Monday, November 24, 2014

We all want to be environmentally friendly and do the right thing for our planet, don't we?  But how do we know which choices will leave the smallest footprint, and which items to throw away and which items to recycle?  Finding the right answers are hard and when you do, they may surprise you.

The SSL Family Dad and I love to watch Ted Talks.  If you haven't heard of Ted, click here.  Ted talks are available on all different topics but we seem to migrate to those dealing with sustainability and farming.   One talk we watched earlier this year really changed the game for us, and I just love it when that happens.  I love it when information just hits you over the head and changes the way you look at life forever. 

This talk is so powerful, I think you should watch it right now and then finish reading this article because I will never do this topic the justice it deserves by trying to explain it to you myself.  For those of you who are worried about burning up your data for the month like I would be, click HERE for the transcript of this talk.

And for those of you who didn't have time to watch or read it, I'll recap for you but only if you promise to watch or read it later.  It's seriously THAT good.

The speaker, Leyla Acaroglu, states that "everything at some point comes from nature, and it's how you use the material that dictates the environmental impact....what we need to do is we need to learn to do more with less."

Biodegradable materials, such as paper bags, do not decompose in a landfill the same way they would in nature.  Landfills are anaerobic (meaning no oxygen) and biodegradable materials emit methane gas when they degrade. Some facilities actually capture the methane gas and use it to generate power, which is a good thing, and gives us an alternative to fossil fuels.   Bottom line is, if you're going to pick the paper bag but take it home and throw it in your garbage destined for a landfill that does not generate power with its methane gas, then you're not picking the best choice for the environment.  Landfills should be our last resort for items we cannot reuse or recycle. 

Reduce, reuse and recycle.  Sounds so "elementary", doesn't it? 

So the best answer to the great paper or plastic debate is actually neither.  The best option is to use reusable bags instead.  But if you really need to pick one, pick paper.  And reuse that paper bag, and then compost it.

Writing this article has forced me to look at everything we're doing now with our waste as a result of this talk we watched, and I have to laugh because it seems that a majority of what we do here at Simple Suburban Living is centered around our trash.  That surprised me, a lot.  But it also reminded me that we are being good stewards of our planet by being good stewards of our garbage.  Here comes Luke 16:10 again, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much."  It's so true, isn't it?

We've made some serious changes around our little homestead this year with regards to what we do with our trash.  So this week, we'll be sharing how our family reduces the amount of our waste that ends up in a landfill.

We're calling it Garbage 101.  (And don't forget to watch that video!)

This post has been shared at:  Homestead Barn Hop, The Backyard Farming Connection Hop, Homestead Blog Hop


  1. Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop! Hope to see you again next week. :)