Monday, April 9, 2007

On throwing it all away:

At a time when we are facing what is perhaps the worst crisis in human history--man-made global climate change-- why are we adding more throw away items to the pantheon of consumer products? Do we need disposable everything? Is a little convenience worth the demise of our planet—our only home?

I’m talking about throw-away mop heads, toilet brushes, bibs, food storage containers, dusting cloths, as well as products that increase the amount of cleaning product you use to do a job like cleaning your toilet or shower by automating it. I’ve never tried one of these things but I’ll hazard a wild guess: you probably have to scrub at least occasionally anyway. (Personally I find that good old (cheap old) baking soda and vinegar, along with a little elbow grease, clean just about everything very well and anything else can be dealt with by Citra-Solv or Ecover All Purpose Lemon Cleaner.)

The marketing strategy of cleaning products companies is fairly transparent. Disposable mop heads and toilet brushes mean you need to buy more products from them! Gizmos that continuously and automatically spray or drip chemicals into your toilet or shower are wasting your money as well as our environment.

Disposable diapers and their attendant disposal contraptions may be the worst offenders of all. People think I’m a little crazy because I cloth diaper my son, but it’s really not that difficult. Ask any mother of a baby or small child, she’ll tell you she does laundry (and has close encounters with poop) almost every day anyway. And our diaper bucket barely smells. We don’t individually wrap every paper and plastic-heavy diaper in its own plastic bag or shrink wrap bubble or take the trash out every day because the kaka is where it belongs: in the toilet! (By the way, technically it is illegal to put human waste in the trash. If you don’t believe me, check the small print on a bag of disposable diapers!) The clincher? Cloth diapering will save you approximately $3,000 by the time you potty train each kid! (source: www.babyworks.com)

It’s not just paper or aluminum that counts. Everything that you buy, use, even recycle, puts additional demand on all kinds of resources: trees, water, fossil fuels (which in turn pollute our atmosphere) through not just its manufacture, but its packaging, transport and disposal.

If more people put a little extra thought into their purchases and a little extra elbow grease into their household chores, we might all get to live here on Earth just a little longer.

If you love convenience mops like many of my friends, check out new products with removable, machine washable mopheads by Casabella (available at Linens ‘n Things, Whole Foods and The Container Store), and other brands at www.gaiam.com and www.realgoods.com

If I haven't quite convinced you that you want to cloth diaper but you want to do a little better than plastic-heavy diapers and a Diaper Genie there are some good eco disposables out there: Tushies Gel-free are my favorite for traveling, Seventh Generation and Whole Foods are non-chlorine bleached, and new g diapers are semi-reusable. With any diaper, you can knock most of the kaka into the toilet easily saving you from using another layer of plastic to save yourself from the smell.

1 comment:

chigiy said...

I'm with you on this waste issue. I rarely eat fast food but one trip to McD's and you can practically fill a dumpster with the amount of garbage that's left over, never mind the garbage in your body.