With your hands in the dirt and soil, you also get to see, in a can't-argue-with-the-evidence sort of way, what simply cannot be digested by those same powers, no matter how hard they are working: PLASTICS.
Yes, even the invisible microplastics in that dryer lint. (In this way, Waterloo Waste Whiz is totally right!). PLASTICS will be there, and the natural world "out there" can't really do much with it except move it around. You can see that is true by what the worms show you a month after you've accidentally given them a snack of plastic (say, the J-cloth, or the banana skin with that stupid sticker on it. (I'm holding out for mycoremediation, but that's another post, and it's down the road).
So, friends. There is a choice-juncture available to all of us BEFORE the dryer lint goes-into-the-waste-stream sad story: it's the choice of what fabrics we buy. We all have this choice. So we all have this responsibility. We are all involved, intimately and daily, in this way of being. We are consumers and wearers of clothes and sheets and towels and rags and dish washing thingys.
Do this. Right now. Get up & open the cupboard under the sink, open your linen closet and open your clothes' drawers. Let yourself focus on the materials in what we wear, what we dry ourselves with when we come out of the shower, and what we put on our beds to sleep on. Look at that tag on that T-shirt: Polyester? Acrylic? Look at the tag on those (@#)(&!*) expensive new sheets: Polyester blend. It's a petrochemical. It is durable, and relatively cheap to make. (child labour and externalized environmental costs of production and shipping notwithstanding) No wonder it popped into our closets the world over in the mid-1950's. It's understandable that we have, and do, wear these items. I have them. I wear them (see the tag on that cute little top below! Plastic! No wonder I was sweating my ass off walking home the other day, even in the snowstorm).
Hello hello? This is not the 1950 post-war panicky mid-west "Bigger Better Brighter!" epoch anymore. The globe is in a different moment. We need to see (& maybe we need to feel) the absolutely solid causal connections between these consumer choices of ours and the fact that the hard-working red wriggler compost worms simply cannot make soil out of some of those choices.
That nice fitting fancy bra from La Senza? Lookin' good, sweetheart. But, sad to tell ya: it ain't going nowhere after the party except to the Landfill. Where, it will remain intact, if flattened and grossly filthy for quite a number of years.
Uh-huh. The proof in the pudding (well, the soil) that polyester is not putting any of us on the path to a healthy planet. Yup, you. Yup, me. Yup, here and now.
Now is not too late to redial our choices as consumers. Numero uno: buy less, for goodness sakes. Even just one fewer item a year is one fewer. And, numero duo: whenever you purchase anything that will go on your back or under your butt or on the table for a lovely fancy meal, buy only 100% natural items. When you write your wish list to Santa or the Tooth Fairy, or your birthday or bringing a wedding gift to a new couple...Buy only 100% natural fabrics. Yes, they can be more expensive. Honestly, that's the real cost of ethical production, shipping and sales of things the Earth loves. Plus, they usually last longer.
For our part, we go to Thrift Stores or Consignment stores when we need something, like some new onesie pyjamas for the squirt, or bedsheets that don't have period stains on them. It can take a few trips. We understand. Lots of us don't have time for that sort of scrounging. Or are grossed-out by second hand items. Well, okay, here's a getaround: let "Thrift Store" peeps (like us) know what you need: men's dress pants, grey, size 34 waist, 36 long. Done. A pale blue linen square 4 x4 tablecloth? Done. I always have a list with me when I do my rounds of the Thrift Stores. Numero 3: be quick to pass along the non-plastic non-worn clothes when you are done with them: to friends, or Community Clothes' Closets, or back to the Thrift Stores. Keep these small loops of wool moving in little, local circles.
We can make the change, and make it pretty easily.
We have to.
The worms are telling us the truth.