Typically, I don’t really make a big deal out of Earth Day. The biggest reason for that is that like everything else in culture today the objective gets lost in political opinions and debates that seem to be more about who is right rather than what is right. It’s a difficult topic for me to cover and maintain a focus on the positive. But there are a few things that everyone seems to agree on. The biggest issues of the day is all the plastic in our waterways. We see the images on T.V. and the internet of plastic in the ocean and on the beaches but at least some of it came from the streams and rivers of our inland. Even Little Elk Creek that runs through my yard is laden with the debris of so called civilization. The truth is that it’s human nature to simply discard waste. Archaeologists have built careers on the study of Midden Mounds. The main thing that has changed over several thousand years is that our debris and artifacts have become incapable of being recycled by nature. Prior to 1907 most things were either made from wood, ceramics and glass or metal. If anyone discarded these items in the wilderness natural processes dealt with them. Wood of course would rot while the other materials had little more impact than stone. Steel rusted and the resulting iron oxide would be used by nature even if it took a long time. When I was a kid we’d pick up the glass bottles and turn them in for a cash reward. It was usually enough for bottle of Coke and a Hershey bar. Glass was the currency of children in those days. I have the recollection of the pitch for plastic of glass. We were told that it would be easier to recycle plastic because it required less energy to melt it down and reform it into a new product. But soon the deposit was discontinued and picking up bottles out of ditches had no value. We actually have to pay people to haul away the very same items that we once got paid to pick up ourselves. 3D printing might change that. A quick Google search turned up a few articles on a class of 3D printers that consume shredded plastic and turns it into new useable items.
But you don’t need to go high tech. As an example here’s a Howcast video about using a hot iron along with needle and thread to convert disposable plastic bags into a resizable tote.
Another example is this guy who used a toaster oven and recycled plastic to create a woodworking mallet.
Once you get the concept down you’re only limited by your imagination. I have a close friend who’s scrap built starship models are second to none.
But it’s not just the litter in our waterways. There’s enough things like controlling erosion, planting forests and even urban farming that would bring us back to a more natural way of life. For every challenge there’s going to be multiple ways to resolve it on a personal level. We just need to look at the options and set a course. If we wait for someone else to fix it then by default we’ll be the last to benefit from the solutions offered.
Image Titled “Natural Love 4220”.
My last thought on Earth Day 2020 is that I don’t want to focus on the problem as much as I do the solutions and specifically a solution that you can implement all on your own. Even if it’s just bagging up the trash in a park and sending it to a landfill you’re getting it of the wilderness and that’s a good thing.
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