Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trash World

Brian says that we can recycle the plastic produce bags with the plastic grocery bags. Assuming he is correct, I've been trashing stuff (and including it in my trash videos) that I should have been taking back to the grocery store's recycling program. Better yet, it looks like we can use biodegradable plastics and compost those? Here's more info. I'm a little skeptical. Of course, the first step is to reduce. Eventually, I'd like to switch to reusing durable containers or reusable bags for produce and bulk items.

In related news, my friend Craig who was here for Thanksgiving was surprised to see me throwing out wax paper. Here's a discussion about composting wax paper. If I can use that as a Saran Wrap replacement, that would be a significant reduction in trash for us, as the video here would suggest.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's in a recipe?

The Oreo Cookie Cake tasted good and was easy, albeit time consuming, to make. So, it was a good candidate for the Instant Runoff Voting dessert sampling party. It wasn't until after there was no turning back that I realized how trash/recycling intensive this little project was... The plastic Oreo Cookie packaging and tubs of Cool Whip aside (I was going to make whipped topping from scratch but caved to convenience and followed the recipe), parties - at least what I'm used to - produce a fair amount of trash. Am I supposed to bake my own crackers? Good grief.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Landfill Makover

Throwing out that stuff you can't throw out because you think it might be useful someday even though it's been ten years since you put it in a Ziploc...just in case.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


A friend informs me that I have successfully shamed her and her husband into giving the compost pile another go. Shame has its place, although I didn't set out to inflict it on anyone. In any event, my friends have given me something to say were I ever pressed to earn my keep.

I was lucky. I never had any problems with composting. I read about it. I researched different types of composting bins, but couldn't make a decision. Then one day when Brian noticed that I was collecting egg shells and carrot peelings on the countertop (at one point, bin or no bin, I couldn't bring myself to trash this stuff), he did what he is good at doing and made a decision. For thirty dollars, he came home with a standard-issue county subsidized bin he bought at the Re-use Center. It works great and, most importantly, it let us get started. That's so often the tough part. Starting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon

After a week in Massachusetts visiting Brian’s family, on the trip home I didn’t fret so much about the stream of waste we were leaving behind in the form of Styrofoam dishware and Coke bottles (recycled of course, but made from virgin plastic nonetheless). More unsettling than a deliberate choice to take a callous attitude toward that which I cannot change – being three days on the road will cure anyone of aspirations of zero waste – was facing the remains of our take-out, which per my repeated instructions were sitting on the counter not to be tossed out before I snapped a picture. I didn’t choose to give Mother Nature the finger. I just did it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Road Trip Trash

Paying attention to what you throw away can make for a jarring business-as-usual road trip. Forgetting my trusty mug and resorting to coffee served in throwaways, the single purpose of which is to give me a few minutes of pleasure between rest stops, is a luxury that should only come with a healthy dose of Prozac. But this as well as the single-use Styrofoam plates stacked to the ceiling next to the bagels at the continental breakfast bar do not raise an eyebrow. I am a freak; before it is obvious to the others, get that look off your face and quietly eat your yogurt...6 ounces at a time...Now stop!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Garbage, garbage, garbage...

Sharon, Thanks for the link to Pete Steger's "Garbage" video. It's timely, isn't it?


Mister Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and baked potato
Then he leaves the bone and gristle and he never eats the skins;
The busboy comes and takes it, with a cough contaminates it
And puts it in a can with coffee grinds and sardine tins;
The truck comes by on Friday and carts it all away;
And a thousand trucks just like it are converging on the Bay, oh,

Garbage (garbage, garbage, garbage) Garbage!
We're filling up the sea with garbage (garbage. . .)
What will we do when there's no place left
To put all the garbage? (garbage. . .)

Mr. Thompson starts his Cadillac and winds it down the freeway track
Leaving friends and neighbors in a hydro-carbon haze;
He's joined by lots of smaller cars all sending gases to the stars.
There they form a seething cloud that hangs for thirty days.
And the sun licks down into it with an ultraviolet tongue.
Till it turns to smog and settles down and ends up in our lungs, oh,

Garbage (garbage. . .) Garbage!
We're filling up the sky with garbage (garbage. . .)
What will we do
When there's nothing left to breathe but garbage (garbage. . .)

Getting home and taking off his shoes he settles down with the evening news,
While the kids do homework with the TV in one ear
While Superman for the thousandth time sells talking dolls and conquers crime
Dutifully they learn the date of birth of Paul Revere.
In the paper there's a piece about the mayor's middle name,
And he gets it done in time to watch the all-star bingo game, oh,

Garbage (garbage. . .)
We're filling up our minds with garbage
Garbage (garbage. . .)
What will we do when there's nothing left to read
And there's nothing left to need
And there's nothing left to watch
And there's nothing left to touch
And there's nothing left to walk upon
And there's nothing left to talk upon
Nothing left to see
And there's nothing left to be but
Garbage (garbage. . .)

In Mister Thompson's factory, they're making plastic Christmas trees
Complete with silver tinsel and a geodesic stand
The plastic's mixed in giant vats from some conglomeration
That's been piped from deep within the earth or strip-mined from the land.
And if you question anything, they say, "Why, don't you see?
It's absolutely needed for the economy," oh,

Oh, Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!
There stocks and their bonds -- all garbage!
Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!
What will they do when their system goes to smash
There's no value to their cash
There's no money to be made
But there's a world to be repaid
Their kids will read in history books
About financiers and other crooks
And feudalism, and slavery
And nukes and all their knavery
To history's dustbin they're consigned
Along with many other kinds of garbage.
Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!

Words and Music by Bill Steele; 4th verse by Pete Seeger and Mike Agranoff (1977)
(c) William Steele. Copyright assigned 1992 to the Rainbow Collection, Ltd.

I found the lyrics here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meeting my san man

I didn't catch his name or get the exact details of his military service. I think I heard "special forces," but the rumbling of the truck got in the way. I was surprised to see him lifting our garbage pail by hand. He pointed at his muscles. "It keeps an old man young," he said. Speaking as our san man ever since we moved here about a year and a half ago, he advised us to get a smaller pail to save some money (And, muscles notwithstanding, perhaps to make for easier lifting? It’s a little silly to hoist up a 30 gallon pail just to dispense a couple small bags of cat litter.) "You never have any garbage", he said. Brian didn't want to go that route because the incentive didn't make it worth it, especially since there may be occasions when we'll need the space. "Don't worry about it. I take care of my good customers," my san man told me. He said if we need to put an extra bag out every now and then he wouldn't charge us. He'd let us know if we needed to upsize. I’m reading “Garbage Land” by Elizabeth Royte. It’s a great book and what mainly encouraged me to peek around the corner of the garage to meet the guy who puts my trash out of sight and out of mind every week. Before Royte, there was my Dad who meets the san man every week at the curb to toss his own bags into the truck. He never had the idea that fairies were whisking this stuff away and he made a point of making sure that we never came to that conclusion either.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Late August Trash...

Just a few weeks into the experiment and it appears that Brian is losing patience.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Does your favorite restaurant compost?

I noticed that on the Eureka site, they mention:

Birchwood Café, Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl, Common Roots Café, and the Red Stag Supper Club were the first to start composting in partnership with Eureka Recycling...

This got me thinking. What if we made a point of asking the restaurants we frequent to consider composting?

To Do
  • Draft a sample letter and postcards suggesting that restaurants look into composting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It never hurts to ask...

Dear Dan,

I was wondering if there is any way Eureka could coordinate with the Gimme 5 Campaign ( that is taking #5 plastic, and the Aveda Salon's campaign that is taking hard bottle lids ( It would be nice if Eureka and these campaigns could collaborate to offer curbside pickup for these items. What do you think?

I am very interested in reducing and recycling as much waste in our household as we can. So, I have been taking note of the things that I can't recycle with Eureka and trying to find alternatives, including avoiding items altogether whenever possible. I am documenting my experience here,

Thanks for your help!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

#5 Plastic and Bottle Caps

After reviewing Eureka's website ( I read up elsewhere about what to do with stuff they won't take. I found out that Aveda Salons is taking hard bottle caps (mayo, shampoo lids) and that Whole Foods in Uptown is taking #5 plastic (yogurt containers). I'm glad I have options although I can only hope that the near future will bring a more efficient and user-friendly way of keeping this stuff out of the landfills.

Related Links

To Do
  • Ask Eureka if they would consider taking these items and work out a deal with Aveda and Whole foods that can make use of them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July Trash 2009

To read captions and add comments, click here.

Brushing up...

I'll need to brush up on what can and cannot be recycled. I've been trained to throw out packaging designed for the freezer, yogurt containers, and packaging for beverages. A quick trip to, our curbside recycling service in St. Paul, should set me straight.