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.
Because, “we’re all made to be AWESOME.”
Click here for A Pep Talk from Kid President to You – YouTube.
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.
When we saw this inspirational video, we had to share it:
“People realize that we shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly well, we shouldn’t throw away people, either”
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!
Your Trash Talking Tuesday tip:
Check out the infographic and the link below for some amazing factoids. For instance, did you know the average T-Shirt wastes 700 Gallons of water during manufacturing alone? and one pound of textiles emits more than 7 pounds of CO2!
Textile waste creates pollution and wastes precious resources so before you throw your clothes in landfill bin, consider donating, selling or recycling them.
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Your Trash Talking Tuesday Tip: Green Your Black Friday! | sfenvironment.org – Our Home. Our City. Our Planet
Giving is good. But giving green is better.
Buying something that is new, whether for yourself or someone else, comes at a cost- the energy consumed in making it, transporting it, and delivering it. Why not have a net zero holiday this year? Shop vintage, antique, second-hand, and give an existing item a new life. Alternatively, make something. Grow something. Donate something. You’ll be giving from the heart, and using items you already have on hand. Check out the article below for many handy, thoughtful tips to kicking off your holiday shopping season in a sustainable way. Green your Black Friday.
Courtesy SF Environment:
Black Friday kicks off the season of giving. As you check off your list, here are a few tips you can keep in mind to make your Black Friday (and the rest of the holiday season) a little greener.
Before you head out, consider taking public transportation.
Why sit in traffic and worry about parking when you can take public transit? You can treat yourself with the money and time saved from driving and parking. Plan your trip with 511 Transit>
Remember to bring your own bag.
In San Francisco, you will save ten cents every time you swap a reusable bag for a disposable one. Find out more about the new checkout bag ordinance>
Not all gifts need to come in a box; give your loved ones an experience.
Avoid extra packaging and give a gift that will be remembered forever. Some of our favorite gift ideas include: concert tickets, art or dance classes, a car sharing membership, or even a gift to charity. For low budget experiences you can gift your own time by making dinner, babysitting, washing a car, or cleaning out a garage or attic. Visit RecycleWhere to find out how and where to recycle, reuse, or dispose of anything, anywhere>
The perfect gift can be found in an unexpected place. You can find something unique at an antique store or a flea market, or even a nursery.
Avoid the hustle and bustle of the mall and peruse antique stores, consignment shops, and flea markets for one of a kind gifts. Seeds and potted plants are gifts that last all year, and help clean our air.
When it’s time to wrap your gifts, look for paper that is made from post-consumer recycled content, or better yet look around the house for even more unique options.
Why buy new wrapping paper when you can make your own? Kids’ drawings, old maps, newspaper comics, and even cloth can make your gift stand out. Stop by a creative reuse store like SCRAP to get even more creative. An SF Environment favorite is to make one gift into two by wrapping your gift in a reusable bag!
Your Trash Talking Tuesday tip:
Think diversion, aim for zero waste. Currently, San Francisco diverts 80 percent of all discarded materials away from landfill through source reduction, creative reuse, recycling, and composting. San Francisco’s zero waste programs, in partnership with Recology, helped San Francisco become Greenest City in North America in 2011 and by 2020, that goal is 100%.
Government can play a valuable role in achieving zero waste through the infrastructure it provides. But even if your city doesn’t have these programs in place, what can you do?
Reuse rather than dispose, take your own bags to the supermarket, take your own mug or thermos to the coffee shop, use reusable containers rather than sandwich bags for lunch, find a way to give a ‘second’ life to items rather than throwing them away, donate unused items to a good cause and of course, recycle what you can. Compost in your backyard. With a little thought and creativity, you’d be surprised how much you can reduce what you send to landfill.
For the full story, check out the following article on SFEnvironment.org
Your Trash Talking Tuesday tip:
Don’t waste your vote!
Vote today if you haven’t already.