I’ve seen this picture of Kamilo Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii a million times in the past six years. It’s shocking. But not as shocking as seeing a plastic-covered beach up close live and in person like I did yesterday during Kokua Hawai’i Foundation’s Coastal Cleanup Day event at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Oahu.
When I first entered the area, I didn’t see much…
Then I looked down and started noticing microplastic particles in the sand…… Read the rest
Last week, I received an email from a new Starbucks employee who was shocked by the amount of waste she sees at the store everyday. Many of us do our individual part by bringing our reusable mugs for coffee, but it turns out that, according to this employee (who wants to remain anonymous to keep her job), the waste goes much deeper. I asked if I could share her rant here with you all. I’m not sure how to get Starbucks to clean up its act, but maybe you guys have some suggestions.
Jul 12 (5 days ago)
To: Beth Terry
From: [name withheld]
I recently started working at Starbucks, which sells itself as an eco-friendly, green company to the general public. Since I began work there, I have been disgusted every day with the amount of waste, not only of cups, lids, straws, and hot drink sleeves, but also by the packaging of many things that are used in the store every day. Many things which we sell come packaged individually wrapped, in a box of five (like… Read the rest
It’s a new week, and I’m ready to talk trash. One of the most common questions I get about plastic-free living is what I do for garbage bags. And the second most common question is what to line our waste cans with if plastic grocery bags are banned.
Here’s my short answer: We don’t line our trash can with any plastic bags at all.
The longer answer is that since we make almost zero trash, and the trash we do make is dry, we don’t have any need for bags to collect it.
… Read the rest
I’ve been meeting just the trashiest people in the last couple of weeks. Um… trashy in a good way.
I met Sara Bayles after the Blogger Beach Cleanup on October 24. You know, the one I missed. Sara’s blog, The Daily Ocean, tracks her goal of collecting trash on the beach in Santa Monica, CA for 365 days. She’s currently completed Day 72 and already collected 336.13 pounds of trash ALL BY HERSELF. And get this: she only collects trash for 20 minutes each day. That’s a lot to collect in a very short amount of time.
Sara is a ceramics teacher and told me that while always wanted to participate in an organized beach cleanup, she routinely found herself working and was never able to make it to one of them. So when she moved close to the beach this February, she took it upon herself to create her own beach cleanup program and invite others in the community to join her. So far, the community has collected an additional… Read the rest
Katie Woollven is a reader of this blog who contacted me in January to say she’d begun her own No Plastic For A Year Project. What’s more, she’s been working in Hawaii for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund’s Marine Debris Project, gathering up marine garbage, mostly plastic fishing nets.
This is a guest post from Katie, written last month, describing that project.
About 2 weeks after I met Megan Lamson, she had me lined up with a job doing exactly what I’m interested in. It’s with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund’s Marine Debris Project, and I’m helping her organize beach clean-ups near South Point.
These are not your typical beach clean-ups. My first one was in November and we picked up 5 TONS of garbage, mostly abandoned fishing gear. We have a truck with a winch to haul up the tangled mess of nets that wash up on shore. Each net-ball can weigh a ton, and can take 30 minutes to winch into the truck. The rope gets caught … Read the rest
As I mentioned, I had the privilege of presenting the Take Back The Filter campaign as part of a panel on zero waste grassroots activism at the conference of the California Resource Recovery Association this past Wednesday. I’ll tell you more about the presentation itself in a second. But first, I need to gush a bit about how the waste was handled at this conference, vs. the Blogher conference I attended a few weeks ago, and how easily other organizations could adopt this model for their gatherings.
Granted, CRRA is all about zero waste. It’s the whole point of the organization, after all. But so what? Just because other organizations might not cite waste reduction as their purpose for being in existence doesn’t mean they can’t make it one of their values and strive for zero waste at their gatherings. So, that said, here are a few things I saw that made me smile:
The requisite recycle/compost/trash stations throughout the … Read the rest
I’ve been asked to present the Take Back The Filter campaign (urging Clorox to take back and reuse/recycle used Brita water filter cartridges) as part of a panel at the California Resource Recovery Association’s (CRRA) annual conference next week. I am excited to have the opportunity to share the campaign with this audience, and when initially asked, wasn’t at all nervous about speaking: I’ve been talking about not much else for the past 3 months!
Not nervous, that is, until I found out that the theme of the conference is CARBONOPOLY: Climate Change Is Not A Game We Can Lose.
Oh dear. I know about zero waste. I know about the problems of plastic. I know why I don’t want Brita filter cartridges to continue to be landfilled or incinerated. But I hadn’t related the issue to climate change. In fact, I actually knew very little about global warming except that we’re all supposed to use less energy, buy fewer things… Read the rest
The Blogher Conference was kinda overwhelming. I feel like I’ve returned from another planet and need to be quarantined and debriefed. It was refreshing to go out to dinner last night with Michael and his sister and cousin and find out that they had never heard of Twitter. Have you? Because I had heard of it, and even signed up for it months ago, and then never “tweeted” because I didn’t understand why I should. But OMG, everyone at Blogher08 was tweeting up a storm. So, never one to resist peer pressure, I started tweeting too. Wanna follow me?
It was fun to hang out with some real live green gals whom I’d only so far met through cyberspace. From left to right: Jenn from The Smart Mama, me, Michelle from Green Bean Dreams and Jenn from Tiny Choices. Mamabird from Surely You Nest preferred to take the picture rather than be in it.
We also met Green L.A. Girl Siel, Have Fun * Do Good’s Britt Bravo, and Big Green Purse’s… Read the rest
Continuing my visits to SF bay area waste facilities, I took a tour yesterday of the San Francisco MRF (material recovery facility, aka recycling center) and San Francisco “dump.” What I saw looked pretty much the same as at Davis Street and CWS, so I won’t bore you with more photos of sorting machines and baled materials. Instead, I’ll sum up the experience with this little video I put together showing both operations, the clean and the stinky. This video is more detailed than the one I made of the CWS operation:
What you don’t see in this video, what San Francisco has that other recycling and garbage facilities lack (besides being a whole lot bigger) is an artist in residence! Yep, you heard me. San Francisco Dump has an Artist in Residence program. Artists get space at the dump and access to whatever materials they want to use for three-month periods.
Friday night, Michael and I attended a presentation of the SF Dump … Read the rest
My tour of Davis Street Transfer Center continued with a trip to the garbage transfer pit. This is where all of Oakland’s non-recycled garbage is dumped before being transferred in huge trucks to the Altamont Landfill. Just look at it all. You may not be able to tell from the photo how much recyclable material is mixed in with the garbage, but I can assure you that it’s a lot.
LESSON 9: Your hands are the very last human hands that will touch these items before anthropologists dig the stuff up in hundreds of years. That’s pretty much a direct quote from Rebecca Jewell. Contrary to what some people believe, items placed in Oakland garbage bins are never sorted. They are never even touched by human hands once they leave your curb.
Our residential bins are lifted and dumped mechanically into the garbage truck; the truck dumps its load at the transfer station; bulldozers ride over the garbage, compressing it to allow as little air into the… Read the rest