Extra Plastic Bags?

This Coop next to a highly littered bus stop in our neighborhood let me attach my really cool Bag Bottle to their fence in hopes of creating waste awareness while people wait for the bus.

The Bag Bottle is made of plastic soda bottles and stuffed with plastic bags. Dog owners, litter haters, or people who may just need a plastic bag are welcome to give a tug!

I easily collect a bag full of plastic litter everyday on my way to work.  I will be bringing my own so there will be plenty to inspire others.  Our Waste Matters will be starting a block sponsorship for those of us who want to keep plastic out of our environment.

In NYC, we failed to pass Ban the Bag legislation because people with less means would be disproportionately affected.  If their neighbors provided extra bags for them to use at anytime, maybe we could be Bag Free?!

How is your state doing?   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Until next time,

Garbage Girl


Pie Hole Lovers Competition

Even though the following is littered garbage, I enjoy finding the huge variety of plates in their unwanted environments.  Now I see them everywhere.  Passersby and subway riders are stopping to watch me compose the images and some are asking me what I am doing.

Penelope and Martin contributed to this week’s collection so I invite all of you Pie Hole Lovers to send in your photos. ourwastematters@gmail.com











Some rats have been feasting on some of the plates.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

NY’s Bottle Bill Joins The OWM Hall of Shame

A cheap drink made in Brooklyn that is polluting Brooklyn

How does New York’s Bottle Bill work?

New York State’s Returnable Container Act requires every deposit initiator to collect a $.05 deposit on beverage containers containing less than one gallon of carbonated soft drinks, beer, malt beverages, wine coolers or water, sold in New York.

A deposit initiator is the first bottler, distributor, dealer or agent to collect the deposit on a beverage container sold in New York State. You’re a deposit initiator if you:

  • Bottle beverages in beverage containers
  • Distribute beverages in beverage containers
  • Sell beverages in beverage containers
  • Act as an agent on behalf of a registered deposit initiator

Dealers (“retailers”) pay the distributor or deposit initiator at least a 5-cent deposit for each beverage container purchased.

Consumers pay the dealers the deposit for each beverage container purchased. (we pay $.05 to Pepsico and Arizona Teas to litter our environment with every purchase)

Consumers may then return their empty beverage containers to a dealer or redemption center to get their deposit back.

Retailers and redemption centers are reimbursed the deposit plus a 3.5-cent handling fee by the distributor or the deposit initiator for each empty beverage container returned.


What beverages are covered by NY’s Bottle Bill?

Carbonated Soft Drinks, Sparkling Water, Carbonated Energy Drinks, Carbonated Juice (anything less than 100% juice, containing added sugar or water)
Soda Water
Beer and Other Malt Beverages
Mineral Water – Both carbonated and non-carbonated mineral water
Wine Products
Water that is flavored or nutritionally enhanced

What beverages are not covered by NY’s Bottle Bill?

Milk Products
Wine and Liquors
Hard Ciders
Tea  hello@drinkarizona.com
Sports Drinks  there is no contact info for Gatorade
Drink Boxes
Waters Containing Sugar

Let’s look at what is littered on our streets from Gatorade and Arizona Teas.  Both companies do not have deposit agreements with NY. I encounter this litter everyday on my 15 minute walk to work from Clinton Hill to Downtown Brooklyn on Dekalb Ave.


Take a moment to learn which companies have deposits for your state. It makes a difference.

The consumer deposit tax is not the best system to protect our environment but that is a topic for another blog.

Natural Ways To Consume Electrolytes

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Compostable Waste That Will Surprise You

Organic waste being converted into compost at McEnroe Farms in Millerton, NY about 100 miles from NYC. Photo credit: BioCycle

The New York Department of Sanitation has a goal of Zero Waste to landfills by 2030.  Part of this initiative is getting New Yorkers to compost all of the organic waste they generate.  It will apply to approximately 350 of the biggest food generators in the city, including hotels with 150 or more rooms, arenas and stadiums with at least 15,000 seats, as well as large-volume food manufacturers and food wholesalers.

Compo Keeper made a list of 25 items you use everyday that can go into the compost bin!  http://compokeeper.com/25-non-food-household-items-youll-be-surprised-are-compostable/

Be especially aware that plastic fibers, films, and microbeads  will break down, contaminate the compost and possibly enter the environment unchecked.  Plastic fibers from polyester and other synthetic fabrics in our laundry are the number one worst environmental contaminants followed by microbeads.

    • Bamboo Skewers
    • Toothpicks
    • Soiled Pizza Boxes (paper recycling has to reject these)
    • Paper soiled by food and oils
    • Q-tips (not the plastic kinds)
    • Matches
    • Burlap sacks (shredded)
    • Latex Balloons
    • Latex and Lambskin condoms (yes, even used)
    • Holiday wreaths (without any plastic shiny things)
    • Potpourri
    • Nail clippings
    • Natural fiber rope
    • Cellophane
    • Kleenex (yes, used ones!)
    • Loofas (the real ones)
    • Cotton balls (100% cotton)
    • Masking tape
    • White/plain glue
    • Hair from your hairbrush
    • Trimmings from an electric razor
    • 100% cotton tampons and sanitary pads (yes, even used)
    • Cardboard tampon applicators
    • Dryer lint (from 100% natural fabrics only!)
    • Old cotton clothing and jeans (ripped or cut into small pieces)
    • Cotton fabric scraps (shredded)
    • Wool clothing (ripped or cut into small pieces)
    • Cotton towels and sheets (shredded)
    • Pencil shavings
    • Sticky notes (shredded)
    • “Dust bunnies” from wood and tile floors
    • Contents of your dustpan (pick out any inorganic stuff, like pennies and Legos)
    • Burlap sacks (cut or torn into small pieces)
    • Old rope and twine (chopped, natural, unwaxed only)
    • Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pits
    • Soiled Paper table cloths (shredded or torn into smaller pieces)
    • Crepe paper streamers (shredded)
    • Natural holiday wreaths
    • Fur from the dog or cat brush
    • Droppings and bedding from your rabbit, gerbil, hamster, etc.
    • Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird or snake cage
    • Feathers
    • Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits, gerbils, etc.)
    • Dry dog or cat food, fish pellets

Until next time, remember you can eat the entire apple!
Garbage Girl             

Gummy Sidewalk Waste

imagesBen Wilson at least decorates what others thoughtlessly discard.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7GoTJCzqvs

According to an article in Scientific America, chewing gum is edible.  It is not usually wise to swallow it though due to gum-based gastrointestinal blockages.  

images-259% of Americans chew more than 280 sticks of gum per year creating a $19billion world wide industry.  Since most people don’t swallow their chewed gum, a visible amount of it ends up on our sidewalks.   Chewing gum does not break down so it accumulates as the dominant dark dot grounded smooth by pedestrians across our urban landscapes.

Chewing without swallowing has existed since the Neolithic period.  5,000-year-old chewing gum made from birch bark tar, was found in KierikkiYli-IiFinland.  The Greeks chewed mastic gum.  The Wampanoag American Indians who inspired our Thanksgiving tradition chewed resin gum.   The Mayans chewed chicle based gum.

Why chew gum?  The sociobiological implications are not clear.

The people who make chewing gum have long touted it as an enjoyable diversion that gives us white teeth and makes us smile and ride bicycles with our twins.  Many use it for stress relief, to freshen breathe, to overcome food cravings, to make new friends, to get smarter and for the flavor.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewing_gum

Today the chewing gum industry is not even close to the natural plants our ancestors used. In fact, the overwhelming majority of gums are filled with toxic chemicals, artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors all under the ingredient gum base.


Cleaning up the sticky mess left on public spaces poses some time consuming and expensive challenges.  More than other litter which can be picked up or is quickly degraded by the weather, chewing gum, with its glue-like characteristics, is regarded as environmentally damaging.

Independent Singapore was a country with few resources when Prime Minister Lee launched a strict plan to make gum chewing illegal and punishable.  It didn’t take long for the world to recognize the desirability of a clean city.

At Disneyland, the real work starts  after all of the attractions shut down and the custodians begin their nightly chewing gum removal from all of their walks and streets.

The Brits spend $13K a cleaning to remove the gum in Trafalgar Square or three times more than the cost of each stick of gum before it became a blotch.

The Frick Collection, New York’s premier art museum, includes degumming their walks on housekeeping’s job description along with the care and cleaning of its prestigious galleries and library.

NYC  requires property owners to clean and sweep the sidewalks and gutters next to their property, including 18″ into the street but there is no specific law about gum litter.  People can report dirty sidewalks. http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/1064/dirty-sidewalk-or-gutter-complaint

Gum removal is a difficult job that requires power washing machines and lots of water.   GumBusters  are NYC’s experts because they use dry steam.   These guys are my heroes!   http://www.gumbusters.com/en/

In Seattle, they dealseattle-gum-wall1 with gum in a whole different way.   Just stick it on the walls in  Post Alley, under Pike Place Market.

How You Can Help:

  • Discard your gum responsibly.
  • Report sidewalks that need attention.
  • Consider alternatives to gum chewing for healthier lives and cleaner streets.
  • Make kids aware of how gum sticks to everything.

Until next week:      images-3

Garbage Girl

10 cents to less waste

For seven years, a bag tax has been blowing around City Hall.

On Monday, a group of City Council members, environmental groups and fifth graders from Brooklyn New School and P.S. 34 rallied in front of City Hall to urge passage of the tax by April 22nd, Earth Day.

The law would require retail and grocery stores to charge 10 cents for every plastic and paper bag used, or face fines of $250 for the first violation, and $500 for subsequent offenses. If the bill passes, enforcement would begin in January of 2016.

“We want to help everyone in the city make an easy shift to reusable bags.” Margaret Chin said on the steps of City Hall.  She is joined by fellow council members Brad Lander, Donovan Richards, and Public Advocate Letitia James, who all support speedy passage of the bill.

Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, chairman of the Sanitation Committee, said that plastic bags are “an absolute nightmare” for the sanitation system.  Maite Quinn, a representative from Sim’s Recycling, the company which New York City contracts for curbside recycling echoed the point: “We have literally millions of dollars of equipment for the sole purpose of getting plastic bags away from the recyclables that we want.”  She said that in addition to presenting “a range of challenges” at the facility, including clogging recycling machinery and contaminating otherwise recyclable materials, the bags present a particular hardship because there is virtually no market for them. The millions of dollars dedicated to the process of isolating and cleaning used plastic bags, makes a product called MRF film that is essentially useless. “We haven’t had one consistent customer, and that customer is usually at zero price,” she said.

Critics of the bill think the fee is a burden for low-income New Yorkers.

The bill promises to distribute reusable bags.  The ban the bag coalition has already given out thousands of reusable bags around the city, and is prepared to distribute more.  Lander said, “Any New Yorker can reach out to the coalition. We will get New Yorkers the bags they need in order to comply with this law and avoid paying the fee.”

“Plastic bags might pollute the air and we may never see the sun again,” warned one fifth grader.  The adorable kid in the photo below made a sign of bags in trees that says, This isn’t natural.


How You Can Help:

  • Plastic bags can be recycled, but not at curbside.  They can and should be brought back to retail stores. Most NYC supermarkets have bag recycling bins by the front door.
  • Let your council members know how you feel. Find them at   http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml
  • Get in the habit of using reusable bags, put them in convenient places so you have them when and where you need them.
  • Many tiny, weightless reusable bags are available. flip and tumble makes reusable produce bags in sets of 5 from Amazon.com  (Not sure what they are made of though)
  • Inspired by the name given to the one use plastic bag, the kids made their own reusable bags out of T-shirts. You can too!  http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-10-Minute-T-Shirt-Tote/
  • There are so many cool videos, especially for kids, that can be shared with your social media networks or shown at schools and organizations.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vIeyooLfSc
  • Click on and support Ban the Bag.  Their efforts have all ready kept 210 million bags out of the system in Portland and Washington DC alone! http://www.banthebagspdx.com

Until next week,

The planet will Thank You!

The planet will Thank You!

Garbage Girl



Car Wasted by Garbage Truck


In New York we have been under a blanket of snow for most of the winter.  Low temperatures won’t let the snow melt so the curbs are bumpy with frozen reminders of months of accumulating stuff.  The Department of Sanitation is working hard to keep the streets clear.  They are doing such a good job that one of the snow plows got too close to our car.  It took the mirror and put new character into the back quarter panel.  Was it an all nighter for that loyal sanitation worker? Or did we park an inch too far away from an invisible curb buried by mountains of ice from the last storm’s street cleaning?

This morning the sun is out and the night’s snowfall is still a pristine white.  So, while the monster trucks are out keeping the city abuzz, I thought I would entertain you with the power of these trucks and the degree at which their owners revere them.

How You Can Help:

  • Stay off the streets so the Sanitation Department can do their job.  You can imagine how challenging it must be.
  • Pull car mirrors in.
  • Pick up litter as it surfaces.
  • Curb your dogs.
  • Be aware of when the Sanitation Department can and cannot honor your garbage days. http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dsny/index.page

Until next week,

Garbage Girl