Keeping our Planet and our Souls Intact

Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul
-Edward Abbey*

via Environment Canada 

Lately I've been seeing a lot of products claiming to be biodegradable and compostable.  I am thrilled that so many industries are feeling pressured to offer more earth friendly products, but I can't ignore the false understanding that these products can bring to consumers.  Biodegradable and compostable products only break down appropriately under the right conditions.  They usually need exposure to oxygen and microbes, two important elements that are lacking in today's landfills.  Buying certified biodegradable or compostable plates, diapers, plastic cups or sneakers only helps if you can send them off to a large scale composting facility. Sending them off to the same old landfills isn't completing the cycle and doesn't yield the intended outcomes.  You can learn more about this issue as it pertains to plastics here.

 So what can a regular person do to contribute to the solution rather than the problem?  Here are some tips and ideas that we try to keep in mind.  I'd love to hear your comments, ideas and suggestions too.

- Forget about disposable convenience products and re-discover the not-so-inconvenient originals
- Donate or sell stuff that you no longer want through freecycle, ebay or your local domestic violence shelter
- Remember that even old stained and ripped fabric is accepted at your local SPCA where they turn it into bedding for homeless pets
- Support your local thrift shops and find unique treasures that someone else was kind enough to donate
- Before making any new purchases, ask yourself, "How long with this last, and what will become of it when it's finished?".  If the answers disturb you, consider finding an alternative.
- Challenge your family to reduce the amount of trash you produce through re-use, composting and recycling (remember that if you don't buy that packaging, you won't have to dispose of it later)
- Reduce first, reuse next and then recycle

I've found that striving for a sustainable life means living a less expensive and more fulfilling one. We can't do everything all at once, but we can all make informed decisions and take deliberate steps in the right direction. 

*I lifted this great quote from a Vermont based business that is committed to educating the public about the principles of cradle to cradle purchasing and appropriate "disposal" (with this model nothing is actually wasted).  Check them out here.  Read more about the cradle to cradle principles straight from their source here


  1. I get so crazed by the relentless marketing of "green" products. The "greenest" option is almost always to NOT buy something and find an alternative that already exists. Avid consumerism is pretty much the biggest contributor to environmental problems.

    I've gotten more than one request from various "green" companies to market their products on my site. And I always tell them that I think being environmentally responsible means not buying junk, even junk labeled green.

    I'm a little more polite in my phrasing to them, though. :-)

  2. Great post. I am purging my house right now to prepare for a garage sale - then a Goodwill donation. I like your idea about the old blankets, etc... for animal shelters. I have some blankets that they could really use. My son and I will make a trip down to our local shelter. Also, check out - I posted a link to it on my own blog - it goes right in line with what your blog just talked about. Thanks!!!

  3. AnonymousMay 05, 2010

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I wanted to add that there are groups of people who are trying to solve some of our pollution problems. There isn’t any simple answer and it doesn’t look like the human race is going to cut back on consumption…at least not in the foreseeable future. Our company is an environmental company that decided to do something about plastic bottle (container) pollution. Billions of bottles and containers are manufactured every year and more than 70 percent goes into our landfills. We knew something needed to be done about the problem so developed the ENSO biodegradable plastic bottle. Our bottle biodegrades in the anaerobic environment of a landfill leaving behind biogases and humus. Biogases contain methane which we all know is a serious greenhouse gas; fortunately, landfill operators are mandated by law to capture landfill gases. Landfill methane is now an important part of the “Waste to Energy” program. We support that program and the development of bioreactor landfills. There isn’t any one perfect answer for solving our problems and the ENSO bottle isn’t the final answer either but it better than taking a do nothing approach. Thanks again for your blog, I enjoyed reading what you wrote.

    “Bottles for a Healthier Earth”

  4. Max - I'm glad to see that technology is evolving to meet the demands of a society that as you say, isn't willing to cut back on consumption. For all of us who do work toward this goal, there are so many more who do not.

    I checked out your website and liked what I saw. Here's hoping you can convince the bigger companies to make the switch!