Picking Plastic

Not sure why I thought glassine windows in envelopes were biodegradable

We keep a small compost heap going, mostly grass clippings and food waste from the kitchen. Since we don’t often have a source of leaves to provide the “brown” material I’ve started using shredded paper; mostly junk mail, old bank statements and envelopes. It always amazes me how the heap works. Mounds of paper and grass clippings, carrot tops, potato peels and celery butts decompose so gracefully to “black gold”.

This morning I’m excited to take the latest crop of compost out and spread it on my planting beds. I lift the bin off its platform and shovel the compost onto a tarp which I’ll drag around for dispersal.

Admiring the pile heaped on the tarp I notice flashes of light, glittering bits like tinsel in the compost. It’s those glassine windows from the envelopes shredded into multitudes. As everything else broke down over the past eight weeks, the plastic stayed intact. Who wants to spread plastic in their garden? I decide to pull the pieces out. Well! I pick through the heap for nearly an hour, piling plastic strips in a handy pot saucer. The pot saucer pile gets larger as the compost heap shrinks.

I see a similar situation over at the school playfield where I walk the dog. Plastic water bottles are dropped on the ground and never retrieved. On Mondays when the mowers come they drive over the bottles, shredding the plastic into small bits that are then strewn across the grassy fields. Instead of a few bottles, there are now dozens and dozens of bits of apparently indestructible plastic to pick up.

I read recently that Patagonia is making outerwear vests from recycled plastic bottles, and proud wearers can feel they are using their purchasing power to help the planet. But when washed, the vests have been discovered to shed particles of plastic fibers that continue on their everlasting way in the world. Can you imagine your life without plastic?


3 responses to “Picking Plastic

  1. I am busy imagining a world without plastic….and let me know if there is a do good group/day.

  2. Thoughts on your blog that come to mind…..What’s in my compost pile that will be on Earth forever?? And who’s going to pick up all that plastic that’s blowing all over the north side of Pecos Road? I had no idea until I started biking west on the stretch between 24th and 17th! Miles of trash!!

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