Trash Talk

As Peter and I packed recently to go home from a winter vacation in Florida, we realized we had a big problem – too much stuff!

We went a little overboard with the shopping. To be honest, I went a little overboard. Peter stuck to the essentials: socks and t-shirts. But I couldn’t resist the adorable golf tops and capris, and the cute sandals. I think that’s all, except for the beach bag… and the sweater. And did I mention the water shoes? You see the problem. We needed to sit on the suitcases to get them closed.

One thing we would have loved to bring home was recycling stuff. Although Florida has great weather, it does not have a great recycling program. In fact it has NO recycling program. At our resort there was one gigantic bin; the kind rented from Got Junk? for home renovations. And everything went into it: compost, glass jars, cardboard boxes, newspapers, plastic bottles, as well as all the other things that, in Canada, we would call garbage. It broke our hearts to casually toss wine bottles and kleenex boxes, knowing that they could easily be re-cycled or turned into another form of useful material. What a waste!

At home we really try, Besides following the recycling guidelines, Peter composts everything he can. He puts egg shells, coffee grinds, even the water from cooking pasta, into the compost bins. He says his compost worms are the happiest in the neighbourhood. We use a Soda Stream machine to produce our own soda water, we wash clothes with True Earth laundry strips, we have re-usable shopping bags in the car at all times. Meanwhile in Florida, plastic shopping bags are handed out like free advertising. During our vacation we kept them to use whenever we could, but at last count we had been given 53 of them in just 4 weeks.

We had time for counting plastic bags because we were unable to walk on the beach. Red Tide had taken over. What exactly is Red Tide? It’s an overgrowth of toxic algae which produces red blooms. The blooms give off fumes which cause eye, lung, and skin irritation in humans, and death to thousands of fish. Both the seriously-irritating Red Tide and the foul-smelling dead fish send tourists fleeing in droves.

What causes Red Tide? Unnatural weather systems, aka Climate Change – duh. And Another climate change disaster is floating towards Florida at a reckless pace. This one, a massive seaweed blob, the Sargassum Seaweed Belt, is expected to arrive in the Gulf Coast in early summer. It will deter tourists too, and it will be much harder to deal with. Scientists have already determined that the blob, 5,000 miles wide, can’t be used as fertilizer because it contains a poison – hydrogen sulfide. Nor can it be burned as waste because, once again, there are toxic fumes. So what to do with it? That is a whole lot of extra stuff to add to those already-full trash bins.

And that brings me back to our over-filled suitcases. Did I really need to buy all that stuff? Can I be sanctimonious about Florida’s lack of interest in recycling protocols, (which translates into climate change) when I am doing something similar? Except that, instead of throwing out bottles and bags, I will be throwing out slightly used clothes. Settling back into our lives in Toronto, I will need to reassess as I trade one outdated pair of capris for another newer, more stylish pair.

At the very least, I need to find a better place for them than the garbage bin.


9 thoughts on “Trash Talk

  1. I am in tears. I am in tears more often these days than ever in my whole life. Humanity is living an altered reality not of the transcendental kind. There is an apocalyptic amount of greed and entitlement all around the world. Me, me, me. No one is talking about overpopulation. Education is not aiming at what matters, only at how the Mighty Me can get ahead in life. Money is only sprinkled at causes to rescue Nature from us. I’ll keep my hanky nearby.


  2. The Salvation Army, Goodwill and the Kidney Foundation are some of the places where you can recycle your capris. Part of the fun of travelling is shopping and I’ve noticed that the golfers who go south seem to have the coolest outfits. So don’t feel bad about buying stuff. There are less fortunate people who will be delighted to get your old clothes while you strut your new outfits.


  3. Hi Sue
    And welcome home!
    Florida sounds as I remember it. No concern or very little for the environment
    You might give a thought to us gents when you throw about terms like capris. I thought a Mediterranean isle. By my dear Elizabeth knew. A far better resource than your average internet search engine. Now she is wondering if I am considering cross-dressing!


  4. Wow, very disappointing regarding the lack of recycling options, but I know they do some basic recycling at other locations in Florida, but a shame it isn’t a requirement. BTW did you know you can recycle plastic bags and other soft plastics? In Markham you have to take them to a recycling facility, the same way you would batteries and styrofoam, but that is what we do in our house.

    I actually hadn’t heard of the seaweed blob, that’s a giant mess to deal with!

    Thanks for highlighting these Mom!


  5. Salvation Army or Goodwill will take almost anything at their drop-offs. Then they organize it and resell it in their in their attached stores. They’ve never refused to take anything I’ve offered. Sure eases those feeling of guilt!


  6. Dear Sue, again a very good- but very sad – article. I love to put it on my fb page (let me know if I can do that), so that my fellow American friends can read it. I’m fortunate that most of my friends here are very much into recycling, but there are many places (like the one in Florida) that do not give that opportunity to the people. Many condominiums around us (in Cincinnati) do not provide the recycling opportunity. They only provide trash bins. As Dorita has mentioned it is all about money. So sad. The gain today is more important than the future of our children.


  7. We rarely find a US resort, in any state, with a recycling program like our home one. On the other hand, there are opinions out there that say we Ontarians can feel good about our programs but in actual fact, much if not most of the stuff we put out for recycling goes to landfill. As for shopping for clothes – maybe it comes with being an octogenarian but – I no longer enjoy it. I also don’t care if my clothes are no longer stylish, for the most part. What I do enjoy, when I need to get out of my house clothes, is going to the closet or trunk and finding something to makeover. I’ve never forgotten the scene from “Gone With the Wind” where Scarlett wears an outfit made from velvet curtains! That’s what happens in a war zone and we must recognize that we are destroying the earth with our current lifestyles. Radical change is needed – not tinkering.


  8. Gosh Sue that’s so sad about the state of Florida’s beaches with the red tide.  I have been reading about it.  It is going to certainly have a huge impact up


  9. Not all communities are the same. Our park in Dunedin has a weekly recycling collection. You can also recycle egg cartons and plastic bags at grocery stores. We bring our reusable grocery bags from Canada which eliminates much of the problem.


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