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.