When we talk about helping the environment often times we speak about recycling instead of “landfilling” our trash or garbage. This July, Rebecca and I started composting our food waste. Composting is a way of recycling nutrients back to the earth. One of the display items we showed during our Green Team presentations this summer was a food waste collection container loaned by Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) for special occasions like weddings, picnics and graduations. It really isn’t that special. It is just a large plastic garbage can lined with a biodegradable plastic bag. The container is returned to WLSSD and the food scraps are composted. This project prompted an excellent question for Prof. Cricket from an Iowa woman. She asked, “Why don’t food and yard waste return to the earth in a landfill when they do in a compost pile?” To understand why landfills don’t compost our waste, Prof. Cricket will give a mini-lesson in the construction of a landfill. Landfills are actually like condominiums or tombs for our garbage. In the old days we had dumps. Anything and everything was thrown into a pile. Some places burned the garbage and others covered it up. The problem was that there were no safeguards in place. Poisons could leach out of the dumps and into our water. Dumps were stinky places and often breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects and rodents. Today landfills are constructed. A lengthy process including an environmental impact study in which many experts such as geologists, biologists, social scientists and engineers scrutinize the effect of the landfill on the natural and social environment. Landfills are lined with clay and plastic to prevent leachate or garbage-juice from leaking out. They are actually designed to slow down decomposition. A series of tubes and pipes are included underneath, through and around the landfill. These pipes collect the leachate to treat it so that it doesn’t containment water. Some of the leachate turns to methane gas and is vented through the pipes. Each day the garbage at a landfill is covered with soil, which helps prevent odors and pests. This process is repeated until a section or cell is full. One landfill has many cells. When it is full it is capped off with clay and soil. It still needs to be monitored for future years.
Prof. Cricket wonders, “If a steak bone with meat on it is thrown in our kitchen garbage can, then to our alley trash can; picked up by our garbage truck and then transported and dumped into a sanitary landfill, which is later sealed and capped, will there still be meat on the bone 15 years later?” An Anthropology professor at the University of Arizona, William L. Rathje, conducted several archeological excavations on landfills in Arizona, California and Illinois. This was named, “The Garbage Project.” He said of landfills, “They are vast mummifiers.” His team found readable newspapers, hot-dogs and a T-bone with meat and fat on it. This archeological projected showed that a well-designed and managed landfill slows biodegration of some organic garbage to a standstill. Some never did start to biodegrade. According to the EPA Americans throw away 25 percent of the food we prepare. This amounts to 96 million pounds of food waste. It costs us $1 billion.So while today’s landfill is a way to protect our water supply from dangerous pollutants and also prevent disease-carrying vermin. They aren’t a very good way to return organic materials to the earth.
While United Methodists don’t traditionally urge members to give up something for Lent, Prof. Cricket, and I, as your UMW Green Team representative are going to give you a challenge. See if you can refuse to use Styrofoam this Lenten Season. Do you thing it will be easy or hard? You might be surprised how often Styrofoam is used.
The first summer I gave up using Styrofoam, I actually lost weight while traveling and attending street fairs. That is because a lot of greasy, calorie laden foods are packaged and served with Styrofoam. Also once you stop to think about what you are doing, you usually decide to go for the more healthy choice. I once searched for 20 minutes and settled on a bison burger, because it was served in a paper tray. Oranges and bananas also don’t need packaging. If you are organized you can plan ahead and pack your own sandwiches, mugs and water bottles.
I like to be polite and sometimes it can be hard when refusing a treat served on Styrofoam. The other night I was out at Hammond’s Steakhouse in Superior. I had too much steak and noticed that the waitress was packaging other’s leftovers in Styrofoam containers. I knew Prof. Cricket would love some steak. I had a dilemma. Do I leave good leftover steak or use a Styrofoam take-out container?
I politely told the waitress I didn’t use Styrofoam and did she have a bag or aluminum foil so I could bring the leftover home to my dog. She quickly found both. Prof. Cricket was very happy that night and the next day, with her steak leftover treat.
The reasons the national United Methodist Women are asking you not to use Styrofoam are:
The production of Styrofoam takes 10 times as much water as washing a ceramic cup.
Styrofoam contains chemicals that over time and continuous exposure (even in small amounts) can build up in the body and cause many health issues. One U.S. EPA study of human fat biopsies found styrene residues in every single sample.
Some of the waste productions in Styrofoam production are known cancer causing agents
Disposal of foam products results in the overfilling of landfills with bulky, non-degrading plastics.
CFCs used to make foam packaging deplete the ozone layer.
Dispersal of the chemical precursors and waste byproducts used in the manufacture of Styrofoam pollutes the environment.
The face behind this cake has just turned 17, a recruiter already had her home telephone number.
The school is supposed to notify you that military recruiters will possibly contact your child. I don’t remember seeing this from my daughter high school, but it is possible that it was stated in some of the newsletters that are sent out. If you don’t want your child recruited shortly after his or her 17th birthday, you must notify the school in writing that you do not want any branch of the military to contact your son or daughter. If you do not do this, the military will pitch a sales talk to your child. If your child is having a hard time with school, your child is some type of a special needs child or your family is socially or economically disadvantaged, think twice before you encourage your son or daughter to join.
Is the driving force for him or her to join are the college benefits, the money, adventure or travel?
If you don’t want your child recruited here is what you do:
1.Write a short note to your child’s principal. State that you do not want your child’s personal information to be given out to the armed forces. You wishes must be respected. This is under law under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERT)
2. Hopefully by this time you have spoken to your child about your feelings of war, his or her future and how the military does or does not fit with your family’s religious values. If you have never spoken to your child about this subject, today would be a good time to have that talk.
For more information contact Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors
For information for young people looking to the military as a way for a brighter future, but not sure about the military Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO) can help with options. Contact Project YANO, PO Box 230157, Encinitas, CA 92023 Phone (760- 634-3604) ; www.projectyano.org
No Child Left Un-recruited A Happy 17th Birthday phone call courtesy of the US Army
By Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff
The No Child Left Behind Act has forced me to deal with an issue that I thought I could let slide by because I was female. I believe that the use of violence to solve problems is wrong. War brings out the worst in humans. Because I never had to register for the selective service, like all males living in the United States have to do, I never went public with my feelings.
In October, 2005, I did something I’ve wanted to do for many years. I entered a Quaker Meeting House, (Church) The biggest reason I did this was because I wanted to meet with people who believed in the world could be changed without the use of violence.
The Quaker meetinghouse sponsored a seminar in Duluth to learn how to teach high-school kids alternatives to joining the military to gaining, money, job security, and travel.
In the summer of 2004, at the School for Christian Mission, I learned that the No Child Left Behind Act included a passage that said high schools would not receive their money if they did not let military recruiters inside the high schools. I knew I didn’t want my child recruited, but I never did anything about it. One of the Quakers mottos is, “They were changed themselves before they tried to change others,” by William Penn
On Saturday, March 12, 2004 I came head-to-head with my beliefs. The phone rang. It was a female recruiter from the army wanted to speak to my daughter. My daughter had turned 17 just three days previously on Wed. March 9. My daughter wasn’t home at the time. My heart raced and blood rushed to my face. I was furious. I knew the recruiters where in the schools. I didn’t know they had access to her name and phone number.
I told the recruited that we were conscientious objectors and I did not want the military contacting my daughter again. The women responded by saying, “Just doing my job, Ma’am.”
“They were changed themselves before they tried to change others,” William Penn
So at age 44 I had to come to terms with something I thought I could avoid because of my gender, I am a conscientious objector. The military wanted my daughter. We are all responsible for ourselves. I cannot control what you do, I cannot control what my child does after the age of 18, but before age 18 I am responsible for her well-being.
I want to know who is courting my daughter, no matter if it is a young man wanting a date, or the United States Army. When recruiters talk to kids (and they are legally still kids under parents guardianship when they are under 18) the recruiters are selling a product. The military appeals to kids who want adventure, money for college, or a way out of a dead-end situation. It also appeals to people’s sense of patriotism.
My next entry will discuss what you, as a parent, can do to keep the recruiters from contacting your child at home.
I am searching for ways to take care of God's planet. Last night I met with a group of church people for a group on "substainablity."
Currently I am trying to consume less, by watching what I buy. Cutting down in the first place is a good way to start, especially if you live with a person who doesn't want to recycle. I have started bring my own cup to almost every event I attend. That way disposable cups are not manufactured in the first place, and resources are not wasted on disposing of it.
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