My black backpack is starting to look green. I have a black nylon backpack I bought in 1994. I carry it every day. It has traveled with me from Paris to Puerto Vallarta. It once had a security sticker from the London Underground Authority, but it wore off a year or two ago. My wife had taped and sewn a tear on the bottom seam, but recently, both zippers stopped zipping. I was in a store the other day, and there was a bright, new, shiny, all-black backpack on sale for only $14.99! I was intrigued, but I didn’t buy it.

My Black Backpack Is Starting to Look Green

I went home, got a needle and thread (after my wife told me three times where they were), and fixed the zippers. Good as new! Granted, some sentimentality is involved, and I have anthropomorphized my backpack, but I have not named it…yet. I didn’t need a new backpack, which made me wonder — what else don’t I need? My wife, Cathi, and I live modestly. We are frugal, but it is not about making do. It’s about appreciating what we have and what is important to us, like family, travel, and my wife’s commitment to helping others.

Buying a New Backpack Would Be Fun!

We are a nation of consumers; I’ve heard it said our true religion is consumerism. Feel down, had a bad day? Well, shoot, just buy something! You will feel so… much… better until you need to buy more. If we consider what we don’t need, we can concentrate our resources on what we need. We can think about what fulfills us, which in turn, gives us meaning. Let me ask, what don’t you need? Oh, and BTW, if we dispose of less, it might help save spaceship Earth as a consequence.

If I Disposed Of The Backpack, How Long Would It Last As Trash?

According to an Education World lesson plan, it takes quite a long time.

  • Banana — 3 to 4 weeks
  • Paper bag — 1 month
  • Cotton rag — 5 months
  • Wool sock — 1 year
  • Cigarette butt — 2 to 5 years
  • Leather boot — 40 to 50 years
  • Rubber sole (of the boot) — 50 to 80 years
  • Tin can (soup or vegetable can) — 80 to 100 years
  • Aluminum can (soda pop can) — 200 to 500 years
  • Plastic 6-pack rings — 450 years
  • Plastic jug — 1 million years
  • Styrofoam cup — unknown? Forever?
  • Glass bottle — unknown? Forever?

What Can Less Trash Mean for the Planet?

100 million tons of flotsam in the North Pacific

135 million tons of fresh trash and garbage a year in U.S. landfills.

300,000 miles of rivers and streams, as well as 5,000,000 acres of lakes, are polluted in the United States.

There are thousands of examples of what our excesses do to the environment, but I think the point has been made. What do you need, and what don’t you need? Please share with me what you are keeping and what you must replace. What is important to you? What is looking green for you?


I wrote this post in 2014, but it’s still a message I wanted to share. I have the backpack, but I retired it to my closet when the zippers finally gave way. I’ve had its replacement for 10 years. It’s black but turning green too.

How Can I Help You?  

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo Matt Seymour Unsplash