My Thanksgiving Day exploits with the turkey made me feel connected to the earth and a respectable part of ecology (see previous posts for details):
My family stuffed a turkey and baked it.
With the bones, I later made a soup broth.
I took the bones and composted them back into the garden.
I remembered stories of the Sioux, who used every part of the Buffalo in one way or another. Or the Inuit with a seal. I felt like I was in harmony with nature in a similar way--taking as little as possible from nature and utilizing it to the fullest. Respecting the natural processes.
Even things we dispose will--in theory--one day decompose back into nature. The problem is that in the meantime we are consuming a lot more than we need to and throwing out a lot. Why buy soup broth or garden fertilizer when I get all that from the "waste" portions of my meals?
If you're keeping track, I ended up: Saving money, consuming less resources, generating less trash. And I also got better nutrition by cooking out the marrow, calcium and other nutrients from the bones.
Landfills may one day be better managed. Right now, the trash we send pretty much stagnates in a compact, zero oxygen environment where decomposition is minimal. Researchers have dug into landfills that are many years old and pulled out intact banana peels and such. The trash is not breaking down, even the items that usually decompose quickly. Advances in waste management will hopefully help us deal with that better. In the meantime, our trash is just sitting in piles. The less we send to landfills, the better.