a paper bag which is bound to do nothing but absorb any moisture in the solid waste. Eeech.