Monthly Archives: October 2008

Day 119: A Little Green in the Desert

The shear nature of hotels and conferences produces waste.  From the mini shampoo bottles and plastic name tags, to the copious number of drinking straws, to the endless paper brochures and maps; if you have that many people together in one place, you’re bound to produce some garbage.  The last thing I expected to find in this land of extravagance was a full-blown recycling program.

When I first arrived at the hotel at Mandalay Bay, my keen, green eye caught sight of a recycling poster advertising that all of the hotel garbage cans were sorted forrecycling. “Hmmm,” I thought (ever cynical), “I wonder what they mean by ‘recycling'” as I pictured someone fishing a couple of beer bottles out of the can and leaving the rest for the landfill. Continue reading

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Day 114: City of (Consumer) Sin

Yes, I’m in Las Vegas. The land of spectacular and horrifying excess. The place of slot machines and showgirls, high end shopping and outdoor escalators, buffet dinners and bottled water, and spending, spending, spending. It’s not the place where you’d expect to find someone trying to live a consumer-free, waste-free lifestyle, so let me attempt justify it: I’m here for work.

I’m in Las Vegas for a conference, and I’m staying in probably the most luxurious hotel I have ever stepped foot in (not that I stay in a lot of hotels). My bathroom is as large as my kitchen back home– no joke. Outside my window an endless stream of cars heads into the city and downstairs the air conditioned casino is a chorus of slot machines.

The consumer in me is not as tempted to shop as I thought (high end jewelery and tourist knick knacks aren’t my style); however, saying no to free stuff isn’t as easy. Continue reading

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Day 110: Hanging it Out to Dry

Laundry.  First of all, I must say that Grant wanted me to call this post “Shout it out” (in reference to both the commercial laundry stain remover and the fact that I literally am letting people know what I think here.)  It’s pretty funny, but I wasn’t sure the laundry reference was obvious enough. . .

I imagine that laundry soap comes under basic hygiene for most people.  You wanna be clean right?  Us too.  Before the Clean Bin Project, we already used biodegradable laundry soap.  However, it does come in a plastic bag, so we thought we’d try some alternatives.  Continue reading

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Day 107: Ditch the Plastic Carry Bag for Crying Out Loud

It’s so simple. Everybody knows about it.  We all have them.  But are we using them?

I’m talking of course about fabric shopping bags.  The golden (and easy) first step towards reducing your environmental footprint.  I realize I am probably preaching to the choir here, but humour me.

I’ve asked a few cashiers how many people bring cloth bags to the supermarket, and the answer is always “lots” or “most people”.  Is that true? I decided to find out through an impromptu, unscientific survey.  I set up a stakeout on a few local grocery stores and counted people coming out: plastic vs fabric.  The results were shocking. Continue reading

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Day 105: Packaging Snobbery

We in Canada live in an almost overwhelmingly polite society.  I’ve actually seen people say sorry to inanimate objects at the supermarket after hitting a display with their cart.  Seriously.

It’s not that we’re not friendly, it’s just that we don’t tell other people what to do.  We don’t (usually) chat to strangers on the bus, we don’t intervene in people’s private lives, and we definitely don’t tell people what we think about their personal shopping decisions. . . . do we? Continue reading

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Day 100: Greener Pastures

I’ve written before about how one of the best ways to buy veggies without packaging is to get them locally.  And nothing is more local than growing them yourself.

Not all of us have the luxury of garden space, so I try to make the most of the backyard that I have.   Yup, that’s my little garden to the left in spring and then in summer (the wire mesh is to keep the cats out).  I’m down to kale, tomatoes and zucchini at this point, but the herbs are still going strong, and hopefully lots of them will make it through the winter.  This is about the time when I pack it in, lay out some mulch and wait for next spring to plant again.  But not everyone. Continue reading

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Day 98: Interactions in Waste

At a popular dine-in establishment.

“Can I ask you a favour?  Can I get my meal on a plate instead of in a plastic basket.  And can I get it with no foil liner?”

“They usually come in a basket.”

“I know, but I’m doing a project this year.  Can I get it with no paper, no plastic, just the food?”

“Oh, you’re trying to reduce garbage?”

“Ya, that’s it.  So, no paper, no plastic.  Is that ok?”

“Ok.  No problem.”

After which I receive a meal dutifully placed on a plate garnished with a little cup of dipping sauce made out of, you guessed it, un-numbered plastic.

I’m not sure what else to say.

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Filed under food, interactions, slip ups