Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PCR Sidebar: Trashy Neighborhood Revisited

A photo from There is no "Away"
My neighborhood has stepped up trashing itself lately. I have a pretty direct barometer for measuring this - I pick up trash when walking to Yellowhouse, Walter's World, and Uncle Chein's. And the bags have been filling up more quickly. I used to leave the house with one bag. Then I switched to two. Now I've gone to four
One of four bags I picked up on my last Saturday walk
Most items recur often: straws, plastic drink bottles, plastic liquor bottles, beer cans, energy drink cans, red Solo cups, cigarette cartons, fast food bags, wasteful "free" newspapers that never get picked up, plastic utensils, styrofoam food containers, coupon slicks. Lots of disposable stuff. It gets overwhelming and sometimes depressing. We are trashy, trashy people.

And a great deal of the trash I pick up is not recyclable. At least half of the plastic is grade 5 or 6. Lubbock recycles only grades 1 and 2. We have no provisions for styrofoam recycling. The majority of what I pick up goes into the dumpster. It's begun to feel really futile. (But I have no plans of stopping.) The bottom line is that it's not enough to pick it up - we need to stop making it easy or available to throw down.

A straw and a drink lid outside my office this morning

So, it struck a chord with me this week when Treehugger ran an article about Heather Itzla, a California woman who walks her dogs and picks up trash along the way:

How dog-walking turned into plastic waste activism

The TH article led me to Heather's website, . I felt instant camaraderie with her (and her dogs) and I realized that she had taken things several steps further than I have. Check out all of the different pages on the website. My favorite page is the blog - I know what a picture is worth, but  the words (and the high quality photos) on the blog paint a much more complete picture of Heather's crusade. Please pay particular attention to the straw crusade.

The Americano I had for breakfast - no need to trash or recycle a cup, lid, straw, or stirrer
In case you want to learn more about reusable vs. disposable, here is another Treehugger article to add to your reading list:
May we all live on a less trashy planet.