Monday, September 3, 2018

Recycling - A next to last option

Petrecycling (2318529464).jpg

Though it may seem contrary to the title of this blog, today anyone serious about waste reduction should really focus on the "other" R's - "reduce" and "reuse" and also "re-earthing = composting" versus recycling.  Unbeknownst to many Americans, much of our plastic recycling has been going to Chinese markets for many years, and earlier this year, China said they'd had enough and put strict contamination limits on plastic recycling imports.  While there are still markets for some recyclables (Plastics 1 and 2,

cardboard, aluminum and metals), most "recyclable" plastics are now ending up in incinerators and landfills.  Yuk!

So, what's an environmentally conscious consumer to do?

Consider if you really need to purchase something or if you're purchasing because you think you need it, or because it's the trendiest newest trend. (I know that sounds lame, but maybe this exercise will be helpful).  Then, if "yes", you really do need it, shop for something that's used.  There are so many options out there, from Ebay, to Craig's List, to FreeCycle.  I just bought a standing desk in perfect condition for 1/2 price on Craig's List.  And, I bought a Columbia GoreTex jacket for $30.  And, if you're ready to pass some of your belongings along, consider offering it on Craig's List or FreeCycle.  I'm amazed at what people consider treasure! And, while buying second (or third) hand will save you some real money, the added real beauty of these "used" goods is that they usually come package free - so you won't have anything to put in that recycle bin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Straws and Single Use Plastics are having a Very BAD Year.

Plastic straws and other single use plastics are not having a good year.  Cities across the US including Seattle, New York, and even Starbucks and American Airlines have announced that they're being phased out in favor of compostable options.

On Tuesday, July 10, DC made a first jump onto this bandwagon when Councilmember Jack Evans introduced a bill.  The "Sustainable Straws and Stirrers Amendment Act of 2018" would mandate that “ by January 1, 2019, no food service entity shall sell, use, or provide a straw or stirrer
with food or beverage unless the straw or stirrer is compostable.”.

So why are straws and stirrers getting such a bad wrap?  How can using - or not using - one straw make a difference?  According to, Americans alone use 500 million!!! straws per day.  And, they can't be recycled as they're too small.  Somehow, serving straws with a drink became common practice.  Restaurants absorbed the cost, few customers ever contemplated the health impacts of absorbing calories through tube of plastic and our streets, waterways, beaches, and oceans became clogged with this largely unneeded single-use product that when totaled, has become a major world waste stream.

So, don't wait for legislation to come into effect before starting to avoid straws.  Do it now.  If you must, consider a reusable bamboo or stainless option or even go for a paper model.  But, mostly, get that piece of plastic out of your body and out of your personal waste stream.  And, while you're at it, rethink all those other plastic waste streams that you create...and start thinking of ways to phase them out as well.  It's good for the planet, but it's also good for you!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Worm Composting - just do it

This is my worm bin that I bought 
on Craigs List.  But you can make your own! ,
I have worms.  A lot of them.  And they're in the hallway of my home.  Most dinner guests have no idea that they're in the company of hundreds (thousands?) of worms who are also enjoying a meal.   

Why do I vermicompost (compost with worms)?  

Frankly, because I'm amazed by what these small animals can digest and the amazing fertilizer they make.  They're a great conversation filler, and they're ideal for small spaces such as DC houses, condos, and apartments. 

My worms enjoy feeding on the 
Washington Post funny papers.
I was concerned about smells, but with a good mix of food scraps and browns  (newspaper, dried leaves and/or grass) even in these very hot days of summer there's no odor.  

And the compost that these squiggly invertebrates make is amazingly rich!  Just a tablespoon will give your houseplants a boost. (Guess what my friends and family are getting for Christmas?!) 

In the coming months, DC government will offering training and rebates to residents who want to compost and vermicompost.  Stay tuned!

And, by worm composting, you'll be keeping food waste out of the waste stream where it contributes to greenhouse gasses.  Every single action helps! 

As a side note, I've been terrible about posting to this blog, but I'm recommitting to it.  Our environment is under threat like never before - and we need it.  There are many simple and low cost ways to help save the world.