Archive for the ‘waste’ Tag

Camping Composting   Leave a comment

Oh the joys of camping. We get out in nature where we enjoy the sound of the breeze through the trees, the smell of redwoods, the mesmerizing vision of flame and embers, and where somehow we create more waste than usual. At least some of it is organic waste, and therefore burn-able, so most of us throw it in the fire pit to burn away in the nightly fire. That works great for paper plates and napkins (especially if they’re greasy 🙂 ), but is an apple core doing the fire any good? What about an egg shell? This summer for the first time I decided to compost my wet organic matter and egg shells. On the first camping trip of the summer I felt very self conscious about it. While it felt natural to me to pull out a Ziploc bag and put my bits of vegetables and fruits in it, I also felt a little weird being in a campground with garbage cans yet packing my trash back home with me. It would have felt even more awkward if it had been at a campground with bear lockers. There’s nothing quite like putting a bag of stuff-to-compost in with your food and toiletries. For many backpackers and back-country campers this kind of action is nothing new. In some places you have to pack all your waste out, and I mean ALL your waste. For me, I think this will be a regular practice because it heightened my enjoyment of nature knowing that I was producing that much less landfill waste, that less of an inefficient fire (not that campfires aren’t already very inefficient fires), and that much more luscious compost at home (eventually).

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Posted September 21, 2011 by mayakey in environment

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Reducing Waste By Not Using What’s Provided   1 comment

At my conference this week there was a table out all day with coffee carafes and hot water for tea. It was Starbucks’ coffee so they had the branded paper coffee cups and sleeves out, as well as the plastic lids for hot beverages. On the first day of the conference I was warding off my husband’s cold so I was using the echinacea tea that I brought with me. Since the brewing instructions for that tea are for a stronger infusion to get all of the medicinal qualities, having a covered cup to keep it warm longer is a good thing. On the first morning, therefore, I grabbed one of the plastic lids for that purpose. I did notice that while most people at the conference had lids on their coffee/tea cups, some people didn’t. At some point on the second day as I was preparing myself a cup of tea I caught myself automatically reaching for the plastic lid and realized that I was being wasteful, so I put it back. Since the lids were stacked right in front of me it had seemed perfectly natural to use one, even though I didn’t need it. There was no longer a need for a lid to help make a stronger infusion, and since the conference mostly involved sitting or casual walking between sessions there was not much of a spill risk. Not taking the lid effectively reduced the raw materials/energy/water required for my cup of tea, and also reduced the mass of waste created.

It made me think, though, about all the times that we are presented with something that is not always necessary, and how often we take the thing and use it out of habit or because we forget that we don’t actually need it at the time. Other examples that come to mind are things like straws and condiment packets. Many restaurants bring straws when they bring drinks to the table, even though the glasses had to have been sanitized, and the patrons are sitting at a table where they are unlikely to spill their drinks while drinking them. Sometimes I wonder if restaurants do that because patrons are uneasy about drinking from glasses, they want to reduce the labor for the dishwasher, or some other reason. Most of the time it seems that the straw is just a waste of paper and plastic. Condiment packets are the same sometimes where the person at the counter throws a handful of packets in the bag before handing to the customer. I know a lot of people like to save the unused packets, although I’ve never understood how that is more convenient than a bottle of ketchup, but for those of us who don’t use/save them those packets just go in the trash and constitute a waste of materials/water/energy.

Posted March 20, 2011 by mayakey in conscious living, resource use

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