Saturday, January 12, 2008

A bit of silence I'm afraid

Due to a previously scheduled professional commitment, I don't think that I will have much (if any) time to post at all in the coming week. However, I will be keeping my usual log of trash and if I can I will post as the week progresses, but if not, will have a fair amount of typing( and picture snapping) to do to catch me up next weekend.

Thanks for your understanding and I'll try to be in touch this week if I can.



LA Area Sustainable Living Workshop

A great opportunity to learn sustainable living practices if you live in or near Santa Monica, Ca.


The first 2 Sustainable Works Green Living Workshops of 2008 start next week-

Wednesday nights 7-8:30pm
starting January 16th
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Thursday nights 7-8:30pm
starting January 17th
402 Santa Monica Blvd.

Classes are filling fast this week- so please let me know as soon as possible if you would like for us to hold a spot for you in one of the 2 workshop nights.

Please feel free to invite any friends or family,
it is always more fun to take the workshop with a "classmate".

Hope to see you at a Green Living Workshop soon,

Barent Roth
Sustainable Works
Residential Program Coordinator
310 458 8716 x1
1744 Pearl St.
Santa Monica, CA


Friday, January 11, 2008

Los Angeles Vegan Feast

Make your reservations now for an exclusive four-course gourmet vegan experience at 2nd Street Jazz in Downtown Los Angeles. Guest Chef Tal Ronnen will bring contemporary vegan cuisine to 2nd Street Jazz on the third Sunday of every month featuring a pre-fix menu that includes optional wine pairings with each course and the best local live Jazz.

Menu for Sunday the 20th

Crispy “Carne” Ravioli with Habanero Mango Hollandaise and Pineapple Salsa

Quinoa, Avocado and Sweet Potato Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

Blackened Portobello Fillets, Smoked Black Beans and Slow Cooked Collard Greens

Sweet Corn Cakes

Please make your reservations at http://cart.2ndstjazz.com/


Naples is drowning in trash

Check out this story from NPR I heard on the radio today. Naples has had no garbage collection since the end of December, less than one month, and they are in serious trouble. While there seem to be politics behind the reasons for why the garbage isn't being picked up, just imagine what would happen in your town if the trucks stopped coming. Seems to me that if there was less packaging, less waste, and more worms, they'd be a lot better off than they are right now.



Foxy Frocks Dresses!

A little shameless plug here but for a really great homegrown enterprise that fits in nicely with the general concept of re-purposing, and then does it one better.

My friend Shannon, her sister, and her Mom started a dressmaking business a while back called Foxy Frocks. They hand make (themselves mind you) awesome little one of a kind dresses for little girls. And if that isn't cool enough, they make them out of remnant cloth from the garment district in downtown LA, so they are essentially using stuff that would be discarded anyway. Very cool (and great dresses to boot).

If you check out the site, you may notice that the dresses are slightly more expensive than you can get at a place like the GAP, but I think what you need to ask yourself is are these too expensive, or are those prices too low. I think you'll find the latter as these dresses are worth it and then some, and the fact that they are one of a kind, only adds to their value.

Here's what Shannon has to say about them:

"We see dressmaking as an art form, something that should be done with care and not in a sweatshop! We use a minimal amount of materials in crafting each dress and we buy our fabric in the Garment District here in Los Angeles, the same city where we make our dresses. Whenever possible, we try to purchase the bolt end pieces of fabric...aka the "scraps" - tiny pieces that usually end up in the trash! We make something beautiful from leftovers, what better way to care for the planet! We also use recyclable packing - feel free to request less packaging and we'll be happy to ship your frock in a recycled bubble wrap packet. Every frock is a handmade, one-of-a-kind little treasure. We try to keep our prices low so that our frocks can be available to everyone. Our goal is not to become rich, it's to celebrate the art of dressmaking, and to inspire others to create their own individual works of art."

Foxy Frocks - check it out.



Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 10 - My daughters

You have to love kids. 

Yesterday my older daughter came home from school and ran in to show me a beat up graham cracker box and the waxy sleeve from the inside, holding it aloft like it was an Olympic Gold Medal.

"What's that" I asked her concerned that maybe garbage holding was in her genes.

"I asked my teacher for this before she threw it out since I know you are recycling everything and not throwing it away" she replied, glowing that she had become a helper in my wacky endeavor.  

I didn't have the heart to explain to her that I was only accounting for my waste and not her classes, so I hugged her and we put it in the box for that days haul. It was really cute.

Today, as I picked up my younger daughter, she sat down and opened her lunch box to see what she had missed, a ritual she highly enjoys each day, as do I since sometimes I get good scraps. Turns out today she was on a mission - she pulled out a little tupperware that she had lovingly filled with her odds and ends and sandwich crusts.

"Look" she squealed with delight "for the worms".

We came home and went down to the basement to feed and "play with" the worms, a scene that I highly doubt played out in any other household on our block.

We're a wacky bunch over here, but ya gotta love it right?


Day 10 1/10/08

Todays Haul:

  • 10 misc pieces of paper/receipts - worms
  • 1 plastic OJ bottle HDPE #2 w/cap - recycle pile
  • 1 plastic milk jug HDPE #2 w/cap - recycle pile
  • 2 band-aid wrappers and 4 little plastic tabs from band-aid - garbage pile
  • 1 ball of blue paper tape from painting - garbage
  • 2 plastic wrappers from freeze dried fish - (possibly) recycling pile
  • 1 glass salad dressing bottle w/cap - recycling pile
  • 1 cardboard food box - recycling
  • 1 waxy box liner - garbage
  • 3 incandescent chandelier bulbs - E recycle pile (oooh a new pile)
  • 1 small sticker off an apple (do we really need these?) - garbage


Cut Down On Your Bulb Waste and Go CFL

Most people think of CFLs as energy savers, which they are, but they also cut down on waste due to needing to replace them less often. I wrote up a piece on Achieving Sustainability that I thought some might find worthwhile.



Composter info update

Just wanted to apologize that i haven't gotten any info up on the composter yet. I was in the process of writing something up and then decided that I wanted to add some video along with it to make it even better, so please bear with me as that is all forthecoming.



What Are They Waiting For?

I know this doesn't tie directly into the waste issue, but I think it's all interconnected and I assume that anyone interested in this issue is also interested in telling our nations journalists that they MUST ask politicians the tough questions about Global Warming. If I'm wrong than please check it out anyway. This is simply too big of an issue to ignore.



Coffee Problem Solved

If you're like me, you can't really do too much without a good cup of Joe in the AM. We make our own coffee here at home and I always use a re-useable travel mug, but what has been bugging me since the beginning of this project (and why you haven't seen so many coffee ground listings in "the haul") are those crazy plasticoated bags they come in that are not recyclable and have limited re-use potential.

So this morning, I headed over to Whole Foods and had a really interesting talk with Richard, the guy who's in charge of the coffee area there (and incidentally it's his first day at that, after being promoted so way to go Richard). I explained to him what I was up to and told him I wanted to figure out a way to be able to come to Whole Foods and buy coffee without wasting a bag each time. I asked him if I could just bring in my own container to fill, but he mentioned that when they weigh it up front, the weight of the bag is already calculated in. While I might not mind paying the extra charge for this I'd have to probably explain everything again each time I bought coffee and don't really want to go that route time and again.

So what we ended on was this. Next time I head there I am going to buy my coffee in one of those sturdy little coffee bags that I hate so much, filling it up from the bulk coffee bins (they have fair trade shade grown so it's pretty good stuff). I'll bring that home, pour it into our coffee bean mason jar, and fold up the bag until next time I need a fill-up. Ironically, the thing that makes these bags such a nuisance, the way they are sturdily built and therefore not recyclable, is going to be an asset because I really don't see why I can't get through the year (and then some) on one bag.

At home we have a little grinder and french press manual coffee maker, so that's all relatively waste free, and the grounds can go in the worm composter, the garden, the lawn, or a number of other places. If anyone has any other thoughts, I'm game.

I'm psyched (and amped on coffee).



Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Day 9 - Workman at the house

Today was a kind of cool day as I had a friend of a friend come over to see if he could fix our front door, which is way heavy and has been sagging over time. His name is Fred and he turned out to be a real craftsmen so it was fun seeing what he was doing. Having said that, I was a bit fearful  about all of the trash that might be created during the course of the project. So I took a deep breath and explained what I was up to.

I say I took a deep breath not because I was nervous about telling him what I was doing, but because when you've got a guy helping you out on an hourly rate who you really don't know, the last thing you want to do is strike up a conversation. The cool thing is that Fred kind of dug what I was doing (much to my surprise) and really went out of his way to create as little waste as possible and to save everything. As a result, other than a few bent nails (whoops, need to go back and list those, they are in my pocket and I forgot), and a small bit of packaging, there really wasn't much left over for me. He had a few scraps of wood and the wood that he had to pull off the jam (which was in great shape) and asked me if he could take it all because he always needs odds and ends in his shop. I told him as long as he used it and didn't dispose of it, that was cool, so it was all re-purposed.

Now mind you, this was a teeny job, but still, it was kind of cool to see him come on board and help out with everything.



Day 9 1/9/08

Todays Haul:

  • 1 plastic pasta bag - recycling although I will be checking on this for sure
  • 1 catalog addressed to someone who doesn't live here - recycling (too much for the worms)
  • 4 pieces of paper and two receipts - worms
  • 4 toothpicks - worms
  • 1 plastic bag from new door flap - recycling
  • 1 paper insert from door flap instructions - worms
  • 1 hunk of coffee grounds - garden
  • 12 bent nails - garbage pile


Artist Recognizes The Greater Good

I got a press release sent to me about an artist named Jeffrey Scott Holland who was in the third year of an art installation and realized that what he was doing was causing major harm to the environment. I kind of like his story because it's a great case of someone doing something they are passionate about, but walking away from it for the greater good. So I emailed him and he was kind enough to write back with a quick synopsis of what he was up to and included some pics.

Good on ya and Huzzah!

Project Egg was originally an egg hunt in several U.S. states, with green plastic Easter eggs containing miniature paintings, prints, stickers, etc. and it was so popular that I did it nationwide the next year, with eggs hidden in almost all 50 states. For the 2008 version, my goal had been to hide Easter eggs all over the world, with at least some eggs in every continent, even Antarctica. Then I learned about the stretches of dead ocean filled with rotting plastic that's only biodegrading to the molecular level. When I then consider that most of the eggs don't actually get found, I realized they might be getting washed by storms into the storm drains that go straight to rivers that go straight to the ocean. When the implications sunk in on me, I wanted to vomit. Hopefully, by cancelling this series of public art installations, I'll be able to call attention to the environmental disaster that's going on right now. I'm amazed that this plastic-molecule phenomena has been going on for so long now and I've only just now learned of it.


Old Hair Bugging You?

Why not collect it up and send it off to Matter of Trust so they can use it to make mats that help naturally clean up oil spills.

Yep, you read that right, your hair can clean up oil spills. Beth at Fake Plastic Fish left this in the comments section and i thought it was worth posting about. Now I know in the grand scheme of things, cut hair is not one of the larger problems out there. On the other hand, if this stuff is a free and abundant resource, and it can be used to do something as good as cleaning up toxic oil spills, why not jump on board? It seems like they are interested in hooking up more with salons than with single individuals which makes sense, and sign up is free, but for $10 they will send them some posters etc to announce what they are doing. Why not pass this info along to your local haircutter and let them know that this is an option? I know if I was cutting hair for a living this would be a no brainer.

Folically Yours



Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Day 8 -I've conquered the bread problem! (I think)

I may have mentioned that i make lunches for the girls and we go through a fair amount of bread as a result. Add to that that I can easily sit down and eat a loaf of rye bread by myself and you're talking a lot. So I've started going to the bakery each week which I find to be quite enjoyable and it occurred to me today that they give me a new bag with each loaf. So I leaned across the counter and very nicely inquired if it would be OK for me to bring these same bags back and have them put the next loaves into them. A few awkward moments of silence and some bizarre looks later, they said it'd be fine. So I'm over the bread problem as I can now use the same bags over and over. They are thin so we'll see how long that lasts, but I'm pretty psyched about it nonetheless. It's weird how much joy figuring out that little bit of the puzzle brought me, but it's one step closer to keeping the basement from overwhelming me.



Day 8 1/8/08

Todays Haul:

  • 3 paper receipts - worms
  • 1 plasticoated paper wrapper - garbage pile
  • 1 aluminumy looking peel top from large yogurt container - gotta check on this for recycling
  • 1 tea bag and paper tea bag cover - worms (staple in the garbage)
  • 2 small pieces of thrice used note paper (originally junk mail) - worms
  • 1 cardboard egg container - worms
  • 1 detergent plastic tub with scooper HDPE 2 - recycling pile
  • 1 plastic bag from shredded cheese - recycling? need to check
  • 2 beer bottles with caps - recycling pile


China Outlaws Thin Plastic Bags

Everyone says that China is the big problem. Well it seems like they've trumped us on this one. According to Reuters China has passed a law "banning production of ultra-thin bags and forbidding its supermarkets and shops from handing out free carriers from June 1."

"China uses too many of the bags and fails to dispose of them properly, wasting valuable oil and littering the country, China's cabinet, the State Council, said in a notice posted on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn).

"Our country consumes huge amounts of plastic bags every year. While providing convenience to consumers, they have also caused serious pollution, and waste of energy and resources, because of excessive use and inadequate recycling," it said."

Why can't we follow suit on this? The Chinese people use 3 billion plastic bags a day and the country refines 37 million barrels of crude oil every year for the purpose.

Any of the candidates hearing this? This is the kind of leadership we need. And before anyone starts in on China isn't the greatest government, etc. etc, I'm with ya, but for the seeing the greater good, ya gotta give them credit in this one.



Monday, January 7, 2008

Day 7 A Few Answers

I have gotten several questions about things that people have emailed me so here are a few things I probably need to expound upon a bit.

I am not insane
I think that one's pretty self explanatory but i thought I'd put it out there. The ironic thing is that now that this is becoming "normal" for me, I'm beginning to realize even more so than before that what I was doing before was insane. By societal standards of what is expected of us all, I am a bit odd, but that said, if you take out the fact that we are used to doing so, the thought of taking your trash, putting it in a bin where some guy you don't know comes and picks it up and takes it to be dumped in some hole in the ground, is pretty insane if you think about it (not to mention that it's a horrid run on sentence).

Why My garbage Totals Don't Seem To Be Evidence of Much Food (yet)
Good one. For starters I eat atrociously and rarely have three meals a day as I forget a lot. That said, I tend to eat stuff that is not pre-made more than often so my guess is over time, we'll see ebbs and flows in this. For instance for dinner tonight the kids and I had bean burritos so at some point when we work our way through them, there will be packaging from the tortillas and cheese (the beans were bulk bought with a bag we re-use) that end up downstairs.

I Don't Have All or even Most of the Answers
My favorite emails that I've received have been from folks who think that I am doing this because I know what i am doing. While I probably spend more time on this than most people do (come on, you all blog about your garbage right?)I'm actually doing this because I don't know a lot about it - or at least as much as I''d like to. So for that reason, I will definitely have moments where I stumble and fall, but hopefully not down the stairs.

On a non-answer note, I had one of those "duh-huh" moments today as I was looking through the fridge trying to figure out what I had used last night for dinner. Now i have a sharpie near the fridge and anytime I take something from ANYTHING my initials go on top so it doesn't get tossed/recycled. I'm sort of shocked I didn't think of this before.

I spent some time in line at the grocery store today and am absolutely shocked at the waste that goes into all the packaging. I know this sounds weird but grab yourself a cup of Joe and head to your local "supermarket" and just spend ten minutes watching what people buy. It's a huge eye opener.

As far as all my mail that I had to recycle, for starters, that's over two weeks worth. Greendimes has severly diminished what I get, and the rest is split between things I need to get (statements etc) and solicitation from charities, which I understand but hate. So what Ive started doing is calling them up and asking for a supervisor. Then I kindly explain that I will no longer accept paper mailing from them and that furthermore, I will not donate to any cause that sens me paper mailing, but will be glad to have them contact me via email, which I give to them. They seem to be responsive so far, but we'll see what becomes of it.



Day 7 1/7/08

Light day today albeit with one unexpected addition. Also, I got around to opening mail and paying bills so it spiked today on the paper front.

Today's Haul:
5.5 ozs of mailings that are coated in some form or another - garbage pile

14 ozs of recyclable paper from mail - worms

1 small piece of dental floss (ya know for my dentist) - garbage pile

1 paper towel - worms

Approx 2 lbs of plaster covered wallpaper - garbage pile.

This was the unexpected addition. We have some weird plaster issues in a few parts of the house and try as I might I can't find the problem. I've had several experts in and nothing. Anyway, my wife was cleaning out the hall closet and she pointed out a little bubble near the middle. I poked at it expecting it to crack and ended up pulling this huge piece of wallpaper off that was covered in plaster and covering up some damage in the wall. The funny thing is my first thought was "oh &*%&^, I'm going to need to keep that in the basement" and my second thought was the damage I had done. Such is life.



Have something good that needs a new home? Freecycle it.

It's funny how often there are things we do on a regular basis that we just assume others know about. Well, Freecycle fits that bill quite nicely.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, freecycle is an organization that works via email that you join and then can give or get stuff as you need it. I came across it when we had an older queen size mattress to get rid of that was in good condition. Salvation Army et.al wouldn't take it and I heard about freecycle. I joined (it's free) posted it, and immediately got three emails. It was gone by that evening and what's more, it went to a lovely single mom who had been sharing her bed with her son due to a lack of funds. She was so excited about it and we felt great giving it away. Craigslist also has a free section, but I've had better luck with freecycle, I think it attracts a different crowd for some reason. I get the daily digests and more than once have found something that I want/need and gotten it for free.

Check it out.



Pictures From Week 1

Here are pictures of what I'm keeping from week 1

Here's the basement in all it's glory. I fear as I move forward my tools and such will have to find new homes in the garage. The clayish red thing at the bottom of the center is the composter. More to come on that.

The recycle bin. This has a plastic cover so it's not going to attract bugs and such. I'll be interested to see how long I can add to this before it's packed.

The trash bin. Not much in here yet as thankfully, much has been recyclable.

This is the "not sure yet" box which has stuff that is dubious as to it's final destination.

And of course, the dreaded dog food bag.

As i move along and check on things if I find something that I believed was recyclable and is not, I will move it to the correct receptacle.



What Happens To All That Recycling Anyway

I'll eventually be checking out first hand what happens to our recycling here locally, but in the meantime, Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish posted the following shocking video made for a British news service.

It's only about 3 minutes long and well worth the watch. I think the guy who has the recycling plant makes a good point. Each nation should be responsible for dealing with their own waste/recycling, just the same as we as individuals should be responsible for our personal output.

It's ironic because Tesco, one of the company's whose bags they found in China, is one of the few, if not the only, superstores in the world to list carbon output on all their products.

Food for thought.



Sunday, January 6, 2008

Give Your old Cell Phone New Life

Cindy B sent in a link to ReCellular, a company here in the states that takes old cell phones, refurbishes them and gives a great deal of money to charity all at the same time. I can't vouch for these guys but their mission statement is dead on and they have won a heap of environmental awards from places like the EPA and the National Recycling Coalition. E-waste, specifically from cell phones which have a HUGE turnover rate, is a major problem. It looks like these folks are offering at least a partial solution. The real solution is don't get a new cell phone every year, but if you need to, at least this is a better alternative to chucking it. While I think of it, another thing to do if you have an old cell and car charger you don't need is to keep them in the glove box of your car. Even out of service cells are required to work for 911, so it's a good emergency tool to have in there.



Catalog Choice Catalog Reducer

Enci sent in a great link to Catalog Choice a free service that helps reduce unwanted catalogs sponsored by the National Wildlife Foundation and Natural Resources Foundation. Thanks Enci.



365daysoftrash.com and pics

If you are passing on this website, 365daysoftrash.com now points here. Just seemed a bit easier than adding all the blogspot stuff.

Also, a bit crazy tonight as I am dealing with a lot of emails. I should have pics up tomorrow. I know how much the KROQ fans are waiting so i'll try to have them up early.



Day 6 1/6/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 cardboard bakery cookie box - worms
  • 1 25 watt incandescent light bulb - garbage pile
  • 1 plastic food bag - recycle
  • 4 pieces cellophane wrapper - recycle
  • 1 plastic pasta bag - recycle
  • 1 used Q-tip - cutting up for the worms
  • 1 set shaved fingernails (let's not mention this to the wife shall we) - way out back to biodegrade
  • 4 pieces of paper (receipts etc.) - worms
In addition over the course of the weekend but I can't really put a time on them:
  • 1 pear core - worms
  • 1 tea bag w/tea bag wrapper - worms
  • 4 eggshells - worms


Day 5 - 1/5/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 package of instant oatmeal - garbage pile as the inside is metallic coated
  • 3 napkins from a dinner out (they kept on replacing them!) - worms
  • 1 mac and cheese cardboard box - recycle as it's got some coating that I don't think the worms will dig (heheh)
  • 1 mac and cheese cheese packet - garbage pile
  • 1 handful of edamame skins - worms
  • 1 incredibly annoying trader joe's plastic pear holder-HATE THESE (but they are compostble or so it says on the bottom) - recycle pile
  • 1 pair wooden chopsticks - cleaned and heading to the basement "will eventually find some use for this" box
  • 1 paper covering from chopsticks -worms


Day 4 (A few days late)

We were out of town for two days with my parents who are visiting so this post and Day 5/6 posts are a little late. As I get into the groove on this little experiment, I think it's safe to say that Sunday nights I will be playing a bit of catch up. Having said that, the experience of heading out of town was an interesting one considering the parameters of what I am dealing with. We brought most of our own food as we were staying somewhere with a kitchen, but it was still interesting having to look ahead a few days at what my waste footprint would be.

So here was the haul for Day 4

  • 1 massive 50 lb bag of dog food which is made out of some plasticoated substance that fell from space eons ago. This goes into the headscratcher pile until i contact the company and find out more.
  • 2 plastic coated paper wrappers from the fishmonger which I tried to clean but didn't feel that i had done a good enough job, so these went into the trash. I was sort of bummed about that, but like I said, no public health hazards. I'm going to talk to the fish guys to see if I can bring a container from now on.
  • 1 cardboard food box - worms
  • 2 paper bags w/napkin - worms
  • 1 cellophane wrapper from condo soap - recycle but I have to check
  • 1 plastic sticker from wrapped soap - not sure about this one
  • 3 receipts - two saved for taxes one to the worms (in 7 years I'll feed the tax ones to the worms as well)
  • 1 waxy bakery style cookie handler - not sure what this is so it goes in the question pile for now
  • 1 plastic corn tortilla chips bag - recycle pile


Week One Overview

As I look back on the first week (well it was almost a full week anyway) I'm really kind of shocked at all that has happened.

For starters this whole thing wasn't even more than an idea a week ago tonight and now here I am full on into it, and connected to so many new and interesting voices. It's really quite remarkable and fairly overwhelming all at the same time.

Here are a few things I have learned this week

  • I need to start flossing as I fear that my dentist will read this blog
  • It seems that what's old is new again and we never should have changed in the first place. I wrote about handkerchiefs but I also realized that by buying our bread at the bakery, I can supply my own bag and I support a local business. It's an extra trip, but it's fresher, creates less waste, and is less expensive. As an added bonus, I keep my money in my community.
  • By going to the local fishmonger (I don't actually know if that's what they are called but I like the idea) I can save on packaging, support a local business, and get fresher cheaper fish from someone who knows where it came from. It took a bit to explain why I didn't want the Styrofoam holders, but he seems to have gotten it.
  • I need to remember to bring my own soap and shampoo when I travel so as not to use the plastic covered stuff they offer.
  • I can take myself out of the milk carton cycle and save money at the same time. Whole Foods sells 32 oz of milk in a glass container for .40 more than in a plastic one. When I bring it in I get 1.25 back, so it actually saves me money as well as reduces my waste impact.
I think the biggest thing that I realized is that a great amount of the waste I create is tied into time. For instance, going to the baker, the fishmonger (there's that word again) and the farmers market takes more time (conceivably anyway, I actually don't think it does as there are less people so no line waiting) but allows me to limit my packaging waste. In addition, by planning a weeks worth of meals ahead of time, something I'd like to start doing, I should be able to limit my waste even moreso by making more things from scratch - which again will take more time.

Either way, a great first week and only 51 more to go.

Thanks for your support.



KROQ Interview

Kevin and Bean of KROQ did a pretty funny interview with me on Friday AM. It sounds like they may check back in during the year as well. Here's a link.

You can also download it for free from the itunes store.