Friday, February 27, 2009

Product Review: Biobag

As mentioned in a previous entry, I bought a box of Biobag kitchen trashbags and I'm writing now of my results.

Biobag are trash bags made from the biodegradable material Mater-Bi. (I have no idea what Mater-Bi is, nor does the website explain this mystery material) The website claims the bags biodegrade within 2 weeks if placed in an open landfill, but will take longer to decompose in those landfills that use an anaerobic method of handling their waste.

As a side note, landfill companies use a variety of techniques in managing garbage. A common method is placing a plastic liner under the landfill site to slow wastes leaching into the soil and underlying river systems or aquafiers that would otherwise pollute the water. However the EPA has stated this method of waste management will "ultimately fail"while the landfill site remains a threat for "thousands of years". In other words, the liners only delay, not prevent, the leaching of pollution into our water systems. Another waste management technique currently under study are Bioreactor Landfills. According to the Waste Management website, A Bioreactor landfill is a waste treatment landfill with technology that accelerates the decomposition of organic wastes in a landfill. This is accomplished by controlling the addition and removal of moisture from the waste mass, the collection and extraction of landfill gas, and in some instances the addition of air.

But I'm getting off track. For the last week or so, I put the Biobags to use. The website claims the bags to be sturdy, but I found them flimsy and ripped at least two unused bags in the process of tearing a new trashbag off the roll. Biobag claimed their kitchen trashbags to be strong enough to hold paper, food and other biodegradable waste items in addition to outdoor waste. I had no complaints about the durability of the bags in the kitchen, though I would be reluctant to place heavy duty trash inside the bags. The bags ripped like tissue when filled with an estimated 5-10 pounds of used cat litter. But the website did not claim their bags would withstand the rigors of cat poo. In my opinion, the Biobags are best for those people who are on the light side of trash, those people who throw away more wrappers and non-recyclable paper products than say those who do not necessarily recycle all their products and tend to fill their garbage bags until they can't lift it out of the trashcan.

I think Biobag is a pioneer product for trashbags and hope advances in technology and experimentation will allow the company to improve their product and encourage other companies to create their own version of biodegradable bags. But honestly, I will not buy another box of these trashbags. It pains me to state that fact, but the bags are expensive and using multiple bags for one job defeats the purpose of the product.

I would like to try a few of the Seventh Generation products, beginning with the trash bags, paper towels and laundry detergent. Their items are a bit pricey but I'm hopeful, because the products are beginning to leak into the mainstream retail world.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Viva la Vida

I love Coldplay and have all of their cds. When Viva la Vida came out, I bought it without listening to any of the songs and I was not disappointed. In fact, I think this is the best of their work to date.

Since Viva La Vida has been nominated for Record, Album and Song of the year, I thought I would put my 2 cents in on some of the music on the album.

The album cover is the 1830 painting Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix. The painting depicts the French Revolution of 1830 and lends itself to the overall tone of the album. A great deal of the music on this album focuses on death, religion and war. Dreary subjects indeed, but some of these songs take on an almost cheery quality.

My absolute favorite song on the entire album is Cemeteries of London. Cemeteries blends death, the afterlife, history and spirituality into a song with an almost ethereal tone.

At night they would go walking ‘til the breaking of the day...
Through the dark streets they go searching to seek God in their own way...
God is in the houses and God is in my head… and all the cemeteries in London…
I see God come in my garden, but I don’t know what he said,
For my heart, it wasn’t open…
Not open…

Viva la Vida is the song up for all the grammies and is catchy, yet melancholy tune. The song is about a king who has lost his kingdom and there are historical references and religious undertones as well.

Hear Jerusalem bells are ringings
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Viva la Vida hit the number one charts in the US and the UK and Coldplay's only Trans-atlantic number one hit. The album also topped the global sales list and has been named the biggest selling album of 2008.

Violet Hill is yet another song on religion and war, but throws love into the mix. Strawberry Swing has been said to have Beetles overtones. The song is bit Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds-ish, but other than that,I do not see the similarities. However I will let you judge that for yourself.

Coldplay does sing the usual songs about love and heart break but they are not afraid to tread on the topics of spirituality, self awareness and man's affect on the environment. These are topics near and dear to my heart. Perhaps that is why I love their music.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Girls rule! Boys drool! (My weekend at work)

It was a weekend of scouts for me at work. As some of you may know, I wrote up a lesson plan for Webelos and Junior Girl Scouts and we've been running the program free of charge to those troops who agreed to be our guinea pig.

Saturday morning I had a group of boys who were surprisingly calm...and bored. I was off my game and had a difficult time holding the boys' interest. I hate the experience of trying to capture and maintain the waning interest of kids. I always feel like I'm a magician holding an empty bag of tricks and I'm digging around in that bag, looking for something, anything to recapture their lost interest. I was hoping the arthropods, who were the stars of the show, would be able to revive the lagging enthusiasm. I wanted to show off our beautiful praying mantis but she was forced to remain within the confines of her container after half the boys freaked out when I pulled out a millipede, the first star, to show around the room. Sigh.

After that disaster of a program, I left the classroom open for the public to wander in. A group of special needs girls came in and I recognized them from a previous visit. They were just what I needed to restore my faith in my own teaching abilities. Each girl held the millipede and oohed and ahhed over my other arthropod stars. We chatted away as they examined the bugs and the books in the classroom. Of course, just as with any other kids, they had to tell me their bug stories...

"This one time I squished a bug and her eggs came out..."

"Once I chased my brother around with a worm..."

One of the girls was flipping through a book that focused on the different cultures that ate bugs (Entomophagy) and from her squeals of disgust, the others had to see the book too.

"Ohhh look at that! What are those? Worms? Who would eat worms?"

"Is that a spider in his mouth?"

"I would eat fried chicken every day of the week over eating some dead bug."

I love these girls. I hope they come in again soon.

Sunday afternoon I had a rather large girl scout group but they were awesome. They were an active, chatty group, but it was relatively easy to redirect their attention to the subject at hand. They came in knowing key definitions and concepts and it was easy to prompt and maintain appropriate discussions, with a little extra from the girls thrown in. This one was the most memorable.

"Once there was a praying mantis in my closet!"


There is one more guinea pig scout group next weekend then we go into full time mode with it. I will have my own scout schedule. I hope I'm ready.