Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Green Police

Ok, so I would advocate avoiding paper napkins, period.  But, if you gotta use them, at least take the advice of the Green Police in this hilarious video.

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Clean Bin in Westworld

We  aren’t  exactly media darlings, but were always stoked when our project gets some attention!  Hopefully it will make even one more person think about their rubbish output.  Check out the story on us at MyWestworld.com.

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Catherine Conway, I Think You’re Awesome

I have found my retail dream!  A package free food shop!

A place where they actually insist you bring your own container.  Where you won’t find plastic bags of any kind, and most products sport words like ‘organic’ or ‘local’ or ‘fairtrade’.  A place where you can get bulk raisins, package-free granola bars, unwrapped cheese, and shower gel and balsamic vinegar on tap! Continue reading

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Filed under food waste, reusable containers

Spot That Trash

I got a great, but highly disturbing, email today.  It was from my friend M who was out for a stroll on the seawall in West Vancouver.

The seawall, for those of you who aren’t Vancouverites, is a long paved recreational pathway running along the waterfront  in West Vancouver (there’s also one that winds for kilometers  around the entire downtown core and out to Jericho beach)

Anyway, the seawall is generally packed with people cycling, jogging, or simply walking along, breathing the fresh salty air while enjoying, say,  a latte in a disposable cup.  What?  . . . . You don’t think nature goes with disposable cups?

M said that is was pretty interesting to hear people’s reactions while she was taking this picture. “Most people laughed and made some sort of ‘haha that’s a funny picture’ type comments.”

I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason she took it.

I mean, it’s only funny because it’s ridiculous.  And it’s only ridiculous because we all know it’s not really acceptable.  Don’t we?

So, what do you think?  Is it an appalling symbol of consumerism and waste? Or is it no big deal?  Just a  sign of the times? Maybe people should get credit for trying not to litter and putting their cup as close as possible to the nearest garbage can?  Maybe not.

Thanks for the photo M.

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Filed under food waste, interactions

School Lunch

When you were a kid, did you have a lunch program at your school?

I didn’t.  But in elementary school we did have hotdog day once a month.  You had to fill in your order for the whole year in September.  I always got the same thing; two hotdogs. The choices were mustard or no mustard; I got one of each.  You could also get a carton of milk, a yogurt, and a cookie.

The cookies were made by my mom and another mom.  The weekend before hot dog day she’d make dozens and dozens of these raisin oatmeal cookies and take them into the school.  I actually have the recipe.  The official hotdog day oatmeal cookie recipe. (Let me tell you, it’s damn good.)

I obviously didn’t think about garbage much back then, but looking back on hotdog day, we were doing pretty good on the garbage front.  The hotdogs were prepared by a couple parents in the snack room (good luck doing that these days – parents boiling wieners and getting their hands all over the buns. No hand sanitizer in sight.  Someone would be suing someone for something).  Anyway, the hotdogs were each wrapped in a napkin (yellow for mustard, white for none), slipped back into the bag the buns came in, and put into big cardboard boxes -one for each class.

Sure, there were a couple plastic bags and wiener packages, but it’s a far cry from the garbage you can get at school these days.  Just look at this photo:

Mm, hmm.  That’s a school lunch. Looks to me like the the ratio of waste to food is about 1:1. Actually, I don’t know which is more appalling, the amount of packaging or the type of “food” these poor kids have to eat.

Which brings me to the Fed Up With School Lunch blog (where I borrowed the above image from).  Over in Illinois, there is a teacher who has decided to eat school lunch for a whole year – just like the kids.

Whether she’s trying to bring attention to nutrition, highlight the evils of over-packaging, or just see how many days in a row you can drink chocolate milk (seriously), it’s pretty scary.

So far, she is choosing to remain anonymous -probably a good idea considering the wrath she’d get from the cafeteria staff and school board –  but it’ll be interesting to see if she makes it through the whole year without either a) getting caught with her camera over her food tray or  b) passing out from malnutrition.

Watch the horror unfold at fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com

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Filed under food, food waste

Restaurant Take Out. Or Not.

So, I went out for dinner with a few of my girlfriends the other night.  And as soon as I arrived, one of them said “you’ll never guess what I brought!”

Sure, enough, I couldn’t, because it turned out to be a reusable plastic container that she had brought specifically to hold her anticipated leftovers.  (The crowd goes wild, cheering  for waste free dining)

Make no mistake.  My girlfriends have all known about the Clean Bin Project and about my tendency to carry reusable containers in my purse for some time now.  And we meet for dinner every month or two.  But this is the first time that this is the first time that this particular friend has come prepared for leftovers.

I’m not taking full credit for this event, but I do want to point to the fact that she specifically showed me her container.  This Clean Bin Project thing might have some teeny tiny influence out there after all.

So what about you?  Are you the kind of person who intends to avoid takeout containers, but somehow ends up with them anyway.  Or are you are the kind of person who has a container in your bag right now.

In either case, you should check out Take Out With Out.  They’re running a campaign to reduce restaurant waste.

Their slogan is “fill your stomach not the landfill”, and what with their blog, facebook group, and twitter feed, it’s kind of a combination how to/support group for avoiding take out containers.

It’s pretty new, mind you, (the website launched Jan 1, 2010) so some of the pages are looking a tad stark, but if you have a picture or a story to tell about take out, or if you’re a restaurant trying to do the right thing, then these guys want to know about it.

Whether you use plastic, metal or glass, let 2010 be the year when yon’t forget your container!

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Filed under food, no waste on the road

Cumulative Effects

Who doesn’t like to indulge a bit? A chocolate bar here, a vacation there, it’s human nature to want to treat ourselves – especially on special occasions.

Coincidentally, we just had a few special occasions whip by – Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years – whatever you celebrate, there was surely an excuse for indulgence in the last couple weeks.

For my part, I ate mass quantities of cheese and delicious refined sugar (and no, I don’t really feel that bad about it); I bought some decidedly materialistic (but useful) gifts that I wouldn’t have even considered giving last year; and I definitely burned more than my fair share of fossil fuels, driving up to Pemberton and Whistler to ski, and down to Seattle for a little get away.

Big deal, we treated ourselves, right?

Well, Christine at Simple Savvy pointed me to this link where you can see people heralding in the new year all over the world.  Most of the pictures are of people celebrating -fireworks, facepainting, extravagant celebrations.

Take another look that the image above.  It depicts a sanitation worker cleaning up after New Years in Times Square.

It’s beautiful, but I think it’s sadly symbolic of the cumulative impact we have.  Maybe each person only had one balloon, or one paper cup, or one handful of confetti, but in the end, it adds up to a lot of garbage.

Don’t worry, I’m not getting all doom and gloom on you here.  Because the point is that we can also have the opposite effect.  If everyone did one thing this year to reduce their consumption or their waste, it might not seem like a big change, but what a huge cumulative difference it would make.

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Filed under consumerism