Monday, May 30, 2011
The Ultra Green Party
But when I got to the store they had these nifty disposable items made out of cornstarch! Flatware and cups! And the plates made from sugar cane. And all of them are suitable for composting.
So I bought them all.
However, you know, when you thow something out, if you just toss it in the garbage, that garbage in landfills is packed so tightly, that even if you DO get something that will break down, there is no oxygen in there. Nothing is really breaking down at all. And if so, not that fast. These things are supposed to break down in 60-150 days in the proper conditions (Those conditions not being a landfill.)
No sweat, I thought, I'll just collect the stuff from the guests and compost it myself. This prompted one guest to comment dryly that I was "a lot of fun at parties...." AndAnd it was messy. We had pulled pork, and baked beans and coleslaw....
But dutifully, I collected the stuff to do my part and put it all in this huge bowl that I have for moving out to the pile.
However, after everyone left I noted that the flatware was rather thick (and as I recalled, not that cheap) and how hard would it be to just wash it. (Not very) So I did. Same with the cups. This made me wonder why I even bought these things at all, I mean if I'm going to wash cups anyway, why not just use real ones. In fact, I even have a high effencicy dish washer...
So now I have some thick cornstrach plastic cups and flatware that I wouldn't buy to have in my house in the first place.
I don't even think I can recycle them because they aren't technically made of plastic and have no recycle # on the bottom.
I've been thinking we can use them for eating outside and picnics all summer long and by the end of the summer the utensils will start getting smaller and smaller and the cups will spring leaks :-)
As much as they are touted as a nice alternative to plastic and paper someone still had to make these in a factory somewhere and then ship them all the way to my Wegmans where they were waiting for someone like me who wants to feel all good about themselves for making better choices. They were still using resources to make and ship them just so I could hold my pulled pork sandwich on my lap for 15 minutes. It hardly seems worth it. A better choice would have been to use plates I already had.
Unless you compost them yourself, it's only a marginally better choice. And even at that, how many plates do you really want to collect from your guests and then have to compost yourself? Probably not many. How many parties is this really realistic for?
In the interest of seeing how these things work, I buried all of the plates, one cup and one fork to see if/when they break down. I also left 2 cups next to the pile, but exposed to the elements to see what happens to those. I'll report back in 150 days.
On the plus side, I think if you are going to throw awaqy utensils and cups, these are your probably your best bet because they aren't made of plastic and do have a better chance (small though it may be) of breaking down than your average solo cups.
But for me, I'll just go back to what I was doing before-using things I already owned, which I always think is the most earth-friendly thing you can do....
What on earth was I thinking anyway?