Waste disposal reform evolved in two distinct stages. The first stage, in the 19th and early 20th century, aimed to improve public health and reduce toxicity: “sanitation theory,” or the idea that filth could contribute to human illness, developed in 1850s England. The second stage, much later, intended to clean up the environment.
By the twentieth century, new technological advances and consumer goods improved lives – automobiles, refrigerators, televisions, and of course plastics – but also created more solid waste. In response, massive dumps and landfills became more prevalent. In 1948, the Fresh Kills landfill was “temporarily” established in Staten Island. (It finally shut down in 2008, after briefly closing in 2001, then reopening on 9/11 to handle disposals from Ground Zero.) At nearly 3,000 acres, Fresh Kills was the world’s largest city dump – and the largest manmade object on the planet. Continue reading
The Trash Bag in History: Part I
The trash bag may be humble, but this unsung invention has nevertheless had the power to change the way we live.
Before the invention of trash bags, managing and disposing of refuse was a dirtier, smellier, less sanitary, and – to use the technical term – “yuckier” job than it is now. Trash bags have no doubt saved countless lives by containing germs and preventing the spread of disease, and they have improved public health by keeping trash out of public areas. Though many vilify plastic bags for contributing to environmental problems, biodegradable trash bags lessen that role. Indeed, good ol’ trash bags can be viewed as downright heroic. Continue reading
Do you have a passion for bags? Craving the must-have bag of the moment, or a timeless bag for the ages? Seeking the bag that best fits your lifestyle? Sniffing around for a smart bag buy – a bag that not only looks great, but also carries its weight?
Read on, consumeristas, because we’re about to share a brilliant Life/Bag Hack that’s going to change your life: How to choose the perfect bag for your needs.
The perfect trash bag, that is. Continue reading
What can we do about plastic in the ocean? It is a disturbing issue, and many good people – from scientists to gurus to regular folks – all want to roll up our sleeves and get involved. Environmentalists are seeking pollution solutions, on both macro and micro levels. Continue reading
Fifty years ago, the movie The Graduate advised us that a great and promising future lay encapsulated in a single word: “Plastics!” The intervening generations seem to have taken this vision seriously – maybe a little too seriously. Now plastic threatens to overwhelm the oceans and saturate the seas: over 165 million tons of plastic resides in the world’s waters, and eight million tons continue to leak in each year. By 2050, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. This plastic deluge causes immeasurable damage to ocean life, and endangers humans as well. But we can take steps to help – by preventing plastic pollution and helping clean up the coasts. And, as a species, we may still be able to turn the tide away from this dangerous course. Continue reading
Now that we’re deep into the middle of fall, many of your outdoor chores are probably winding down. In many places, the lawn has stopped growing, and the mower is safely stored in the shed. The vegetable garden is emptying out, except for any stray pumpkins that survived Halloween. Chances are, you’ve completed your big fall yard cleanup for the year. But there’s one important job that kicks into high gear as the season turns: composting.
Homemade costumes just scream Halloween. They bring you back to your trick-or-treating days, when imagination was a much bigger part of the celebrations. Maybe your mom sewed you a perfect princess dress, maybe you raided the thrift shop, or maybe you just paired a big black garbage bag with a Scream mask, but no matter what, somehow the planning was half the fun.
Things are a little different now. Not everyone has the time, tools, or talent to spend hours hunched over a sewing machine creating a masterpiece, or trawling through second hand stores looking for the perfect finishing touch. That old garbage bag, however, still hold possibilities. If you’d like to reach back and find a little of that homemade Halloween magic, we have a few ideas. Continue reading
Usually, when you read something about how humans are treating the environment, you have to brace yourself. Bad news is everywhere. That’s what we were thinking when we first saw the latest report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA recently released an in-depth report on the state of garbage and recycling in America. The full report is enormous: 186 pages of facts and figures about what people do with old refrigerators and the rate at which municipal compost programs are growing. (Even the name is long: Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Assessing Trends in Material Generation, Recycling and Disposal in the United States.) There’s a slightly more digestible fact sheet available, but it still clocks in at 22 pages of dense information. Realistically, who has time to read that? Continue reading
It’s halfway through September already. We’ve reluctantly let go of summer, the kids are back in school, and in most parts of the country, the weather has turned. The changing of the seasons is always most noticeable out in our own backyards. The luxurious summer growth is over, and to keep everything from looking a bit dead and sad, a concerted cleanup effort is required. Here’s our list of absolutely essential Fall yard cleanup tasks: Continue reading
As you know, all of us here at Plastic Place are big on recycling. Recycling is great for the environment, it’s good for the economy, and there’s even something a bit magical about it: recycling delivers on the promise of alchemy, turning something worthless into something valuable.The benefits are so great that we’re surprised recycling isn’t universal yet. In fact, it’s not even close. Even now, in 2015, plenty of people just chuck everything into the same landfill-bound bag and call it a day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, while an estimated 75% of waste is recyclable, in the USA only about 30% makes it to the recycling plant. Continue reading