Sunday, April 13, 2008

Plastic, Plastic, Plastic

I'm remembering the movie, The Graduate, when somebody gives career advice to Dustin Hoffman as the new college grad, "Just one word. Plastics." (see it on YouTube here).

Environmentalist daughter just dropped off some Ecobags to use for produce when shopping. Another way to eliminate the ubiquitous plastic bags that make their way even into "green" stores like Whole Foods.

But here's the question: how can I stop depending on plastic bags for things like wet garbage, drippy spinach leaves from the produce mister at the store, etc..

How did people in the olden days dispose of wet, smelly garbage not fit for the compost pile? What do you do with vegetables or fruits that need to stay in the fridge for days or weeks, but are too large or bulky for airtight containers (most of which are also plastic but reusable)? Readers, what do you know about this?


  1. All uncooked vegetable matter can be composted. The woody stuff might have to go through the composting process twice. Leftovers either go to the chickens or the dog. Chickens are great for processing leftovers. They can turn them into eggs! I can't do that.

  2. There are now biodegradable garbage bags made from corn. Growing too much corn is another environmental issue though...

  3. Vegetable matter is one thing, but animal products (eggshells, fat, meat scraps) are another. Hey, what about used coffee grounds? Yea or nay?
    Maj. Reader

  4. I don't think you can go completely plastic-free but it's possible to drop alot. I put wet spinach in the ecobags since they can be put in the wash if they get damp or dirty. Coffee grounds can go in compost. Broccoli can be cut in smaller pieces to fit in a container. I always look for alternatives to plastic but I'm okay with it if I can't come up with anything else. - H

  5. Egg shells can be composted!!! So can coffee grounds as they really are just ground up seeds of the coffee plant. Fats and meat scraps are big no nos as they will entice RATS!

  6. But don't raccoons (and other varmints) go after eggshells? I'm presuming that no one washes the shells out first, right? Maj. R.

  7. Raccoons? We don't have those here so I keep forgetting about them. No, they might lick the egg shells in passing but only after they've eaten the egg. Egg shells have no nutritional value to mammals and will walk all over them if they're empty. Washing them seems to be a bit fiddly. (You also run the risk of looking like a city girl.) Just crush them and put 'em on!

    I throw so much on the compost. Paper, tea bags, shredded cardboard, grass cuttings, old flower arrangements . . . .

  8. my latvian friend in mpls has a small crock on her countertop into which she dumps all compostables...she then empties it into a regular composter out in her garden. the only things she doesn't add are, as peggy said, meat scraps. but since she is vegetarian, that's not a problem. egg shells do make especially good compost. just bash em up a bit.

    i never run garbage through my disposal,'s like throwing garbage into the potomac, as far as im concerned.

    in the olden days, we wrapped up the garbage after each meal in old newspaper and then carried it out to the garbage can. if you didn't drain the garbage well, the newspaper would get very wet and run the risk of splitting while you were carrying it.

    many housewives kept a strainer in the sink for their garbage. that way it drained nicely while the family had dinner and washed the dishes. it would be dry enough to wrap in newspaper by then.

    we didn't tie it with string, either. just wrapped it up and hauled it out to the can.

    garbage cans were very stinky in those days.

  9. Thanks to everyone for all the input! I checked our U of I Extension site on this, and of course, they had good composting advice. Take a look at this:
    So, yes, I can use crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, uncolored paper, but I'm going to go easier on the soil layers - makes it too heavy.
    Maj. R.


What do you think?