Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 247 - Thursday 9/4/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 juice bottle HDPE 2 - recycle
  • 1 paper sandwich wrapper - worms
  • 1 cardbaord pizza box - recycle
  • 1 gnocci bag - recycle


Weights and Measures

I just got through posting the new weights and measures for this month and it's interesting to see what is going on.  Garbage wise I have really not gone up much in the last month or two.  If I'm reading that correctly I'm assuming that means the habits I have learned are sticking and the choices I am making are not causing me to send more stuff the the landfill.  It'll be interesting to see if at the end of the year the majority of my trash was created in the first few months.  And don't think it's not lost on me that I'm also lucky that the dishwasher hasn't broken, but that'd probably be in it's own category anyway.

Paper weight actually dropped .5 pounds which points to the fact that not only has my paper intake (read: junkmail) shrunk, but that the worms are performing quite nicely.  Go WORMS!

Cardboard and plastic bags are up a few pounds each, no real surprise there and the misc pile is not up much either.  I suspect that this is due to the lightweight nature of those things, and the fact that my scale is only in .5 lb increments.  

I fully plan to get a more accurate scale at the end of the year for the final tally, I just hope it's not totally different (maybe I'm fatter than i think).



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 246 - Wednesday 9/3/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 bleach bottle HDPE 2 - recycle
  • 2 plastic pasta bags - recycle
  • 1 beer bottle - recycle
  • 1 aluminum tomato sauce can - recycle


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Feature - Website of the Month

As you can see over on the left, I have added a new feature called "Website of the Month".  The idea is to spotlight a new website every month that is a good site for simple solutions to some of the bigger problems we face.  Ideally I'd like to spotlight smaller websites that may not get as much traffic as some of the larger sites, in order to help bring their causes to light.

Morsbags, which i just wrote about last week, seems like the perfect first such one.  In fact, after reading about them, I came up with the idea, so it only seemed fair that they be the inaugural site.  Check em out, they're really cool.

If you have any suggestions for future sites, please feel free to contact me.



Ripples of Hope - Do Something

A post I just put up on Care2.

Ripples of Hope: It's Time To Stand Up And Do Something

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the life of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy, build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” –Sen. Robert F. Kennedy

I want to tell you about four people I know who are true heroes.

The first three are my good friends Marcus, Joel and Anna, who last week accomplished something that many thought to be impossible. Marcus and Joel sailed into Honolulu 87 days and 2,600 miles after leaving Long Beach, Calif., back in late May on board a raft made of 15,000 plastic bottles, a Cessna plane fuselage, and a host of various and sundry other disposed of items.

While what Marcus and Joel have done, along with their land-based counterpart Anna–without whom they would not have accomplished this incredible feat–is truly amazing and inspiring, that is not what makes them heroes in my eyes. Many would say that they are heroes simply because they put themselves in harm’s way. Many would say that they are heroes simply because they took on a Herculean task for the greater good, and accomplished it tenfold, having their message heard around the world. Many would say that they are heroes because they persevered through what at times must have been the intense emotions that accompany any undertaking such as this. And they would be right.

But what truly sets Marcus, Joel and Anna apart, what makes them heroes in my eyes, is that they did something. Plain and simple, they saw a problem and rather than sit idly by, they stood up and said, “How can I make this better?”

Marcus, Joel and Anna threw a huge rock in the pond and created mighty ripples that are changing the world for the better. They are heroes.

The fourth person I want to talk about today is my Uncle Bob.

Uncle Bob passed away last week. He had been sick for quite some time. I was not able to attend the funeral as it was across the country, but my mom e-mailed me shortly after the ceremony and told me about all the people from the community who came to bid Bob farewell.

Bob owned a gas station back when he was younger and pretty much ran it most of his life. He wasn’t a wealthy man, yet my mom told me how time and again, people kept coming up and telling her how, when they didn’t have enough money, Bob would give them free gas so that they could get to work or get their kids to school. They told her about how Bob would come with his plow and clear out their driveways when the huge snowstorms hit, even if they didn’t have the money to hire him to do so. They talked of his service in the Korean War, of his gentle smile and of his amazing harmonica playing abilities.

Of course, we’ll probably never know how many people Uncle Bob actually helped out in this way because he wasn’t the kind of guy to make a lot of noise about such things. To him, that’s just what people do. You see a problem and you take care of it. He did something.

Uncle Bob threw a small rock into a small pond, time and again, and created mighty ripples that changed his community for the better. He is a hero.

While doing something huge on an international stage can be effective, doing something locally on no stage at all is just as important. It’s not the size of the accomplishment, it’s the act itself. That is what truly makes the difference.

How many acts of injustice, environmental, legal, social or otherwise, do we all see every day? How many of us actually get up and do something about them? How many of us stand up and scream at the top of our lungs, through our actions, or even in some case with our actual voices, “Enough, I will not sit idly by and watch while this continues to happen. I’m taking a stand, and while I may not have the solution, I will not be part of the problem. I’m going to do something and do it now.”

You see it doesn’t take a raft or a snow plow or any one specific ability to make things better, it just takes the desire for change, and the willingness to sacrifice a little bit of yourself for the greater good. Put the needs of others ahead of yourself, look around and open up your eyes, seek out injustices and then work towards fixing them. Scream out loud and don’t take no for an answer.

Pick up that rock and chuck it in the pond.

Be a hero.

Do something.


Day 245 - Tuesday 9/2/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 cardboard cereal box - recycle
  • 1 wax cereal bag - recycle
  • 1 plastic wrap from toilet paper pack - recycle
  • 1 plastic windsheild washer fluid jug HDPE 2 - recycle


Monday, September 1, 2008

Home Water Testing

These are a few links to home water testing kits and labs that are worth checking out. While I personally think we in the US have all been led to believe that our tap water is no good, in some cases, this is the case and caution should be taken. You can get reports on the water quality in the area you live here, but should you be concerned about the water coming into your personal dwelling due to older pipes or some other problem, you can check out some good inexpensive home tests at Discover Testing, a site that Consumer Reports recommends.  If you are looking for a full lab test, these are available for a little under $200.  Please note that i have not used either of these companies but understand them to be reputable.


Day 244 - Monday 9/1/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 chips bag - garbage
  • 1 plastic rice bag - recycle
  • 1 styrofoam fish holder - recycle
  • 1 plastic wrap from fish - disposed of due to health reasons
  • 1 spongy fish tray liner - disposed of due to health reasons
  • 1 piece of chewed gum in wrapper - garbage
  • 1 museum sticker - garbage
  • 1 sticky back from museum sticker - garbage
  • 1 plastic wrap from ice cream - garbage
  • 1 wooden stick from ice cream - worms


What's In The Basement - September


  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 piece chewed gum
  • 1 museum sticker
  • 1 plastic ice cream wrapper
  • 1 candy wrapper
  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 piece chewed gum in wrapper
  • 1 shrink wrap from fruit holder
  • 1 large ball of used tin foil
  • 1 tetrapak milk container (dirty)
  • 1 cookie bag
  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 plastic table from pizza box
  • 1 box frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1 piece tape
  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 plastic wrap from mushrooms
  • 1 packet from rice box
  • 2 pieces chewed gum in wrappers
  • 2 small plastic straws
  • 1 plastic bag from pizza dough
  • 1 staple
  • 2 pieces chewed gum in wrappers
  • 1 baggage tag
  • 1 candy bar wrapper
  • 1 plasticoated credit card sleeve
  • 1 plasticoated paper plate
  • 4 small chips bags
  • 1 wristband
  • 1 metal thingy from champagne bottle
  • 1 piece tin foil
  • 1 cloth face towel
  • 1 backing from stamps
  • 1 foil top from honey jar

  • 1 styrofoam fish platter
  • 1 brown sugar bag
  • 1 plastic tofu bag
  • 1 plastic pie wrap
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 plastic couscous bag
  • 1 glass grape juice bottle
  • 1 glass spaghetti sauce jar
  • 1 local paper
  • 1 plastic cookie holder
  • 1 plastic cookie wrap
  • 1 plastic bag from face towel
  • 1 plastic yogurt tub PP5
  • 1 cardboard video cassette backing
  • 1 plastic videocassette front
  • 1 videocassette plastic wrap
  • 1 cardboard blintzes box
  • 1 plastic tray from blintzes box
  • 1 cardboard cereal box
  • 1 plastic cereal bag
  • 1 plastic salad bag
  • 1 plastic fettucini bag
  • 1 cardboard veggie burger box
  • 1 plastic bag from veggie burgers
  • 1 plastic marshmallow bag
  • 1 plastic pasta bag
  • 1 plastic milk jug ring
  • 1 plastic bag from nuts 
  • 1 plastic food to go container PP5
  • 1 plastic yogurt tub PP5
  • 1 plastic sample holder PP5
  • 2 styrofoam take out containers
  • 1 tetra pack oj container
  • 1 cereal bag
  • 1 video cassette wrapper
  • 1 piece tin foil
  • 1 cardboard vegan hamburger box
  • 1 plastic hamburger packet
  • 1 cardboard video cassette backing
  • 1 plastic video cassette front
  • 1 plastic pasta bag
  • 1 styrofoam container
  • 2 cassette wrappers
  • 1 cardboard cassette backing
  • 1 plastic cassette pacakging
  • 1 juice bottle HDPE 2
  • 1 cardbaord pizza box
  • 1 gnocci bag
  • 3 beer bottle w/tops
  • 1 cardbaord beer six pack holder
  • 1 cardbaord backing from camping utensils
  • 1 plastic cover from camping utensils
  • 1 styrofoam mushroom packet
  • 1 rice box
  • 1 pizza box1 tofu tub HDPE 2
  • 1 beer bottle w/top
  • 1 chips bag
  • 4 beer bottles w/tops
  • 1 marshmallow bag
  • 1 glass soda bottle
  • 1 simple green refill bottle HDPE 2
  • 1 plastic juic bottle HDPE 2
  • 1 glass drinking bottle
  • 1 plastic rice bag
  • 1 cardboard cereal box
  • 1 wax cereal bag
  • 1 plastic wrap from toilet paper pack
  • 1 plastic windshield washer fluid jug HDPE2
  • 1 bleach bottle HDPE 2
  • 2 plastic pasta bags
  • 1 beer bottle
  • 1 aluminum tomato sauce can

Disposed of Due to Health Reasons:
  • 1 plastic wrap from fish
  • 1 spongy fish platter liner
E-waste/HAZ waste
  • 1 broken car lightbulb
  • burned one small pile of termite infested wood approx 3 pounds


Junk Arrives in Hawaii!!!!

This is way overdue but a massive congrats to Marcus, Joel and Anna for the successful arrival of their boat Junk in Hawaii last Tuesday!  86 days, 2600 miles, and a whole lot of seasickness pills. Amazing!  This picture is from the front of the national paper in India so I guess to say that their voyage was successful would be an understatement.

I'm posting their arrival post below but you can also check it out here.


JUNK has arrived safely, to a throng of cheering supporters, journalists, and videographers. After a few hours of interviews, the crew headed out for a much deserved lunch of FRESH FOOD and drink.

Photos coming of the arrival as soon as we've all settled into the land reality. Meantime, some final thoughts from Marcus and Joel:

At 1:00 am I took the helm, as Joel climbed into the cabin to sleep after having been on watch for 8 hours. A squall quickly overcame JUNK and left me and the deck drenched. The moon shot out from behind the clouds, illuminating the backside of the storm. By the light of the moon, a complete rainbow appeared. I’ve never seen one at night. I’ve 8 hours to keep the raft on a steady course for Honolulu, which is now only 40 miles away. There is so much to think about, so much to do, but still plenty of time to let my mind wander and ponder on this voyage. It’s been a long summer.

2,600 miles of open ocean crossed in 87 days. From our first week of sinking hopes on a sinking raft, through four hurricanes that swept under us, to the unbelievable chance meeting with Roz Savage in the middle of nowhere, we have had quite an adventure. We’ve collected 10 ocean surface samples using our marine debris trawl, managed to snatch a few large pieces of plastic debris that floated under us, and caught fish with stomachs filled with particles of plastic. Plastic is forever, and it’s everywhere.

That’s been our point. The Synthetic Century should have ended 8 years ago, replaced by the Age of Sustainability. There are over 20,000 man-made chemicals produced by the billions of pounds annually that are dispersed throughout the globe in an open loop of consumption that often ends as waste to be buried, burned or to flow down coastal watersheds out to sea. It is unsustainable and deeply troubling knowing that many synthetic compounds are persistent in the environment and are harmful to wildlife and humans. Plastic marine debris is one of them, and is the most ubiquitous form of pollution visible around the world. It is clear that single-use disposable plastic products have no place in modern society.

We return to society tomorrow if all goes well, to the world of alarm clocks, calendars, cars and shoes. Three months is enough time to forget the world you left and accept a new reality. But not everything is forgotten. I long for my friends, family and fiancĂ©e. I crave fresh veggies and exercise. In three months I wonder how I will reflect on this summer? Will there be days when I will find myself wishing to be back on JUNK, even if only for a minute? I don’t know what this experience will bring, but it is my intention to use it as a starting point for hundreds of conversations about solutions to the plastic plague. We have, in half a century, transformed 2/3rds of the ocean surface into a plastic soup. Knowing what I know, it would be immoral to do nothing.

As I watch the sun set on the final day at sea, I am overcome more with humility than excitement. I am truly humbled by the efforts of so many people that have made this journey a reality. Donations of time and funds came pouring in once we committed to this project, and thousands of people followed our story online. From an idea sketched on paper years ago, to the final miles of an amazing adventure, I can only say “Thank you.”

Best wishes,

And for Joel's final words, read on:
Land oh! I spotted land this afternoon at 1:45 Hawaii Time. The flanks of Mount Haleakala were showing through the clouds on East Maui. It’s been 85 days since we were towed out of Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach and around two months since sailing away from Isla de Guadalupe, the last piece of land sighted.

Junk was built in Long Beach next to the mouth of the Los Angeles River. Everyday I was there working on Junk the tide would push plastic debris into the harbor and remind me why as doing this. In the 2600 nautical miles since then we have observed all kinds of plastic debris floating and collected in the trawl. We have also watched a small school of fish, rainbow runners, that have been following Junk, grow from small fries with their egg sack attached to juveniles close to a foot in length. They too have traveled through the gyre gathering plastic debris. After catching one of the larger rainbow runners we looked in it’s stomach and found it was full of plastic bits including a pre-production plastic pellet or a nurdle. It gives me a profound sense that there is no place and no life form on earth that isn’t being affected by the on slot of synthetic chemicals that humans are releasing into the environment. It also brings home the point that planetary life support system works in cycles and we eventually learn (usually the hard way) that things we once though were benign directly affect human health and that there is no difference between environmental health and human health.

I am looking forward to being on land, but I’m staying focused on the task at hand, that is safely navigating Junk through the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu and into the Ala Wai Harbor. The open ocean has it’s challenges but sailing close to land is often more dangerous. Kalaupapa Peninsula almost wrecked Don McFarland on his rafting voyage from California to Hawaii more than fifty years ago. We trying to stay at least 10 nautical miles north of Kalaupapa but not so far north that we get trapped on the windward side of Oahu and blown into the sea cliffs around Makapu’u. Right now the weather is perfect. We’re making our course dead-on and at this speed we should arrive at Diamond Head around noon.
Malaho for following the Junk Blog!


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 243 - Sunday 8/31/08

Today's Haul:

  • 3 napkins - worms
  • 1 plastic straw - recycle
  • 1 glossy flyer - garbage
  • 1 cardboard post card -unaccounted for (entered into sweepstakes)


La Dompe/The Dump - A short Film

One of the filmakers of this little short sent me a link. It's the story of a guy whose town stops garbage pickup and what happens to him. A little long, but it's pretty funny and the music is great!