Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Another Sad Day for Recycling

Last Saturday, Steve and I met up with another couple at the Lincoln Financial Field for the Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw concert.   The concert started at 4:30, and we got there around 3:30 to do a little tailgating.  Apparently, tailgating at this concert started very early in the morning, and we ended up parking a good 15 minute walk from the stadium.  We hung out for a while, catching up with our friends before actually going into the concert.  I particularly enjoyed sitting in a chair the whole time and not once having to chase a little kid.  It was a nice break from parenthood.

Let me gave you a little background  on country music and Philadelphia.  It isn’t all that popular around here.  We only have 1 country music station, and I don’t readily advertise that I am a country music fan.  Steve is not.  He is a great husband who does indulge me by being my date to these concerts.  However, Kenny Chesney regularly makes a stop for a performance in Philly, and the event is usually sold out.  Why not?  It’s an all day party fueled with lots and lots of alcohol (water for me, of course). 

As we headed over to the stadium, we witnessed the craziness of the day first-hand.  I regret that I didn’t take any pictures!  What was I thinking?!  The parking lots near the stadium were filled with people, most of who couldn’t walk a straight line, stand at all, or even stay awake.  The ground was covered in unidentifiable liquids.  Beer bottles and water bottles littered the pavement.  There were beer pong tables erected in parking spots.  Porta-potties constructed out of plywood in the back of pick-up trucks.  But above anything else that was overwhelming was the smell.  The smell of urine baking in the sun made me so grateful to have parked far away from this madness.    

Maybe my reaction is a yet another sign that I am getting old.  Maybe it was because I was stone-cold sober, but it was still disgusting.  We went in to enjoy the concert, despite drunk people being escorted out by security and a fist-fight behind us, but when we left, the trash all over the ground was still shocking.  I just looked at all the empty bottles thinking that they will never be recycled.  They’ll be thrown out and left to take up space in a landfill for a million years Yes, you heard me right.  It takes a million years for a glass bottle to biodegrade.  So next time you’re planning a tailgate, please try to have a recycling plan in place for the day too.  Drinking and recycling can go together.

The Vegan Experiment: Day 10

Day 10

Breakfast:  Oatmeal with walnuts and banana
Snack: Almonds
Lunch:  Toast with peanut butter, crackers and hummus
Snack:  Apple
Dinner: Tempeh lettuce wraps (tomato, carrots and quinoa), corn and pineapple

Let me start by saying that I love tempeh! After last night’s experience with seitan, I was very hesitant to try this.  I am so glad that I did.  I had never had it before nor had I ever even heard of it until this diet.  You can find it next to the tofu and also a soy product, but it’s much heartier than tofu and very easy to prepare.  It’s made of soybeans that are somehow bound together in patty, and it almost has a nutty flavor.  I don’t even know if that is the best way to describe it.  I cooked it according to the instructions on the packaging and was very happy with the results.  Apparently, cooking it is essential or else it can be very bitter. 

While the picture doesn’t make you start to salivate, trust me when I say that this is tasty.

I sliced it into strips and sautéd it in some olive oil until it browned a little bit.  Then I turned the heat way down low and let the pan cool down a little bit and then added some soy sauce.  The soy sauce kind of sizzled away but not before it had flavored the tempeh.  So good.  The whole cooking process takes about 5 minutes.  I can think of a bunch of ways to eat this – in stir fries, as a burger, as a sandwich filler, even in tacos.  It is delicious and a good source of protein (about 18 grams per serving). This was a much better experience compared to the seitan.

What foods do you like that may not be so pretty to look at?

Destroying the Environment 1 Diaper at a Time

I have been meaning to write this post since I started this blog, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I think that my avoidance of this topic stems from guilt and embarrassment. My son is now 2 and we have another baby in the house, and we use disposable diapers.  That’s not very green, is it? Before my son was even born, my husband and I had grand plans to use cloth diapers. We read that it takes approximately 450 years for a diaper to biodegrade in a landfill. We also read about the thousands of dollars we could save avoiding purchasing disposable diapers. We even purchased an arsenal of Bum Genius One Size cloth diapers in anticipation of saving the environment and money. After much research, we had a game plan. We were going to use disposables for the first month, for overnight and for daycare (no choice in that one). We stuck to our plan for all of 3 months.

What happened you ask? Poop happened. My son pooped at every feeding until he was 6 months old. Even to this day, we have multiple poop-filled diapers a day. Cloth diapers plus an infant’s poop is a disgusting combination, and one that we just had trouble dealing with all day long. We gave it a good effort, but we eventually reverted back to disposable diapers and enjoy the ease of them all the while ignoring the guilt of our negative contribution to the environment. I am constantly in awe of moms who cloth diaper. I wish that I had the drive and motivation to continue, but I am an utter failure in the green diapering department.

I recently read an interesting article about research performed on the issue of disposable vs reusable diapers and their environmental impacts. In 2005, a London-based environment agency performed an extensive research study on this topic and concluded that both disposable and cloth diapers have the same environmental impact when you factor in laundering of the cloth diapers. These results supported a Proctor & Gamble funded study executed 10 years earlier that determined that washing a cloth diaper over its lifetime actually uses 6 times more water than it takes to make a disposable diaper. Of course, critics say these results are skewed, especially assuming that cloth diaperers aren’t using a diapering service or energy-efficient washing machines. When we looked into a service, we only found one diapering service near us, and it was not something that fit into our budget. Washing the diapers ourselves was our only option.

At the end of the day, I think that the jury is still out on whether or not disposable diapers are worse for the environment than cloth diapers.  Regardless of the true answer, It’s hard to ignore that staggering number of 450 years for a disposable to biodegrade.  I am looking forward to having potty trained kids.

Frito-Lay Are a Bunch of Wimps

I was appalled as every other environmentally friendly person out there about Frito-Lay giving up on their combustible bag because of noise complaints.    I was planning on blogging about it but decided that it has been blogged to death already.  I will add one comment to this news.  I actually read a blog entry from a woman who refused to eat her beloved Sun Chips because of the noisy bag and is thrilled that with the return of the quieter bags she can eat them in peace.  I think that I actually felt nauseous with disappointment on that one for a few minutes.

No More Bottled Water – Wouldn’t That Be Nice?

This article caught my eye on cnn.com this morning. A town in Massachusetts is banning the sale of bottled water starting in 2011. This town’s motives are purely environmental. The hope is to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles that fill our landfills and the amount of oil used to manufacture those bottles. This article cites a statistic of 17 million barrels of oil needed to produce plastic water bottles. That number is just for water bottles. Think about how much more is needed for producing soda bottles, Gatorade bottles, juice bottles, etc. Next time you’re at the pump complaining about gas prices, I hope that you don’t turn around a take a sip of water from a plastic water bottle.

Trash, Trash, Everywhere

Sometimes when I think about the amount of trash generated every day, I am overwhelmed at the losing battle to recycle and reduce garbage. I remember when I was younger, maybe junior high, maybe even high school hearing that if something wasn’t done, we would run out of landfill space. That frightened me even then. If still frightens me. Of course, new landfills could be created but where would they be? My region of the country has very little open space left, and I hope that that space will continue to be used for parks, farming, and general preservation of green space.
Landfills
I try not to think about mounds of garbage but every once in a while, the reality of how much trash is created every day hits me. This weekend, Steve and I participated in a charity walk. Charity walks are great. Free food and drinks are everywhere. We started off the day with a bagel. Each one was individually wrapped in its own paper bag. That’s not so bad. Paper bags take from 1-5 months to biodegrade. During the walk, we were treated with fruit. Fruit waste is the good kind of trash, so I was ok with that. Of course, along with the fruit was bottled water. It takes 450 years for a plastic bottle of water to biodegrade. 450 years. Just thinking about that is staggering.

At the end of the race is when the real freebie food was accessible. There were hot dogs (wrapped in aluminum foil), pretzels (individually wrapped in plastic), cookies (individually wrapped in plastic) and more and more plastic bottles of iced tea and water. We also got snack bags filled with candy bars, single serving Rice Krispie treats, Twizzlers, and potato chips. Each item was individually wrapped and all the items were put into a plastic bag. Plastic bags are estimated to take anywhere from 500-1000 years to biodegrade. 500 years if the bag is exposed to sunlight.

We made out great in the food and snacks department at this walk, but the landfills did not. In just a couple of hours, this event generated enough trash that will take more than 1,000,000 years to all break down.

Even in our daily lives, we generate more trash than we even realize. I strive to always use reusable containers. We never wrap lunches or food in bags or foil at our house. Knowing that I make a concerted effort every day to reduce my trash generation, let’s examine what trash I do generate. Yesterday for breakfast, I had some instant oatmeal. That oatmeal comes in a paper package, which is trash. Later, I had a snack pack of crackers (a leftover goodie from the walk), which was wrapped in plastic – trash. At lunch, I used a napkin – trash. I used the bathroom several times yesterday and dried my hands with paper towels – trash. For dinner, I made some tofu and fresh green beans. The tofu package – trash and the green beans were packaged in a plastic bag – trash. After dinner, I had another goodie from the walk – a package of Twizzlers wrapped in plastic – trash. That was just me – an environmentally conscious individual.

I’m not here to judge how people live, but I am appealing to all of you. Think about the trash you generate and what you can reduce. Use a reusable container for your sandwich instead of a plastic bag. Use reusable tote bags for all purchases. They aren’t just for grocery stores. Take one to the mall or Home Depot. Avoid purchasing individually wrapped items. Buy a reusable water bottle. Steve and I each have a Nalgene bottle. If you’re worried about BPA, buy a stainless steel water bottle (Costco has a set of 3 available right now). We always fill a bottle before we go anywhere. Even if we don’t drink it, we’ll have it in case we get thirsty. We won’t be tempted to just run into WaWa and buy some water. If everyone makes one small change in reducing their trash generation, a big change will take place.

The Recycling Nazi

Last night, I noticed an almost empty container of blackberries sitting in the back of a shelf in my fridge.  Upon closer inspection, the last of these blackberries was moldy and ready to be disposed of.  I threw the fruit in the sink and the container in the trash.  About an hour later, the Recycling Nazi struck again.  Steve, my husband, had opened the trash can and saw the container,  and I heard, “hey, isn’t this recyclable?”  Believe me, that isn’t the first time he has asked me that question, and it won’t be the last.

To defend myself, we recycle everything possible.  Our recycling allows for cardboard of all kinds, even cereal boxes, paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic that is marked with a 1 or 2.  Since, we don’t buy soda or bottled water, most of our recycling is paper.  Every piece of mail that is tossed is recycled, even the shredded mail.  Every box goes into that bag, including empty pasta, cracker, and other food boxes.  Toilet paper and paper towel rolls – all are recycled in our house.  Our pile of paper recycling is huge every week.   We even recycle the little cardboard tags removed from a new piece of clothing.  Imagine all those baby clothes that I have had to remove the plastic string that attaches the tag.  I throw out the plastic and recycle the tag.   The amount of paper that moves through a house just from daily is remarkable once you start recycling all of it.

It’s the plastic containers marked with a 1 that always gets me in trouble with the Recycling Nazi.  The number is hard to read, and for some reason, I don’t assume a strawberry container is recyclable.  I swear that he opens the trash can sometimes just to look if I’ve missed something and rejoices when he finds it.  At the end of the day, I would rather be married to man who calls out the missed recyclables than one who doesn’t care to recycle anything.  Now, if I can only get him to put those empty toilet paper rolls in the recycling bin rather than leaving them on the bathroom sinks….