Clear Recycling Bags for Free

Every week we put our recyclables out on the curb in clear plastic bags that we have to buy from Glad.  The City requires clear or blue for recycling paper, metal, plastic, glass and compost.   It can get expensive.  Since we need a certain size, there are times when they are not available.

BUT!  If you know someone who goes to the dry cleaner…you have clear bags for free!  Just tie the ends and recycle instead of throwing them away.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Advertisements

I Wish I Could Say It Felt Good

Honoring International Coastal Cleanup Day, Martin and I paddled our kayaks toward Jamaica Bay, an 18,000-acre wetland estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula to the South, Brooklyn to the West, and Queens to the East.  The 10,000 acres of parkland (almost equal to the size of Manhattan)is managed by the National Park Service.  It consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands, and two freshwater ponds, providing a unique environment for both wildlife preservation and urban recreation.  A favorite stop for migratory waterfowl, the area is an essential part of making the larger regional ecosystem complete.

http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/jaba.html

Jamaica Bay was a prime fishing and oystering center but it became so polluted by 1916 that all of those businesses ended.  It took over 5 decades, but the Clean Water Act finally made dumping and polluting illegal by 1972 and the big bay has since made a comeback.  Mussels (still inedible) are now embedded in the reeds along the shores. 50,000 oysters were planted in beds composed of broken porcelain, harvested from recycled toilets as part of New York City’s Water Conservation Program.

The Bay is full of islands and channels whose names have been lost in the mists of time: Point Elders Marsh, Old Swale Marsh, Nestepol Marsh, Grass Hassock, Jo Co’s Marsh, and many more known only by local mariners.  Non are inhabited by humans.

We kayaked to Canarsie Pol with two extra large, clear garbage bags and the intention of making a dent in the amount of plastic washed up on the shore.  All of this plastic was ocean bound trash from storm runoff, boats, the mainland and careless recreational practices while people were out enjoying what nature brings to them but not caring about what they bring to nature.  A lot of this plastic becomes a structural part of the reeds and the beach.

A Ghost Pier Abandoned Long Ago on Canarsie Pol

After 4 hours, along a mere 200 yard stretch of reeds just west of this old pier, we filled 3 large bags (we found another one on the island) with plastic single use items. Mind you, this was only what was accessible to us where the reeds met the beach.  The plastic we could see but could not reach went into the reeds for yards.  Its anyone’s guess how much plastic is buried under the sand.

I wish I could say it felt good to be out on a beautiful fall day picking up garbage.

Plastic bags were so enmeshed in the reeds and the sand dunes that they are now a permanent part of Canarsie Pol. Weathered plastic shattered in our hands as we tried to pull it out of the sand.  The amount of small pieces of styrofoam broken up over time was impossible to collect.  We didn’t even bother with glass or aluminum.

The black bag to the right is filled with plastic lids, shopping bags and single use items.                                                          A third clear bag was left on the island.

Thanks a lot Gatorade. You must feel proud to have your name on this waste.

The third bag had to be tied and securely left on shore for another concerned citizen to bring back to the mainland.  We couldn’t securely attach it to our kayaks and we dreaded the thought of us and the other bags spilling into the bay.

I thought I could at least get a good feeling by knowing that the person who picks up our redeemables each week could make some money.  He told me that all of these bottles are destined for the landfill because the barcodes which are printed on the plastic brand labels are gone.

The beverage companies must stop their practice of making the environment pay for their irresponsible profits.

We must stop giving these companies our hard earned money and our beautiful home.

NYC needs to lead the ban on single use plastic bags once and for all.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Drive Your Car Or Eat?

Global temperatures increasing steadily at their fastest rates in millions of years? Glaciers calving and collapsing into the sea?  The Atlantic Ocean lapping down the streets of Miami?  Extreme weather and massive flooding. Front page news everyday.

Declining soil health may be less dramatic, but it is equally impactful and even more far-reaching. Over time, erosion, pollution, losses in organic matter, and other climate change impacts on the soil will imperil a very basic human need.  Eating.

Founded and chaired by former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is dedicated to catalyzing a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society. https://www.climaterealityproject.org/sites/climaterealityproject.org/files/Soil%20Health%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf?utm_source=advocacy&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=general&utm_content=soil_health_ebook

One of the project authors, Chris Clayton, is the agriculture policy director of DTN/The Progressive Farmer and the author of The Elephant in the Cornfield: The Politics of Agriculture and Climate Change.  He examines the conflict in rural American farming communities over climate change.  “The idea that you could have millions of migrants moving all over the world because they can’t eat, and the disruption and instability created by that doesn’t get enough appreciation around the world.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council has the following guidelines:

1. MESS WITH IT LESS   No-till is a method of farming or gardening successfully while minimizing any physical disturbance of the soil.   Overworked, compacted soil is a hostile environment for important soil microbes.  Chemical or biological additives can damage long-term soil health, disrupting the natural relationship between microorganisms and plant roots.

2. DIVERSITY, DIVERSITY, DIVERSITY   Diversity creates a better, more productive environment for everything.  Different plants release different carbohydrates through their roots, and various microbes feed on these sugars, returning all sorts of different nutrients back to the plant and the soil.  Planting the same plants in the same location can lead to a buildup of some nutrients and a lack of others. By rotating crops, and deploying cover crops strategically, farms and gardens can be more productive and produce more nutrient rich crops, while avoiding erosion, disease and pest problems.

3. LEARN TO LOVE THE RHIZOSPHERE    Every living plant has a rhizosphere; the area near the root where microbial activity in the soil is concentrated.  It’s the most active part of any soil ecosystem.  Providing plenty of easily accessible food to soil microbes helps them supply nutrients that plants need to grow.  Alternating long-season crops or a succession of short-season crops followed by a cover crop and a healthy dose of fresh compost will build out a healthy and diverse rhizosphere environment for your plants.

4. COVER IT UP   Bare soil is bad soil.  It’s important to both allow crop residues to decompose so their nutrients can be cycled back into the soil and to keep the soil protected with cover, because left exposed to the elements, soil will erode and the nutrients necessary for successful plant growth will either dry out or quite literally wash away.  Additionally, the rhizosphere discussed above will starve and diminish without plants to feed it.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering , “Society gains from no-tillage systems on both large and small farms by:

  • much-diminished erosion and runoff
  • less downstream sedimentation and flood-damage to infrastructure
  • better recharge of groundwater, more regular stream-flow throughout the year, and the drying of wells and boreholes less frequent
  • healthier ponds and lakes with reduced phosphorous nitrates leaching into the water from flooding over fertilized fields
  • cleaner civic water supplies with reduced costs of treatment for urban/domestic use
  • increased stability of food supplies due to greater resilience of crops in the face of climatic drought
  • better nutrition and health of rural populations, with less call on curative health services.

After years of severe drought, the state of California, led by Governor Jerry Brown, has developed programs that place a financial incentive on the adoption of no-till techniques and healthy, soil practices.  Exposed, compacted, soil would have washed away during the intense rains California recently experienced.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

The Best Way To Rethink Waste

These are the Top Ten single use items collected, on one day, each fall, when volunteers around the world participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s Annual International Coastal Cleanup Day.  The next one is Saturday, September 16.
https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/

According to the Ocean Conservancy, 275 metric tons of single use plastic waste becomes 100 metric tons of single use plastic waste on our coastlines and 8 metric tons of that single use plastic waste enters our oceans.  With 2 billion people living within 30 miles of our coastlines; we let 1 in 30 single use plastic items enter our world’s oceans.

When you stand in front of that “convenience” store refrigerator, before you reach for that beverage, take a moment to think about what you are actually looking at.

Try one day without buying any single use plastic.  Ask for your deli sandwich to be wrapped in paper and leave the plastic clamshell for the deli to deal with.  They bought it.  Choose a glass or aluminum container for your beverage or better yet, bring a reusable one with you.   If you do find yourself making bad choices or if you are not faster than that lightning-fast deli server, bring all of the trash home with you. Take responsibility for it. You bought it.

Observe the kind of waste you create, and think how you can change to reduce it.

Challenge yourself to reduce your waste each day.  Its really fun!  And you won’t believe how good it feels!

Follow and support the growing number of responsible institutions, states and governments who just stopped being crazy.

Vancouver Aquarium Bans Plastic Bottles

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             

Ziplocks Go Zero Waste

One box of ziplocks will last you a lifetime, honestly!  They are made of plastic so they can be washed, dried and used again and again.  I even put them in the dishwasher.  Don’t be shy. Try!

The benefits of reusing baggies—savings on raw materials, emissions from shipping, and landfill space—make washing worthwhile, says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When plastic bags are reused, fewer plastic bags need to be produced.  The production of plastic bags uses energy, water, and in most cases a non-renewable resource (fossil fuel-derived); reusing bags, even when you use water to wash them out, saves resources overall.”

I am not an advocate for anything plastic around my food.  There are concerns about chemicals leaching into food from plastic.  This is most true during microwaving and you should never microwave or boil food in a ziplock plastic bag.

Washing ziplocks with cold water and soap will get rid of the majority of food contamination in the bag.  But, “if they change color or opacity, I’d say that to be on the safe side, you should discontinue using them,” warns Hoover.   You can also disinfect with vinegar.

The best part about drying your ziplocks is the truly beautiful decorative hooks you can find in flea markets and second hand stores.  Mine holds 5 bags.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Scraps: From Waste To Beauty

The Textile Museum, in Washington DC, is nestled amongst the buildings of George Washington University’s “city campus”.  It is currently showing an exhibit called Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Reuse.   The exhibit features 3 very talented designers who use every scrap in their supply chain to create truly beautiful new fabrics.   The designers are:  Luisa Cevese of Riedizioni in Milan; Christina Kim of Dosa in Los Angeles; and Reiko Sudo of Nuno in Tokyo.  The exhibit was created by The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC.   https://www.cooperhewitt.org/

“George Washington University’s Sustainability Collaborative is a collaboration between the many institutes and centers, the hundreds of faculty and students, and dozens of local and national community partners working to find innovative solutions to the pressing challenges of our times”.

“We strive to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching because we know that sustainability is not something that can be achieved from just one perspective. Partnerships between universities, businesses, non-profits, and governments are vital in supporting new technologies and policy solutions.
https://sustainabilitycollaborative.gwu.edu/

While viewing the exhibit, I started to imagine all of the ways I could make my favorite articles of clothing become a part of this exciting movement.  With only a handful of companies in the fashion and textile trades supporting environmental health, it is increasingly important for us to look at our clothing in a new and exciting DIY way.

One way is darning; a craft once taught to young women, all over the world, in order to extend the life of their families’ clothing.  With such cheap clothing available these days to replace anything that we are simply tired of, its not hard to think that darning is a craft of the past.  BUT!  Darning is an art.  It turns ordinary and worn out into extraordinary and unique!

Jeans are the easiest garments to personalize.  All it takes is a needle, some thread in your favorite colors and the desire to make your jeans truly yours.

        http://imgur.com/gallery/CXWrj/new

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

I Don’t Need 3 Pairs Of Black Cowboy Boots

 

I wear cowboy boots from September to June.  I grew up in New Mexico, so cowboy boots are stylish and come in so many great combinations.  Mostly, though, I wear them because I have size 11 feet, so stylish shoes for women are few and far between.  I can select my favorite cowboy boots from shelves and shelves full of size 9 1/2 men’s size boots!

Cowboy boots are great because they can be resoled forever at a fraction of the cost of a new pair.  Since a black boot goes with everything I wear, I often have more than one pair in different skins, heights or stitching.  If a great new pair comes into my life, I paint the oldest pair a delicious new color!  No one else has these baby blues!

I use a fine natural bristle brush and latex paint.  I buy the paint in “trial sizes” at my local Ace Hardware store.  If the leather isn’t all ready roughed up, I lightly sand the surface with fine grit sand paper.  Carefully paint outside the lines of the stitching and witness your comfy old boots get a dramatic transformation into a new favorite that is uniquely yours.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Save Your Stretched Out Huaraches

Don’t throw away your comfy, broken-in shoes!  Give them a new life for much less money than a new pair will cost.  Plus!  You can avoid those painful blisters you get breaking in a new pair.

My Mexican huaraches are made of a wonderfully soft leather.  The problem is that the leather easily stretches and the shoes slip off of my feet after only a dozen wearings.

I give them a new personality by lacing ribbons through the back heel.  Now, I can tie a beautiful bow over my ankles to keep them securely on my feet for years to come.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Shoes That Last Forever, Guaranteed

Allen Edmonds sells beautifully made, high, quality men’s shoes.

They gained much of their following after providing shoes to the US Armed Forces during “World War II”.  Many of the recipients of those shoes became loyal to the brand for the rest of their lives.

 

 

Allen Edmonds is a moderately expensive brand of shoes that men typically wear for a very long time and repair rather than replace. The company offers recrafting services; rebuilding a pair of shoes, replacing soles and heels, creating a new cork base and strip, and reapplying the finish.

More than ninety-eight per cent of shoes sold in the U.S. are produced overseas.     Allen Edmonds is among a small minority of companies that produces shoes domestically.  Retired chairman and former owner, John Stollwerk, made the company’s commitment to keep their manufacturing in the U.S. in 2003.   The company replaced assembly lines in their factories with teams of craftsmen, each of  whom perform several tasks. Their system makes it easier to cover for absent employees.  It reduces overtime, time spent picking up and putting down shoes, and the number of spoiled shoes during assembly.

Choose companies who have always been committed to making sustainable, morally responsible products.  It feels really wonderful every time you look at your feet.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself bragging about how great your shoe company is because you start to feel like it is your shoe company.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl