Do you ever think about what the world will look like when you reach your golden years? I think for all of us, the answer can be found in the question. We see a golden time. We see what we want to see.
But what if, just what if, the next time you take your garbage to the curb, you think about where that bag goes once it leaves your home. What if you were to think about the barrels of petroleum that power our cars and make the fertilizer that grows our crops. What about all the paper coffee cups that are used once and discarded (about a billion a day). What if we think about where that disposable plastic bag goes after we bring our stuff back from the store and throw it out? The future stops looking golden, and quick.
At my place of work, the city’s department of the environment, this reality, this future, is all to real. And today, even we had a wake up call. My coworkers and I attended a screening of the documentary film “Trashed,” narrated by Jeremy Irons. The film covered the state of the wastes-tream, worldwide. Moreover, it noted the incredible and unusual changes of the last 50 years that have markedly changed our relationship with waste- the advent of plastics and their affects on our environment and our health.
The future (and present) is grim, folks. A particularly low moment came for me when Harrisburg, PA, not far from my childhood home, was called out for its problems with dealing with their waste-stream, putting particular focus on their incinerator and what using it has done to the local community. Mind you, Three Mile Island nuclear facility is not far away, and I have vivid memories of the famous meltdown there, too. Dioxins from the incinerator pose the more contemporary health threat, not to mention how it’s bankrupted the city. The film explores the problems of trash incineration in saddening detail.
But the film importantly points to actions that we can take to bend the curve back to balance. There was a cheer from the audience as the film shifted to San Francisco, and our progressive policies and actions to divert material from landfills to recycling and composting programs. Did you know that San Francisco diverts fully 80% of discarded material away from landfill to compost or recycling? And the aim is 100% by 2020. That’s right, no landfill by 2020. It can happen if we truly try.
One of my coworkers was interviewed by Irons in the movie and spoke eloquently about all these actions. A panel discussion followed the screening tonight and dove just a little deeper, as we searched to find ways to answer the call of the movie to stand up and demand action.
Sure the government can play a role by passing legislation. We’ve banned the plastic bag in San Francisco, and styrofoam foodservice packaging, too. Recycling and composting are mandatory for residents and businesses alike.
But there needs to be producer responsibility. Business and manufacturing need to produce products that are more easily recycled, and ones that consume less energy in being manufactured.
Above all, there needs to be a groundswell demand from the public for change. Everything we throw away is a choice, and so is everything we keep. What about addressing our behavior around consumption? What about avoiding single use, convenience packaging? Why not reuse containers and bags? Why not build a sharing economy? Why not demand every municipality have a composting program? Why not eliminate the harmful chemicals that already are poisoning our land and water. Decommission the incinerators.
This is what the movie inspired for me, but I encourage you to check it out. Find more at the following website. Link to the movie’s website: TRASHED – This is the story of garbage.
Think about what you throw away. Think about what you keep.
and Waste Nothing.
Check out the following story: b. patisserie Sweetens Lower Pac Heights, Starting Today – Eater Inside – Eater SF.
We were fortunate enough to try the kouign amann, sort of a hockey puck formed of buttery, flaky and compressed pastry layers thus dipped in sugar. This is an amazing and beautiful thing. And, a meal in itself. The other items described in the link above merit your swift attention, notably some fun macaron options. Savory lunch items, too! This is a major local opening folks, do go.
For fellow artists, this is a very handy resource:
Lots of ideas for a great gift (round up below) and if you’re looking for a fun afternoon of browsing, check out the Renegade Craft fair today if you’re in San Francsico, LA, Chicago, NYC or London. We’ re not huge fans of large retailers for gifts. We prefer giving (and receiving) something unique, handmade and best of all, local. Those gifts have heart. They might even be green. Keep your eyes peeled for artisans who explore REUSE in making their items rather than using virgin materials. Maybe they’re using recycled materials, too. How about food products, grown and packaged locally? If your vendor is local, you can be assured the carbon footprint in distribution is low.
So follow the link and learn more about the fair and if you can’t go, look for local artisans in your community… San Francisco Holiday Info « Renegade Craft Fair.
Here are some other ideas for you San Francisco folks:
Letter Press stationary, handmade cards and screen print dish cloths by
Beautiful hand cut wooden products, like cutting boards, stools, etc:
Local Honey grown by the busy bees at Hayes Valley Farm
(**note, this is a the last year for Hayes Valley Farm and their project, Project BEE – Cause. Get the last jar of honey from this amazing experiment in permaculture!)
Get a basket of baked goods at our favorite bakery, Thorough Bread and Pastry. Supporting them supports the students of the San Francisco bread making institute.
Get some cheese to go with that bread: La Fromagerie (2425 3rd Street, SF). They have raw milk cheese!
And jars of amazing peanut brittle or handmade marshmallows at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.
Batteries, couches, rags, …..mannequins? no matter what you want to get rid of, Recyclewhere.org can help. We all have stuff. And if you can call something ‘stuff’, it’s something that is otherwise unclassifiable and as such, probably something that you don’t need. Type in anything (time to name your ‘STUFF’) and give Recyclewhere.org try. We waste a lot of energy tending to the STUFF in our lives. Now is the time to get rid of your STUFF.
Recyclewhere.org reinforces the zero waste ethos that boils down to the following:
Reduce, then Reuse, then recycle.
Reduce your consumption, and get rid of what you don’t need in your home and in your life. If it can be reused, Recyclewhere.org will tell you how. And if it can’t be reused, recycling and safe disposal are the next best options.
See how this tool can make an impact in your home. Simplify your life and get rid of the stuff in it. And, join my coworkers and me in a RecycleWhere challenge. How much stuff can you get rid of in the next 31 days?
Use RecycleWhere to find the best recycling and reuse options!
Founded in Japan in 1980, MUJI is a company that sells clothes and household goods worldwide. They ‘ve recently opened their first west coast store right here in San Francisco, in the SOMA District. Why do we love it? We have fond memories of our first experience at a MUJI store, five years ago in Munich. There and here, the first feeling one feels upon entering the store is the zen-like experience of a design – focused space. From the design of the products to the design of the store itself, the MUJI vision is expressed in everything you see. From clothes to organizational aids, travel to stationery, furniture to kitchen, everything MUJI sells reflects their ideals of minimalism, of using natural or recyclable materials, of utility, of simplicity. You won’t find the bright colors of Uniqlo here, rather a subdued palette of neutrals and earthtones, of the materials of glass, cotton, paper and metal.
Nothing in the store is branded and in fact, the name MUJI finds its roots in the words Mujirushi Ryōhin, loosely translated as No Brand Quality Goods. That’s precisely what you get at MUJI. Objects here express beauty in their utility. And, it’s also affordable. It’s a true lifestyle store and one that outfits the kind of home we’d love to live in…we may not need to shop anywhere else!
(between Brannan St & Bryant St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
- Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30 pm – 8 pm, Sun 11 pm – 6:30 pm