First of all...it has been FAR too long since I posted anything. 2+ months of no activity is pretty pathetic. Thankfully, few people actually read this, so I can safely say no one was unduly inconvenienced by my absence.
Now, where is "away?" When we throw things "away" where do they go? I've been talking to my (now) 5 year old about this because as a family we recycle a lot of things, but some items DO get thrown "away." So just where is "away?" Sadly, it's not too far. Our landfills, originally designed to allow decomposition of some items from sunlight and rain are now so tightly packed with refuse that decomposition of even paper is nearly impossible. Throw in items like disposable diapers that don't break down, even under ideal conditions, for several HUNDRED years and you have a recipe for overflowing dumps. Even when items like diapers do begin to break down, the chemicals released are so toxic that they leach into the water table and can damage our water system!
"Away," it turns out, is a misnomer. These things we throw "away" just sit. Sometimes forever (or as close to forever as we can comprehend!). Our family is learning to delineate clearly between throwing something IN THE TRASH (something that simply cannot be used again. at all. period.) from something that can be RECYCLED in some way. Even further, we have started trading out our consumable items (paper towels, paper cups, paper plates, paper napkins, plastic diapers etc.) for reusable ones. Is it a perfect system? Heck no! As I've said before...teaching my children to be active and conscious participants in their environments is a marathon not a sprint.