Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

Cat Nap 2

Michelle at Rambling Woods posted a Photo Hunt entry on plastic this week pointing out that 500 billion plastic bags are used annually worldwide and describing the damage they do. I have been uneasy for a while now about how many of them come into our household from shopping. And I must confess that while I reuse many of them and drop some off back at the stores' recycling bins, far too many end up in the garbage.

Plus, there's this: kitty poop.

I've always scooped the used litter into a plastic grocery bag and put it into the garbage. In the city, that made perfect sense to me. Out here, I've started rethinking the situation. I've been prowling around the Web looking for solutions, but haven't found any that work.

There is flushable litter, but it is bad for your plumbing. Stopped up toilets, I don't need.

Tossing it into the woods seemed at once logical and wrong. After all, you gotta figure about half the "earth" out there is some kind of poop or other. But cats are not native, the scent of their waste stresses prey animals, and the clay litter I use is mixed with chemicals that control odor. (I'm sorry, but that's not going to change.) Plus, per the Web, dumping cat litter outside can introduce toxoplasmosis into the environment, which can get into the water supply. Living in a wetland area and drinking from a well, that's not a good thing either.

"Solutions" I've seen online generally involve exotic and/or expensive paraphernalia. There are biodegradable poop bags imported from Norway. Surely the oil involved in transporting those negates any benefits. For about a hundred dollars, you can buy a worm farm that will decompose pet waste for you. Ouch and eww.

The best suggestion I've seen so far is the simplest: Wrap the waste in newspaper instead of plastic and send it to the landfill. Of course, that's newspaper that won't be going into the recycling bin, but I don't see a better alternative.

Any ideas?


Rambling Woods said...

I have been thinking about this one too. I use Sweet Scoop which is wheat and you can flush it, but it probably isn't a good idea. I too have been using the plastic bags that come into the house to put the waste in...But we won't be having any more of them. So I was considering somehow composting it as it is wheat and the cats are indoor cats...I haven't solved this one yet. It is complicated trying to be more green...
Michelle From Rambling Woods

MyMaracas said...

Michelle, I'm still working on this one too. The newspaper wrap thing is more of a pain than anticipated.


~ Lor said...

I'm right there with you on this one. The newspaper is an interesting idea, but then I'd have to subscribe and probably wouldn't read it, lol. So I guess I'm stuck recycling my plastic bags from the store for now...If I find something, I'll let you know!

MyMaracas said...

Thanks, Lor! Actually, the paper thing isn't working out very well. They come open in the trash can. Unless I can figure out some kind of origami solution, I'm afraid it's back to the bags for me, too.

Sallyacious said...

What about paper bags? Like lunch bags. That's what my husband and I did when we didn't have to schlep them out to the alley. Though that's buying a new product, not recycling anything.

Now, we shamefully flush. Shamefully because I've heard that you shouldn't because the wastewater treatment systems don't get rid of all the pathogens in cat litter. But I'm not putting it in the kitchen garbage, and I'm not walking through two feet of snow every time the cats use the box. And I just clean the cat litter every time I use the bathroom, so it's water that would be going down the drain anyway.

Can you wrap the newspaper so that the very last bit gets tucked into another part of the wrap? Like a burrito? I don't know if it's possible, I'm just asking.

MyMaracas said...

Sally, you're a genius! Paper lunch bags. I'll bet I can find some made of recycled paper, too. Great idea!