Repurposing. Upcycling. Grandma called it “frugal”. Faced with a piece of clothing that had seen its last possible use, she would remove the buttons and zippers before committing the rest to the rag-bag. Mom re-uses aluminum foil and plastic sandwich bags and removes the original thread for use again when she shortens a skirt.
Years ago, empty glass milk bottles were placed into the insulated box on the porch and picked up for re-use. Soda bottles were worth a few cents when you took them back to the market. Cloth diapers went out of vogue in the late 1940’s. Disposable razors, lighters, drink bottles and cameras followed.
Paper towels and plastic grocery bags! It was so much easier to toss it all into the trash without a thought as to where it all went. In the late 1960's recycling household products became popular, and today most municipalities require it, however, there remains no Federal recycling standard or requirement.
Rescuing the fabric used in our SAQs led me to wonder how long they might have taken to break down had they actually made it to the landfill. While decomposition rates will vary according to conditions, I found that wool will probably break down after one - five years. Nylon and other synthetics can take forty years or more. Consider that fabric has been recovered, reasonably intact, from the pyramids!
What about our other “trash”?
In ideal conditions, exposed to air and sunlight, a glass bottle will finally break down ...in a million years. A plastic bottle, on the other hand, will be around for about 450 years. Tin cans and styrofoam cups ... 50 years. Absent light and oxygen, the rate of decomposition can be extended dramatically.
I’ve come to believe that we each have a personal responsibility to do what we can to reduce our own footprint. Most of the things you can do are cost-effective and easy to accomplish. This is the only planet we’re ever going to have. Please do your part.
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CA Penny SAQs. Functional Art. Earth Friendly.