Are you ready for zero waste? That’s the effort to get us to take cloth tote bags to grocery stores and eliminate the use of plastic bags, to encourage us to recycle, have compost boxes for food waste and use garbage disposals in sinks for food that can’t be composted, such as citrus and meat products. And we’ll sing “So long, Styrofoam. It’s been good to know ya.”

Good luck on that.

That’s not a criticism. It’s an applaudable and admirable program. But you know how people — well, some people — are. We are a waste-happy society.

But Racine is in a dilemma. The landfill it has used for 50 years is near capacity and finding new places for landfill operations in Wisconsin is difficult because Foxconn is buying all available land. OK. I jest.

Getting rid of plastic bags probably is the easiest step. (Oh, oh, I buy garden salad in plastic bags.) Recycling also is simple although now we hear and read stories that recycling centers have problems getting rid of the stuff.

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But compost boxes? I have one, although I no longer have a garden. The black dirt formed at the bottom is good for filling depressions in my yard. And the church I attend has a compost operation, to which parishioners may contribute compostable material. But what about apartment dwellers and condo owners? Can you imagine a condo owner putting a compost box near his/her condo building? The association would tar and feather him/her. Condo associations don’t even want you to put up a flagpole for your Packers flag.

We were close to zero waste when I was a boy on a farm near Lester Prairie, a small town in Minnesota 17 miles south of Waverly. Beer and soda came in returnable bottles. People took groceries home in whatever cardboard box the grocer found to fit the need. Sure, we bought some canned goods; but Mom had a garden the size of North Dakota, so we had fresh vegetables in summer and she canned vegetables, pickles and beets for winter consumption. There were bins in the basement (well, cellar) for potatoes. Carrots were kept down there, too. Cheese came in a wooden box, which eventually was used to hold thingamajigs. Table scraps went to the dog (a no-no today), potato peelings to the chickens, some stuff to the hogs.

As I said, it wasn’t exactly zero waste. There was a hole in the pasture created when my grandfather, uncles and dad dug out gravel for foundations when they built the house and barn. That’s where we threw tin cans and non-returnable bottles such as vanilla, liniment and peppermint schnapps.

Know what? I don’t want to go back to that. I’ll be happy to do my part for zero waste, which means I will have to install a disposal unit. That sound you hear is InSinkErator employees cheering.

You may contact Emmert Dose by writing to him at The Journal Times, 212 Fourth St., Racine, WI 53403 or emailing emandcarol@csofwi.com.

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You may contact Emmert Dose by writing to him at The Journal Times, 212 Fourth St., Racine, WI 53403 or emailing emandcarol@csofwi.com.


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