Friday, January 4, 2008

Your own backyard

Since I opened my big fat mouth, yelling in my best Town Crier voice to hear ye, hear ye, bring on the memes, I got smacked with yet another one. Thanks, Mauigirl. Never trust a chick affiliated with an island. That's all I'm saying. Anyway, put on your best clothes, because this one is serious. Really serious. And no smiling. At all. And no lighting up, either. There will be plenty of time for that after we bury this toxic waste. You green enough? Let's see if I am.

For starters, we certainly don't use paper plates and I won't even mention the other kind which is an environmental abomination. Sure, it means more time in front of the sink, but that's fine with me. I take pride in my squeaky clean plates, a nice companion piece, the perfect foil to my filthy mind.

We do, um, er, use paper napkins a good amount of the time. Which I'm sure qualifies us to be put on Greenpeace's Anti-Eco-Terrorist Watch List.

The lowest water settings on the washer? Of course.

Hang drying the clothes? About half of the time.

Car pool or public transportations? You bet.

Newspapers? Recycled.

Aluminum cans? Recycled.

Plastic and glass? Not so much. I really should be making a concerted effort to check into that.

I would like to quote my tagger, because I have the same question myself:

The question I have, however, is this: What is the balance between the amount of trash generated, and the amount of waste of perfectly good trees, embodied in the use of paper plates, versus the energy and water used to run the dishwasher, or in the case of the cloth napkins, the washing machine and dryer? I would need to know which is worse before I commit to this!
For the longest time, when discussing paper vs. plastic, for example, the answer was inevitable. Now, with the increasing usage of recycled plastics (and other materials) used to fashion reusable bags, paper is no longer the automatic answer. How much fossil fuel is used to fabricate, transport and stock these items versus the water and the gas and/or electricity used to heat that water?

Unless we're willing to shack up Neolithic style, even the most staunch environmentalist is going to generate some waste. The key is minimizing that waste as much as possible. I'm much better at it than I used to be, but I have a long, long way to go before I'm permitted to have the scent of patchouli stifling my liberal guilt.

Oh, almost forgot about my victims: Freida Bee, Marjorie, b.


Mary Ellen said...

I have to wonder...doesn't it make more sense to use paper napkins, most of which are made from recycled products, than to wash them and use up water which is a real problem in places like Georgia and other drought areas?

Re-cycling can drive you crazy. I do recycle paper, plastic, bottles, aluminum cans. I even changed all my light bulbs to the new environmentally friendly kind. But, I still water my flowers and my front lawn (according to city regulations, of course). My back lawn, I don't water as much, I'll let that get a little more dry, no one sees it but me.

So, while I'm being very careful with my re-cycling, I see our city offices and corporate offices in the city watering whenever they like, throwing paper, cans, plastic into the garbage and not re-cycling, and they leave the lights on in their offices 24/7.

Randal Graves said...

You just demonstrated why this isn't an easy issue. I'm not saying cut off all water usage, especially in tough areas, or don't water your flowers - hell, we do too - but what galls me the most, like you, is the corporate waste. Whether in a car or the bus, I go by Jacobs Field nearly every day. The lights are ALWAYS on. Always. In January. Um, NO ONE IS FUCKING PLAYING.

Mary Ellen said...

My dog also helps with recycling. She raids the trash cans in the bathrooms and eats any tissue paper she can grab before I catch her. It's later recycled into my yard in the form of fertilizer.See? We don't need recycling plants,just a lot of stupid Labrador Retrievers!

fairlane said...

I've decided to increase my pollution output.

I'm thinking along the lines of those people who claim you can smoke so much weed you stop feeling high.

I'll let you know.

Randal Graves said...

ME, my sister has a dog. It never shuts the fuck up. My asshole neighbor has about three of them. They sort of shut the fuck up. I will suffer the recycling for I will never get a dog. Cats are oh so quiet. ;-)

fairlane, so if I change my oil in my driveway and set the pan on fire and do this as often as possible, I will clear the atmosphere? Ingenious!

Mary Ellen said...

Randal- Get a Siberian Husky, they don't bark...but they'll run away as soon as they get the chance, so either way, you have quiet.

Snave said...

I imagine my two daughters are glad they no longer live with Mrs. Snave and me, because we would constantly be on their cases about taking 30-45 minute showers.

Sorry, man... you have been tagged. Come to my place to check it out, and don't neglect to view the spectacular selection of Pacific NW songbirds.

Dr. Zaius said...

Hey! I must be an environmentalist, just like you. I have a filthy mind as well!

Randal Graves said...

You know the old saying: filthiness is next to cleanliness!

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in California, San Fran maybe, they are charging for plastic bags. I'm too lazy to look up the details so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Freida Bee said...

Mr. Randal, You call hath been answered, and in tenfold, dear. Can I call you that, oh dear giver of the meme?

Candace said...

This is an outstanding idea for a meme!

Mary Ellen, what IS it about dogs and the tissue in the wastebasket? My Scruffybutt does that when I'm gone, so I'm thinking it's some kind of separation anxiety thing. But why tissue?

Randal Graves said...

Frieda Bee, with those go-go boots, you can call me whatever your evil, yet environmentally-conscious heart desires.

Candace, your dog doesn't do that with other materials? Weird. Maybe he or she can smell the owner on it? Or the contents of the owner's nose. ;-)

Mauigirl said...

Good post on the subject, Randal! You're already ahead of me on most of this.

As for that question of how to balance the use of water/electricity for washing vs. the waste of paper in the paper napkin question, maybe the solution is what they used to do at French restaurants in Paris in the old days (and still do at one of them whose name is escaping me at the moment - Polidor I think?). The regular customers had their OWN personal napkins and kept them in little cubbyholes in between uses - still dirty. They used them for several meals before they got washed. I suppose families could do this with their cloth napkins and cut back on the washing as well.

My dog will root in the wastebasket for anything so we have to keep them locked up away from her!

Randal Graves said...

I had no clue that they did that, and that's not that bad of an idea, though getting Americans to cart their own napkins to restaurants will probably not happen in our lifetime. :)

Freida Bee said...

Sure they will, dear; they'll do anything with proper marketing. Call it a hanky.

Jen Clark said...

Corporate waste isn't just office buildings. It's also apartment buildings. Cheap companies running these huge buildings don't want to pay for the personnel time and equipment needed to make recycling convenient (or even possible) for their residents.

I was the assistant manager of a 444 unit apartment building in Los Angeles for a few years. Myself and another one of my co-workers bitched and moaned, wrote letters,and pressured the company to let us set up some kind of recycling option in the building. We were basically asking to find space to put some bins and to arrange a pick up service. Not an impossible task by any means. The answer from corporate was always the same... basically, "Aww, that's cute. No".

These huge cages, I mean buildings, going up all over the place, especially in Southern California should be required to have a recycling mechanism built into the building (trash shoot, can shoot, paper shoot side by side, for instance).

But no. That would be corporate regulation. Unacceptable to the current powers that be.

Jen Clark said...

Also, I'm a relatively new blogger and some of the terminology floating around is going right over my head.

Can someone tell this newbie what a 'meme' is?


Randal Graves said...

Freida Bee, you're certainly right. A freedom napkin!

jen clark, I remember when we lived in an apartment not that long ago and we certainly did not have a recycling program set up of any kind. And a meme in the sense of the internets is just an idea or ideas/questions/anything (there was even a story virus floating around recently - very cool), on any topic that you pass from person to person.

dguzman said...

Randal--nice post! I too hate the way stadiums (and businesses) always have the effing lights on! Idiots!

We do re-use our cloth napkins several times before washing, but still--it's hard to figure out what's best when you factor in all the other costs. Still--I feel a little better about cloth and no-paper plates.

My Inner French Girl said...

Yeek! I got memed and forgot about it! For shame!

Okay, thanks for giving me another post subject to write on. ;-)

I have to admit, though, I could just as easily copy-and-paste your answers, 'cause they're so similar to mine.