Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I am 8 years old, and I love science. I am writing you because when I go to the doughnut shop, they always give me paper bags when I order my doughnut to eat there. I also notice other people getting bags they don't need because they are eating their doughnuts there, too.

How many trees have to die for no reason?

I care about recycling and how long it takes for things to break down in the earth. What can I do so the doughnut shop will stop wasting bags?

— MANDI IN SCARSDALE, N.Y.

DEAR MANDI: I respect the fact that you are conscientious about how your actions — and the actions of the people around you — affect the environment. You are a sharp young lady.

What you should do is speak to the manager of the doughnut shop. Tell him or her that these days a strong selling point in many businesses is that they are "going green." In the case of the doughnut shop, it would cost them less and even gain them more customers if they would stop handing out bags to customers who are eating their doughnuts on the premises and tell them why. (A piece of waxed paper would suffice and create less waste.)

Readers, if you are interested in how long it takes the items we toss into our landfills to decompose, I found the following illuminating. Read on:

Paper ............... 2 to 5 months

Orange peels .......... 6 months

Milk cartons ............ 5 years

Filter-tip cigarettes ... 10 to 12 years

Plastic bags ..........10 to 20 years

Leather shoes ....... 24 to 40 years

Plastic containers .... 50 to 80 years

Disposable diapers ...... 75 years

Tin cans ................ 100 years

Aluminum cans ........... 200 to 500 years

Styrofoam ............... Never

DEAR ABBY: I'm having a problem with my next door neighbors. We just purchased a wonderful historical home located in an awesome neighborhood. My problem is, after we moved in, we realized that these people are exhibitionists. They have no window coverings in their home, which has large windows on all sides. At night you can see all the way through to the other side.

Our home has no back door, so when we need to let our dog out, we must walk along the driveway. We refer to it as "walking the gauntlet." This couple eats their breakfast at a table next to the side window dressed only in their night clothes. At 7 a.m., I am in my robe. Should I wave or hang my head in shame?

I know I should have checked the neighbors out before we bought. I come from a rural area, but still, I had blinds. Flaunting my nightwear or my husband's is kind of personal. Please advise.

— PUT OFF IN TEXAS

DEAR PUT OFF: There is nothing shameful or exhibitionistic about wearing one's pajamas to the breakfast table. If the sight of your neighbors' nightwear embarrasses you, plant a lovely, lush, fast-growing hedge between your driveway and their kitchen.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.