Globally and locally, humans create environmental burdens. We take from nature valuable nutrients but very rarely return any nutrients in usable form. We (developed countries) have become increasingly reliant on fast food, modern conveniences and disposable goods.
In the past, people would pass down, repair or sell old products. Today with the invention of cheaper synthetic materials, it has become common to toss out old and /or broken items. This in turn leads to the overburdening and overfilling of local landfills.
The WiseguideTM found at worldwise.com states that for every ton of consumer garbage there are five tons of waste at the manufacturing stage and 20 tons of waste at the site of initial resource extraction (mining, pumping, logging and farming). That’s 25 pounds of garbage for every pound of garbage we throw away. And according to Americarecycles.com the average American discards 7.5 pounds of garbage every day.
We need to sustain our resources and choose wisely to keep the Cape and Islands a healthy, inviting place. Instead of using disposable products, durable reusable ones would be ideal. Choosing biodegradable products that have the means to break down into the soil is a great choice. Read labels and do your research to check product claims.
Reduce the load, live simply, buy less, reuse what you already own or pass it on, (swap shops at the local transfer stations can find good homes) reclaim items and use in unusual ways, and continue the loop with recycling, collecting, manufacturing and buying recycled goods.
Some startling facts on length of time for items to break down from the Worldwise guide:
• paper: 2-5 months
• orange peels: 6 months
• cigarette butts: 1-12 years
• plastic bags: 10-20 years
• tin cans: 50-100 years
• glass bottles: 1 million years
• plastic bottles: forever
Every town on the Cape and Islands has a recycling program in place and most have swap shops to pass on items in your community. Click on Mass.gov for local recycling information.
• Cape Cod Center for sustainability
• Cradle to Cradle by McDonough and Braungart
• Just Sustainabilities CHA
LORNA McKENNA KAPLAN, Spring 2006
Lorna McKenna Kaplan strives to live a simple, healthy life as close to nature as possible, sharing with others information she has gathered along her journey. She is a massage therapist specializing in injury treatment for acute and chronic pain at offices in Orleans and Wellfleet. Lorna also holds a B.A in Journalism.