21st Century Dad
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Happy Earth Day 2008

April 22nd, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

A green movement often follows the arrival of a baby. This green movement isn’t exclusive toCrunchy on the Inside With a Soft Suburban Outer Shell disposable or cloth diaper advocates. Both choices have their respective impacts on our earth. We also become aware of the toxic chemicals we keep around the house. The instinctual desire to keep our children safe reveals itself very clearly.

The eco-warrior within was nurtured from an early age. Private schools did things like that, instead of just teaching kids how to pass standardized tests. I bugged my parents to turn off lights in unocupied rooms and start recycling. My choices are often motivated by this consciousness, however, the seduction of convenience puts up a good fight too.

I had written an article about my spotty track record on going green, waiting for the right time to release it. Today is as good a day as any other. This was originally one long article, but I have split it up into smaller chunks. Installments will come out weekly.

Hit the jump to read the first installment of Crunchy on The Inside With a Soft Suburban Outer Coating.

I Love Plastic Bags

They are a marvel of modern chemical engineering. Target and Whole Foods have the best bags – strong, roomy and stylish. Wal-Mart bags have a nice balance between roominess and strength. Publix (local grocery chain) bags are a plain ugly brown, but they get the job done. Perhaps it was my mother’s influence. She saved everything. She even had a system where she would separate the bags without holes from the bags that had holes. She used every free plastic bag she could.

Re-using the plastic shopping bag once is a start. Cost-conscious store owners may even hoard bags to reuse when customers request one. I’ve been to more than one dollar store that engages in this practice. The path to the landfill is prolonged for a few more days, or weeks. It’s incredibly convenient to stash a few in the diaper bag. I even fold them up like a triangle to show off mad origami skills. The Target bags are nice and big. They handle a full load from the Diaper Genie very well.

The Not Quite Crunchy Parent wrote a little piece on how she reuses plastic bags. I can knot them up really small and tight. They make great projectiles to launch at unsuspecting teenage boys. I’m sure you’ve found some clever uses of your own. Leave a comment below.

Plastic bags accumulate faster than we can use them. We recently purchased 5 reuseable cloth bags for grocery shopping. I’ve managed to leave them at the house 2 out of the 3 times I go to the store. New habits take time to develop. I like the idea of these bags. They are much sturdier and can hold a good deal more than each plastic bag.

When I do remember to take the cloth bags, I bring those plastic bags I accumulated (because I forgot to bring my cloth totes) with me so I can deposit them in the recycling bin.

Ziploc bags totally rock too. So do their store-brand brethren. You probably use these resealable plastic bags for dozens of other things besides food. I keep some in my camera bag to keep small accessories organized and to use as emergency rain covers.

Plastic for Future Generations

I wonder what happens to the trash we stash inside these bags. When these pesky parasites on Mother Earth are finally gone, will their polyethylene legacy live on? Will some future archaeologists be greeted with the foul stench of 200 million year old garbage when they accidentally puncture one of these bags?

What about breast implants? They can’t be biodegradable either. Imagine the field day that future archaeologists will have when they encounter ancient human burial sites. Why are there plastic bags filled with salt water resting on the rib cages of the females, especially in the area once known as Southern California?

We put a lot of plastic into our landfills. When humans are finally extinct, what will remain? Just as the dinosaurs died off and created deposits of petroleum, will we leave behind deposits of plastic that future miners will dig up, refine, and fashion into consumer goods?

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6 Responses to “Happy Earth Day 2008”

  1. comment number 1 by: The Not Quite Crunchy Parent

    LOL- there are many of us who love plastic bags. I think you are on the right track…if we can reuse them as many times as possible we’re at least doing some good.

    I save everything…even old broken egg beaters, broken plastic toys, bags with holes for art and science projects…you never know what kids can invent!

  2. comment number 2 by: Beth

    I’ve also been switching over to cloth bags for shopping (and forget to bring them as often as I take them!)…It’s amazing how the plastic bags spawn in my garage!

    I’ve seen them turned into lengths to be used for crocheting and knitting…tried it once myself, but I didn’t have my gauge right. I’ll have to try it again now that i know a bit more about the craft. 😉

    (Ah, and I am also crunchy on the inside with a soft suburban shell. yepyep.)

  3. comment number 3 by: Greg

    One way I reuse plastic bags is to keep them in the bathroom cupboard for the once a week emptying of bathroom/bedroom garbage cans. They’re the perfect size for those small trash cans.

  4. comment number 4 by: Heather

    Ha ha Elliott,
    When I read your first line about a green “movement” following the birth of a baby, I my first thought was about baby poop. Sorry. I’m feeling unsophisticated today.

  5. comment number 5 by: Heather

    And by the way, I have a big ball of plastic bag “yarn” in my cabinet, waiting to be crocheted into something useful… It’s been growing for months.

  6. comment number 6 by: 21st Century Dad

    LOL Heather!!!!!!!!!

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