Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day 10: 3 items, THE FINALE

I brought a delicious pear tart from Market Hall to Mea & Jerry's Honey Harvest party and had to bring home the foil-covered cardboard underneath it. I did peel the foil off the cardboard and put the soiled cardboard into our green compost bin.

So, that's it for my 10-day trash challenge. In all, 3.0 ounces of non-recyclable, non-compostable trash. The plastic pieces will be added to my weekly plastic tally and then rest in plastic limbo. The rest of it goes into the garbage bin.

Here's the collection:

  1. 12 Refresh Endura eye drop containers

  2. 10 Efferdent wrappers

  3. 1 ball of dryer lint

  4. 1 HP printer cartridge package

  5. 1 Safeway Organics cheddar cheese wrapper

  6. 1 Act fluoride rinse bottle cap

  7. 1 Act fluoride rinse neck wrapper

  8. 1 Rosenblum Cellars plastic wine cork

  9. 1 black plastic Just Desserts cake container bottom

  10. 1 gold-painted cardboard cake bottom

  11. 1 gold foil pear tart bottom

  12. 1 piece of brown packing tape
You can listen to my interview with Tess Vigeland, as well as the segment that aired on Friday here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 9: 2 items

Once again, the same 2 items.

Went to a potluck birthday party last night and had a near miss. I brought ingredients to make guacamole and was oh so careful about saving vegetable waste to bring home and compost. The same with a paper napkin I used. While others were eating from paper plates with plastic cutlery and drinking from plastic cups, I surreptitiously got a regular plate, fork, and glass from the cupboard. The host is someone I know very well. You couldn't do this sort of thing at just any party.

But funny things happen as the night wears on, the mood is jovial, and the libations are flowing. Someone asked me if I wanted a gin and tonic, and I said, "Sure!" All of a sudden I was holding a plastic cup in my hand, and what could I do? Pour it out? Well, another guest with whom I'd been discussing plastic and garbage whispered, "Let's wash and dry them really well and put them back in the package like they were never used." And that's what we did.

Is that cheating?

And as far as that foil chocolate bar wrapper from a few days ago, Radical Garbageman thinks I shouldn't have put it in the recycling. He would know, since he works in the industry. But in my defense, I do want to clarify that the wrapper was definitely foil, not mylar. It was almost as thick as the aluminum foil that comes in a box. And it bent like that kind of foil, too. It didn't look like it was mixed with any kind of paper. And I cleaned it off really well.

In any case, it's too late because it's already been picked up. So maybe it'll get through with the rest of the metal. Maybe not. Is it better to put it in the recycling bin just in case or toss it in the garbage? What do you think?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 8: 2 items

Okay, it's the same picture from Wednesday. But I had the same 2 items of trash on Thursday.

I'm going to a birthday party tonight and hoping not to have to bring trash home from it.

It seems that Tess has ended her trash challenge. I think I'll stick mine out for an even 10 days.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 7: 2 items

Yes! Finally, I'm down to the only two non-recyclable, non-compostable items that are daily essentials. I had a moment with a chocolate bar earlier and finally decided that the foil wrapper could go into my recycling. I hope I was right.

Here are some photos of my trash bag at this point. It's just a regular plastic grocery bag, and as you can see, it's no where near full.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 6: 6 items

3 containers of eye drops. It was a bad eye day. Other waste in the bag include a cap and wrapper from a bottle of Act fluoride rinse (the bottle itself is recyclable) and the regular Efferdent wrapper.

In the interest of full disclosure, I used and threw into the compost bin 3 paper towels and a napkin. Bad things happen to good people at work.

But in the interest of further disclosure, I regularly save my co-workers' used coffee filters, tea bags, and vegetable and fruit waste to add to my home compost bin. Does that help?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Day 5: 4 items

In addition to my daily Efferdent wrapper and eye drops container, we have a plastic cheese wrapper and plastic packaging from an HP inkjet cartridge. The HP packaging should have been included a few days ago. I added it to my plastic tally but forgot to add it to this one.

I'm so glad Oakland has an extensive composting program. Even still, I'm trying very hard to be mindful of my paper waste and use my cloth bandana as much as possible instead of paper towels or napkins. Yes, paper is biodegradable. But I think our trees are much more helpful to us as trees filtering carbon dioxide from the air than they are composting in the ground.

This Trash Challenge is helping me to be much more mindful of what I put in the garbage.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 4: 4 items - 4 items = 0 items

The trash for yesterday included a ball of laundry lint (our clothes contain some synthetic fibers, so the lint is not compostable), some tape that I used for the plastics display at the farmer's market yesterday, and the standard Efferdent wrapper and eye drops container.

But I also realized that while I may not want to put the paper plates, towel, and napkin from the past couple of days into my own composter, I CAN put them in the city's green compost bin. So out of the bag they go and into the bin. I still can't reduce the size of my bag because of that danged plastic cake bottom.

And yes, I have been carrying my bag with me, but it fits into my backpack so no one has to see it. Is that cheating?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 3: 4 items

Another day, another cake. These plates covered some leftover cake that Michael brought home from work on Friday. The other two items are my eye drops container and Efferdent wrapper.

We went out to dinner last night at Saysetha Thai Restaurant. I brought my bandana but didn't need to use it because the restaurant provided cloth napkins. However, there were paper placemats on the table, which we handed back to the server.

Please, please, please! Nobody bring me any cake for the next week!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day 2: 4 items

So I know I said last night I hoped to get through the day with only 2 items of trash, but that was before my friends came over bearing the gift of CHOCOLATE CAKE! You just never know what can happen.

The top of the cake container is clear #1 plastic, so I could take it to work to recycle. But the bottom is black #1 plastic, and no one around here accepts black #1 plastic. I know. I checked. I really, really didn't want to have to include it.

So the non-recyclable, non-compostable garbage today is an eyedrops container, an Efferdent wrapper, a black plastic cake container bottom, and a cardboard piece that was directly under the cake. I don't think I can compost the cardboard because it's coated with this gold metalic paint on one side which I don't think would be good for the plants.

I'm actually planning to keep the whole cake container (which will also be included in my plastic tally tomorrow) and use it as a little greenhouse for seedlings. But the rules to this challenge state that in order not to be counted, the items must be recyclable. It doesn't say anything about reusing them unfortunately.

So I've had to switch to a bigger bag. And so soon!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 1: 5 items

I did pretty well yesterday. Only 5 non-recyclable, non-compostable items. (The bag is not part of the trash. It's actually what I'm hoping to fit ALL my trash into for the next 10 days!) Two of the items, the eye drop container and the Efferdent wrapper (which I use to clean my retainers, NOT dentures!) will be daily additions to the bag. The Efferdent wrapper is lined with foil, so it's not recyclable.

I could have done better if I'd thought to bring a cloth napkin to work with me yesterday. So I ended up using a paper napkin and a paper towel. I let the paper towel dry out on my desk and used it multiple times. My co-workers think I'm crazy. I'm not putting the towel or napkin in the compost because I've heard that chlorine-bleached paper is not good for compost. Is this true?

The Rosenblum Cellars wine cork is plastic. I've added this brand to my ongoing wine list and won't be buying it again.

For most of the day, the entire bag of trash fit in my pants pocket, so I could carry it unobtrusively. Now, with the wine cork, it might bulge too much. Oh well.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to add only the eye drops and Efferdent wrapper. I went out for lunch today and remembered to bring a bandana with me to use as a napkin. The table was already set with paper napkins, so I returned mine to the napkin basket on the counter. I almost grabbed a paper towel in the restaurant bathroom after washing my hands, but remembered the bandana just in time and used it instead. (And Michael, if the bathroom door handle is one of those long ones, you can just push it down with your elbow.)

Today is not a work day, so the trash bag fits into the baggy pants I'm wearing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tess's Trash Challenge, Beth Style

Tess Vigeland, of American Public Media's Marketplace Money, is carrying the trash she generates for two weeks in order to raise awareness of America's throw-away society.

Read About Tess' Trash Challenge.

Vigeland is challenging Americans to carry with them all their waste for two weeks. I have decided to sign up for the challenge starting tomorrow (Thursday). I know I'm already documenting my plastic waste, but it will be instructive to see how much non-recyclable non-plastic waste I'm also generating. Hopefully not much at all. And hopefully this will encourage me to to a better job avoiding paper napkins and paper towels and make sure that anything that can be composted is composted.

Here are Tess's rules for the challenge:
  • No kitty or doggie poo (it's a health risk)

  • No carrying into restaurants or malls where I could get kicked out

  • Really smelly stuff goes inside extra Ziplocs

  • If it's recyclable (or compostable), you don't have to carry it around

  • Trash from work is included, as is trash from the rest of your household (i.e. if your honey tosses it at home, it goes with you...)
I am making some changes for my version of the challenge:

1) I'm not using any ziploc bags unless I can reuse some that I already have. Nothing new.

2) I'm not going to include my husband's waste. As I've mentioned before, we lead very independent lives when it comes to shopping and purchasing decisions, so if he buys things for himself that don't have some benefit for me, I'm not carrying them around with me.

3) She seems to be carrying around her trash in a regular plastic garbage bag. I'll be using either a paper bag or a BioBag instead.

4) I see no reason not to carry my trash into a restaurant if there's nothing icky in it. And since I compost and I don't have pet waste, I can't see why there would be.

If you decide to sign up for any part of the challenge, please let me know!