Happy Earth Day to you

June 24th 2009 State Fair 


Earth Day brings up a lot of mixed emotions for me, like Martin Luther King Jr day, because, lwith big, important issues like ecology and racism,well, it's important to keep educating yourself even if it's painful at times, to both acknowledge the progress we've made and the distance we still need to travel.

Our family did an experiment for this holiday; starting a month ago, we began saving all of our non-recyclable plastic trash. Now here's something to celebrate; Madison has a recycling program of which the city is justifiably proud, so all of our #1-4 plastics get collected and recycled every two weeks. This is starting to sounds like the fortunately-unfortunately book my brother loved as a kid. So fortunately, we recycle a fair amount, unfortunately, there's plenty left over. We set out to find out just how much.

This is the first time I'll be posting photos of our trash on the blog!

But here it is:

Earth day 1

A month's worth of plastics. The orange sled and laundry basket are both cracked beyond repair. 

Time for the weigh-in:

Earth day 2

Our scale always like's to get a headstart–four pounds to be exact. The grand total then was 16 pounds. Belle and I put our heads together with our neighborhood directory and counted the number of people and houses, then she created a key with each person equaling four pounds a month. We could hardly believe when she carefully crunched all of the numbers and found that the folks on our block contribute 684 pounds of plastic to the trash piles and ocean plastic islands each month. Wow. Then we tackled the kids' school, which is pretty small, but still, everyone there has kids, so a bigger number than our block; turned out to be 1600-some for the families of the students at teh school. Li'l Buddy didn't do much calculating, but he watched with interest as the final number came out (Belle took the figures to school with her, so I'm sorry I can't provide pics with the scientist's handwriting and exact numbers).

He looked at the tally and shook his little head.

"That's a lot, isn't it?" I asked.

"That's kind of sad," said Li'l Buddy.

So unfortunately, lots and lots and lots of plastic that'll live longer than me goes out of our neighborhood. But as we talked about it, the kids and I decided that, fortunately, we can learn from what we've gathered. We're going to look at all of the plastic that comes into our house and try to figure out if there's a way to use cardboard or any other materials that will break down better instead. Once we're used to it, we'll collect our trash again. And we'll go for smaller numbers this time!

Happy Earth Day, everyone. It's good to be here on this planet all together, isn't it? It's our favorite one.

2 thoughts on “Happy Earth Day to you

  1. Look closely at that yellow plastic shopping bag and the Walgreens bag–usually on the side printing where they say what company made the bag. Those are usually made of #2 plastic. I toss mine in with the regular 1&2 recycling.
    Fortunately you won’t be throwing away a laundry basket or sled every month right?

  2. That’s a great tip!
    You know, the laundry basket is trashed, but I’m not sure I would have thrown it out this month except that it made a great container for the other stuff and made weighing it easier. SO I debated about including it, but we actually did throw away an old plastic carseat that didn’t make it into the count ‘cuz we were hiding it from the kids. Definitely noticed that kid stuff made up a significant chunk of the junk….think we can find recyclable wicker carseats anywhere?;)

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