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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trashy Trash Trash

I've been thinking about trash.

Moving to a small apartment with a small garbage can has made me very aware of what I throw away. Having to walk the garbage bag down 3 flights of stairs, then down another to the basement, out the back door...and a short walk to the ally makes me not want to make much trash! We usually fill up one small garbage bag a week...but even that seems like so much! I'm still trying to figure out where I could take my food scraps to reduce that even further. One of my goals during The Compact is to buy groceries/food with little to no packaging. This drastically reduces the amount of trash one produces. I'm amazed by how much trash we can throw away just by ordering take-out one night! Wow.

A movie that is closely related to this topic is "The Gleaners and I" (thanks Ali!). I just finished watching this quirky little French film about modern day gleaners and urban scavengers. It was incredibly interesting to me...I've always been curious about the lives of experienced dumpster divers and people who live completely off of the trash that others create. The movie goes far beyond that and delves into the world of found object art and into the lives of those making a difference in their neighborhoods. I can't say enough about this movie...I think everyone should see it.

The Compact has me on the lookout for items that I can re-use or use in a different way. In my research about these things, I came across some fun Flickr groups dealing with this topic:
ReUSE Project
Tips for Recycling and Reusing
Trashion Nation

There are also some great sites dealing specifically with re-fashioning items of clothing:
Wardrobe Refashion
Wardrobe Refashion (Flickr)
Little Brown Dress ::: Recycling Project

And more sites discussing found object (trash) art:
Art from Trash

Books to check out:
Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash
Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things

Today, when you throw something away...ask yourself if it could be recycled, re-used, or given to someone who needs it (Freecycle!). In a disposable may feel weird at first, but it does the earth GOOD!

Photo credit: D'Arcy Norman


Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

If you only have time to read one of these books, read the first one... she highlights some of the most interesting facts from the second book anyway. And she's amazingly fascinating, even though she's just talking about garbage.

One of my favorite moments is when she's sifting and weighing her trash (again!) and her toddler interrupts the serious process with this plea, "Mommy, can you sing 'Stewball'?"

This was not only a humorous moment, but also something that made me think... we are often like that child... we get tired of the work it takes to live responsibly and we long for a rousing chorus of something that'll take us away.

That's not necessarily always a bad thing... to take a break from the weight of it all... but it's not a place to stay either.

11/01/2006 5:48 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Oops! That second book is not the one I was thinking of... I was thinking of Waste and Want. Sorry!

11/01/2006 6:18 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Have you ever considered a worm composter for your food scraps? My friend lives in a small apartment and has thousands of worms in a bin in the basement that eat her compost every day. No smell, just lots of beautiful black worm castings for her garden and worm tea for the plants. It doesn't get overfed during winter, either. She's got her own secret set-up but if you want to know how she does it, let me know and we'll get in touch somehow (PM me @ MDC? jeninmpls) :)

Just be sure to clearly label your worms DON'T THROW ME AWAY and put your name on it very conspicuously - I had a worm composter I was starting and my landlord thought it was just a bunch of old rotting newspapers and threw it into the garbage bin... and then threw broken glass on top of that. Poor worms.

11/01/2006 12:13 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Jen...I have thought about that. The only problem is that I don't have a garden. I could do it and save all the casings for friends that garden though. I will shoot you a PM...thanks!

11/01/2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous sarahtar said...

I love old WWII era books for reusing and refashioning ideas. They were so thrifty back then.

Would your apartment building consider a small compost bin? (Homemade using found materials, of course.)

11/01/2006 12:34 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

Even just doing more recycling now has made me think of each thing I toss. I didn't even set the garbage out last week; I had accumulated so little by sorting it for recycling. Good thoughts.

I am planning to begin composting in the spring -- any suggestions?

11/01/2006 1:31 PM  
Anonymous chasmyn said...

Oh MAn! I just spent hours perusing some of those links, then being led to other links through those Flickr pages.

11/01/2006 7:59 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Sara, I'm sure that someone out there will be happy to take your worm castings and tea. Or some smart person on freecycle will accept them. We had people accept offers of ready compost on freecycle, coming over and digging it out of our composter themselves.

Charity, the key to a happy compost pile is to try to balance wet with dry. Too much wet (food scraps, peels, etc) will lead to lots of mold; too dry and the compost won't break down as well. Leaves + food scraps are our favorite combination; we fill with leaves in the fall and then add food scraps all winter and summer. (We have lots of leaves.) You can also add - of all things - laundry lint as a dry ingredient. Egg shells, too - just no animal products or oils. Some people turn their compost, saying it breaks down faster; we are lazy composters and just pile and let it do its own work. We grew our tomatoes this year in pure compost and wow, did they produce.

11/01/2006 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

We have a huge landfill just a couple of miles from our house. Our children understand,just by looking at the size of this landfill that we must do all we can to preserve our earth as God intended for us to do.
Thanks to you Sara,for sharing your love of the earth too!
Kim in IN

11/02/2006 4:50 AM  
Blogger BurdockBoy said...

I love the Gleaners and I. I watched the DVD a couple of months ago that included an updated version of what many of the people featured in the film were doing years later.

Portland, OR has quite a gleaning movement happening. The People's Co-op there even has an area outback that acts as a freecycle area.

Thanks for the reading suggestions. I'm always looking for another book.

11/03/2006 8:03 PM  

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