Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trashed, Part One


The state of my garden soil, when I first got it.

As blog readers have probably figured, Robb and I both care about the environment. If you pay attention, even a little bit, it is hard not to.

Every time we drove to his parents' home, we passed the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. Until it closed, this was the world's largest garbage dump, absorbing six hundred and fifty tons of garbage every single day.

We try to buy products with as little packaging as possible (I drink -- gasp -- tap water, instead of buying bottled water, which is often -- duh -- tap water in petroleum-based water bottles.) Like a total crazy woman, I drag my kitchen scraps in to work, where I compost them in my tiny urban garden. I have my co-workers collecting composting, too. We try to do our little part.

Part-way through the trash-removal process.

The garden, itself, is a project in reclamation. When my landlord gave me access to the space, it was filled with trash, wheelbarrows, water heaters, and gallons upon gallons of who-knows-what leaking out of rusting steel cans. I cleared the trash out, my landlord had it hauled away. I re-purposed the wheelbarrows into planters, which have attracted all sorts of interesting critters.

A green bee visits a wildflower, growing in the wheelbarrow planters.

Likewise, it drives us insane to see how much crap is dumped in the San Francisco Bay. As if the mercury residue from the 1849 Gold Rush that is still working its way into the bay aren't bad enough (really!), there are any number of rotting shipwrecks under the sea, but these ships aren't about to disgorge dubloons or pieces of eight. Any time now their fuel tanks are about to rust through, leaking poisons into our environment.

The sad state of wildlife in parts of the San Francisco Bay.

I try to pick up trash when I'm out and about, and I participate in organized clean-up events. I drag friends and house-guests along on these outings. (Thanks ladies!)

2008 Coastal Cleanup.
We're picking up shards of trash that might otherwise end up inside an animal's stomach.

I just wish that people would take more responsibility for the trash they produce. Robb is always picking non-recyclables out of our apartment's recycling bins. Unopened bottles of expired cooking oil? Yeah, that's not recyclable.

So, blog readers, what are you doing to reduce the trashiness of our planet?


Kaaren said...

We use reusable canvas grocery bags now. And sometimes, I'll say "no bag please" if it's just one item I am buying.

A three-pack of paper towels now lasts us about 4-6 months, because instead we use kitchen towels to clean up spills and dry our hands. We have about 25-30 that we throw in at random intervals into the regular wash.

We recycle. (I even wash everything and peel the labels, cause I'm weird. Like they care at the recycling station).

I reuse plastic baggies. I know, weird too. But those things can be washed out and reused, I swear. (Something David's mom does that I thought was a great idea.)

We just came from a LB event. I brought our reusable plastic plates, reusable cups, our own kitchen forks, knives and spoons. Then we bring them home, wash them and put them away.

It's all I can think of for now.

Anonymous said...

Well like you, i participate in the coastal cleanup and pick garbage up whenever I can. WHen I went to the beach today I picked up 1 water bottle, 1 food storage container, pieces of styrofoam, and a gun shell (I think). Other than that, normal things, compost, recycle, reuse baggies, and shop at a farmer's market.
-winged gypsy

Ladyaero said...

Ways we're trying...

I have my string bags for shopping.

I have almost completely eliminated the use of plastic baggies in my and my son's lunches (lots of reusable containers).

We all have thermoses that we use instead of water bottles.

I have a bowl, spoon and cup that I keep in my desk drawer to avoid the paper/plastic throw aways when I eat breakfast at work.

I try really, really hard, to keep it between 60 and 65 on the freeway (I have a '96 Toyota Corolla and this has pushed my average mileage from 30 mpg to ~31.5 mpg...doesn't sound like much, but it's a 5% improvement on an already decent number.

My 12 year old car has 130000 miles on it and (though sometimes sorely tempted to want a car with more room) we plan on keeping it at least another 8 years, at which point my now-almost 8 year old son says it will be his first car.

Recycle everything I can.

Started a compost pile this fall. We just put the first batch of "homemade dirt" in to our garden.

I grow veggies in our side yard during the spring/summer (need to work on a fall/winter crop rotation).

Organized a "Going Green" auction basket for my son's class' contribution to the school silent auction, which led the class to study ways they can help the environment.

Always "leave it cleaner than you found it" when out at parks, beaches, camping, etc.

I still use WAY too many paper towels, though...

Syndee said...

I've switched over to the canvas grocery bags too. We recycle our plastics and cans in our household, but I and my students have noticed that our schools are so overly wasteful, it's a sin.
The kids decided to do something about it. Our peer leaders group began a drive to collect the caps from plastic bottles because we found out these caps do not get recycled along with the bottle! The local Estee Lauder plant uses them to create cases for their makeup products, so that's where our collection will go. Our student government is contacting our local and town officials to find out how to start a recycling effort in the school. Right now, we don't separate papers, plastics and cans from regular waste! Unbelieveable to me in this day and age. We don't have the correct bins inside the school, nor do we have the correct pick-up containers outside the school. The kids are in the process of finding out who is responsible for providing such containers. My co-advisor and I are hopeful that America's future relies in such caring 7-11 year-old hands.


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