We’ve all seen the articles either in a magazine or online. The question asked is how long it takes certain items to decompose. I recently clipped one and it offered the following information on how long certain items stay with us after their trip to the landfill. Paper towels two to four weeks; banana peels three to four weeks; paper bags one month ; newspaper one-and-a-half month; milk cartons five years; tin cans – 50 years; aluminum cans 200 – 500 years; disposable diapers – 550 years; plastic bags – 200 – 1,000 years. These are just a few examples of the list but I think we can all agree that these are some pretty scary numbers.
After reading these I started thinking back to changes that have come about in the last fifty years that have added some of the highest numbers to that list.
Disposable diapers rank high on the list of concerns. My research says that the first disposable diaper was marketed in 1948. However, they did not really become common usage until the nineteen sixties. Growing up in a large family with eight siblings younger than me I saw my share of cloth diapers. I am sure many of you share memories of rinsing out soiled diaper before placing it in a pail to soak until wash day. I remember, before Mom got a dryer, hanging dozens of diapers on the line to dry year round. I remember taking them off the line in the dead of winter when they were frozen solid and bringing them in to pace on a wooden clothes rack to complete drying over a register. I remember when my daughter was born in 1965 that the hospital gave me a small package of Pampers as a part of my new baby gift bag when I went home. I used what they gave me but could not afford to buy any more. I returned to the cloth diapers that I had received as shower gifts and followed the same routine my mother had before me. They were washed and hung to dry. It was just the way things were done. Looking at these numbers I am glad I did. If not my children’s diapers would still be sitting in the landfill.
How about that question that we all faced in the early seventies when we completed our grocery shopping? What was the right answer to the dreaded paper or plastic question? The brown paper grocery bags of my childhood served not only as a way to transport the weekly shopping they could be used as book covers, trash can liners, and the base for all kinds of art projects. The activists told us paper bags were bad. Their productions took down too many trees and then the water and electricity required to produce them made the humble paper bag public enemy number one for the environmentally conscience. Also they were heavier and it took more fuel to transport. They were declared a hazard on so many levels. It took only a few years before we were no longer offered a choice. Plastic bags were the right thing to do.
In today’s world milk can be found in plastic bottles or waxed cardboard cartons. It can no longer be found in reusable glass bottles. Those bottles from the first half of the twentieth century are prized and collected but only as something to look at. T The experts told us they were too heavy to transport and it took too much water and time to clean before they could be refilled. The result is the limited choices we have today that, while they may be lighter for transport, are clogging up the landfills.
When reading these things I have to wonder if all these changes have really made things better. Have we solved one problem only to create a worse one? Personally, I don’t like milk in plastic or waxed cartons. I think it takes on a taste from the containers and I don’t think it holds as long as the old way. The experts say that disposable diapers are better than cloth because cloth has to be washed and that uses water and detergents and electricity. I wonder about the use of petroleum based products to produce them along with the power needed for production. I wonder about an archeologist 300 years from now. Can you imagine what they will think about the millions of those things buried n a landfill? And then there are the dreaded plastic bags. They don’t biodegrade. They are petroleum based. They are the number one cause of litter according to a number of published reports. They strangle sea creatures when dumped in the oceans and waterways and are a hazard to waterfowl and other animals. Are they really a better option than paper?
One final note for all of us who think we are doing the right things by going to reusable totes and canvas bags to replace plastic. There are a number of red flags being raised these green alternatives. The dangers include contaminations for leaking packages of meat or other products. They hold viruses and bacteria from anyone or anything that comes in contact with them. Cases of everything from the common cold to head lice to other bacterial or virus borne diseases have been laid to reusable bag contamination. The CDC says the only way to avoid it is regular washing of the bags. That reduces their useful life and it uses water, detergent and electricity. There is also concern that many of the bags are hand wash in cold only. Sometime that is not enough to kill the threat.
Like so many things I have observed this one has my head spinning and questioning which expert opinion shall I follow today? No matter what I do someone will tell me it is the wrong thing!
Recent drawing winners for the 50-week club at the Perkinsville Fore Department were Ed Miller on July 30, Todd Forsythe on August 6, and Tom and Linda Oas on August 13.
This is the weekend to celebrate the 125 Anniversary of the Fearless Hook and Ladder Company of Perkinsville, and there is a full slate of activities for everyone to enjoy. On Friday, Aug. 18 a Water Ball Competition will be held at the Perkinsville Rod and Gun starting at 6:30 PM. On Saturday there will be an Open House at the Fire Hall from 2 to 7 PM. There will activities for the whole family and lots of food. The Band Gemini starts to play at 8 PM and will continue until midnight. Come out and help celebrate 125 years of service to the community.
The Wayland Historical Society is gearing up for the annual Garage and Bake Sale be held Aug. 24, 25 and 26 at the Museum from 9 AM until 3 PM each day. The Bake Sale takes place only on Saturday the 26. This event is a major fundraiser for the Society and your support is important.
The Wayland Rotary Club is holing a Car Show and Food Truck Rodeo on Saturday, Aug. 26, from 10 AM until 4 PM at Victory Park. Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy the cars and food. You can find more information on their Facebook page of by calling Jean at 585-353-5284.
The 9 Annual Cohocton Free Clothing Giveaway will be held on Saturday, Aug. 26, from 10 AM until 2 PM at the Cohocton Elementary gym. If you have good usable items they will be accepting donations up until the 25th.
Chair Yoga is returning to the Wayland Library in September. The latest 5-week session runs on Fridays from Sept. 22 through Oct. 20 from 10 – 11 AM. The fee is $25 per-person and is due by September 15. Cal 728-5380 to register.
With the summer season winding down the Trust in the Lives of Older Women group will return to their normal meeting schedule at the Wayland Library. On Wednesday, Sep. 6, Carol McManus, special assistant to Assemblyman Joe Errigo will be on hand to discuss the fall plans and activities of the Assemblyman including his fight for increased state aid for farmers, repeal of the SAFE act, an end to Common Core, and improved access to health care for seniors. This promises to be an interesting and informative program. There are special plans in the works for the Sept. 20 meeting which will be revealed on the 6. On Oct. 4 Christa Barrows from Noyes Health will do a fun, interactive session describing the Living Healthy Classes that will be coming to the Wayland Library in October. All meetings of the TLOW group are open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.
About fifty family members plus some friends gathered at the State Park on Keuka Lake for the annual Lawrence Family and Friends Party. The weather was perfect and everyone in attendance reports having a wonderful time.
Have a great week.
(Carol Lawrence Mykel writes News from Perkinsville and Wayland. You can contact her with news, notes, tidbits, milestones or just to say hi by calling (585) 728-3668 or e-mail at email@example.com.