CBC's The Hour recently completed their challenge for Canadians to do "One Million Acts of Green". Kudos to all participants. This challenge is still ongoing. For more information check it out here.

The new challenge for Canada, is to reach Two Million Acts of Green. According to the website, they are hoping to reach this new goal by summer. Many businesses and individuals are participating in this effort. Good luck to all. If interested in learning more click here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Other changes that have created more garbage over the years

Changes, changes and more changes. That always seems to be the way of the future, not the way of the past. In one of my earlier posts I mentioned how some things in the area had changed, specifically the introduction of fast-food restaurants to the area, and the effect they had on waste.

Several classmates have mentioned that they enjoyed hearing about some of the items from the past, so I've been thinking more about what has changed. Styrofoam and plastic bags came to mind.

Throughout my youth and my first job, which was in the cafeteria at the K-mart on Huron Line (now Zellers -- which used to be across the street where Canadian Tire is now), I cannot recall any plastic bags other than garbage bags. Every thing was put in a paper bag. Sometimes, really big bags, sometimes little bags -- but all were paper.

The cafeteria used Chinet plates and paper cups for coffee (although I think styrofoam was introduced at some point). When you had a take out order, it went into a lightweight cardboard box or was simply on the paper plate with foil wrapped around it. Even Chinese food was in paper containers. Not much in the way of styrofoam at all.

Then all of a sudden it was everywhere. Styrofoam that is. Plates, cups, containers, little shipping nuggets. Just about anything related to take-out used styrofoam. Pizza however, always used cardboard.

Beverages were another story. Plastic didn't appear until maybe the late 70s in big bottles. Pop bottles were always made of glass, clear or green, maybe the odd brown bottle with something other than beer for contents. Plus you could get money back for them. Every kids dream, collect the bottles and turn them in. Cans weren't very popular at that time. That's been within the last three decades.

Most of the food containers were either glass or cans. When I was in grade school, way back in the 60s, we had a milk program just like the schools today. But our milk containers were way cooler than what you seen with the decorated cartons today. We actually had little milk bottles. They had cardboard pull-tabs and were sooooo cute. Just like the bigger milk bottles only smaller. Yes, we had a milk man, a bread man, the Fuller Brush man and a sheeny man. But that's a completely different post to come.

Even bread didn't come in a plastic bag. It was cello-wrapped, come to think of it sandwiches were in that same material. I remember the kitchen at K-mart had a hot plate to seal the cello-wrap after they made the sandwiches.

Plastic grew in convenience and waste. Unfortunately, this material does not decompose well. It takes forever for it to break down. That's the problem, but even that is slowly changing. Researchers including some in Canada are working on bio-degradable plastic bags. It would be great if this is successful because I hesitate to get rid of these bags since I know they only end up in landfills. The bottom part of bathroom closet is overflowing with all these plastic bags. After all you can only reuse so many. In some ways they're like rabbits, they just keep multiplying. Only difference, rabbits are cute!

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