A while ago, I asked the wise people at mothering.com in the Decluttering, Organizing & Simplifying sub-forum of the Mindful Home Management forum how in the world they get rid of kitty litter waste without using plastic bags. I know we shouldn't use them, and now that I'm not shopping very much at all, my supply has really dwindled. Whole Foods has recently pledged to phase them out soon. People know that plastic is no good. We all know that--it stays around for several years, or more, does it have a half-life of hundreds of years? I don't know, I just know that plastic is terrible, unless it's being used for removing kitty litter clumps or being formed into Playmobile characters. Playmobile rocks.
Some of the people (men are certainly welcome at mothering.com--it's a great resource for everyone really) suggested I use a flushable kitty litter or a wheat based one or a newspaper based one or pine or something that is already more environmentally friendly in the first place. But, none of those choices will work for me with a 23 year old cat who hits the litter box only 80% of the time already. A radical change in her litter box niche would upset the ecological balance to the extent that I think her hit rate would drop to maybe 25% at the most. That's not good, but she has all of my sympathy and when I am the comparable age of 104 years old, I get to pee wherever and however I bloody well feel like. Nobody better have a problem with that either. Heads up, progeny.
Many people countered the flushing suggestion with the reminder that if you live on the west coast, sea otters are dying from toxoplasmosis found in sewage. Cats are the carriers of toxoplasmosis and periodically shed it in their feces. So DON'T flush away your kitty litter waste.
What to do?
Enter the bag that was once used for something else...
Behold the sprouted wheat bread bag from Trader Joe's!! Look at that plastic bread bag that could be used as a bag for something else!
I NEVER thought of that. I'm sure I'm dense and others of you HAVE thought of this. I think it is just brilliant that what I have always thought of as merely garbage is actually a supply of plastic bags that can be used over and over again.
Look at it. It's just ready to carry clumps of used kitty litter to the garbage can. Or maybe it wants to hold your lunch, which you should make for yourself any way as it's healthier than eating at some fast food joint, and can easily accommodate a grass-fed beef sandwich (not conventionally raised) and an organic apple--that sounds good...
Maybe you're going to go to a homeschooling conference somewhere. Maybe there will be a pool. I bet you could stuff a wet swimming suit in that bag before putting it in your suitcase for the long ride home. Couldn't you?
You could use all sorts of bread bags. You could use tortilla bags. You could use the plastic bags that your newspaper comes in. Or, you could use a bag from the phone directory that gets thrown in your driveway. This is a huge, for me, heretofore untapped resource. Which concerns me greatly because I bet there are all sorts of simple, easily changed things in my life that I could be doing for the betterment of my own family and the earth. How do I not know this easy, basic stuff?? When you know, you do, but how do I not know?
Enlighten me please. What else could I be doing, that maybe I'm not? Go ahead. Rattle off a few things that we all could do that would cumulatively end up making a big difference. I'll start, because I have ideas too, even if I DIDN'T know about the whole bread bag thing.
- Don't buy anything new. Ha!
- Where you can, take public transportation. Where you can't, try and bicycle as much as possible. Carpool as much as possible.
- Eat organic. Buy organic. Support local farmers.
- This a small one, but if EVERYBODY did it, it would make a difference. Use cloth to wrap gifts instead of wrapping paper or even reusable gift bags. There's a big push for this in Japan, and there are many beautiful and easy ways you can use cloth to wrap things.