Garbage. It’s part of modern life. But does it need to be that way?
Of course not. It would be easy to do without it. Unilever is experimenting with Loop, which is reusable and refillable packaging. The packaging itself is recycled, some of it from beach plastic via TerraCycle. Loop has not come to Washington State yet, though I emailed Unilever and asked them to start it here as quickly as possible.
There’s composting, which is mandatory in Seattle. There’s garden composting, whereby I put coffee grounds on the lawn and watch it get greener.
There’s reuse. When you throw your beer bottle in the recycling, it will probably be reused dozens of times before someone who’s had a few too many breaks it. You can increase the likelihood that your beer bottle will be reused by buying beer in standard brown bottles with no branded markings on the glass itself.
Any time someone says that trash is inevitable, I like to remind them that while our ancestors certainly produced waste, it was generally biodegradable or not harmful. Ancient Rome’s used packaging is still heaped in a big pile, but it’s not particularly harmful. In fact, the garbage dump has been reused for religious processions, as a fortress, and as a giant wine cellar.
Unfortunately, a lot of stuff we buy comes wrapped in plastic, and plastic is a much larger problem than pottery. The stuff is choking the oceans. To make sure we are not contributing to this probelm, we have Ridwell.
For about $10/ month, they deliver a box to your house and pick it up from your porch twice a month. Their largest category is plastic film, which is pretty much everywhere and not often recycled in your curbside bin. You simply rinse or wash off any food debris and stuff the plastic their reusable cloth bag.
Ridwell covers other categories as well. They recycle and reuse “threads,” which is mostly clothing. Reusable clothing is taken to charity, and what’s no longer wearable can be recycled. Textiles rot and emit methane in a landfill. Recycled clothing can be turned into denim insulation, which is suitable for walls in your house. Having used both this stuff and the nasty fiberglass insulation, I can tell you that denim is much better to work with. There are no gloves and no mask required, and your work clothes don’t become horribly itchy afterwards.
Ridwell also picks up your old batteries, lightbulbs, and power cables. By picking this stuff up all at once from your neighborhood, they cut down on trips to the hazardous waste center. It’s better for everyone.