CITO: The Plastic Bag Conundrum

This weekend, our family participated in a CITO event, which is basically a “clean up the Earth” party, or a “trash bash”.  We also plan to attend a few more of these in the upcoming weeks, and also are planning one for the Cub Scout Den we are working with.  This was my ninth time to participate in a CITO event (short for “Cache In-Trash Out), but this is the first time I really got to thinking about how “earth friendly” it really is.

To get the “smiley” for the event, we show up and get our trash bag.  We put on some gloves and carry around a trash bag and put trash in it, and then throw it away in the dumpster and feel all good about ourselves afterwards.  At the last CITO we were at, and probably quite a few of the ones previous, people were walking around with mostly empty trash bags and then disposing of them within a short time period without filling them up.  It seems a little ironic.

What happens after that?  The trash gets taken to a landfill, and then it takes the plastic bag the trash is in about 400 to 1000 years to break down into the environment, if it ever actually does at all. We also need to think about what we are adding to our landfills.  Even though more is being recycled than ever before, our waste has been tripling due to packaging used for the goods we buy.

I propose that at future CITOs, we use paper bags or biodegradable bags.  This will better serve our intentions of being good to the Earth by removing some of the junk on it, without adding to the problem.

2 thoughts on “CITO: The Plastic Bag Conundrum”

  1. Agreed. I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe collection bags (like the ones you buy at grocery stores to avoid the disposable bags) and dump them in central bags or dumpsters…. but that would take logistical coordination to get everything back. I suppose you could wash the bags, but I’m not sure I would want to reuse a “trash” bag as a grocery bag again.

    Plastic paper shredder bags bug me also. All that perfectly recyclable paper that gets shredded and bypasses the recycling process just kills me. I buy large biodegradable bags and dump the shredder bin into the bag and take the bag to the recycling center when it’s full. It’s messy and expensive and a PIA, but better than filling the landfills with shredded paper.

  2. Reading this actually reminds me of a recent event. I was driving through west university with my sister and the Prius in front of us had a catchy bumper sticker that said “my compost brings all the flowers to the yard,” and just as I told my sister it reminded me of the song “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” the person in front of us flicked out a cigarette onto the ground!
    Needless to say, there’s always that fine line…

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