Monday, May 25, 2009

No-Waste Festival Fun

A few days ago, I went to a festival where food and beverages abounded. I've been to the same festival in the past, and knew there would be endless paper plates, plastic forks, and plastic cups. This time, I came prepared! I brought my telescoping cup, which was a no brainer as I carry it pretty much everywhere during the summer. I was less sure what plate to bring, being daunted by the prospect of carrying home a dirty plate at the end of the day. Then, I realized that one of the carryout containers I take with me to restaurants for leftovers would be ideal. The lid meant I wouldn't have to worry about hygiene going to or from the festival, and, as a bonus, I could carry a metal spork inside the container. The container I used is similar to the one in this picture:

Everything went very well. I felt self conscious about my dish, surrounded as I was by people with paper plates. However, the only person who commented on my gear was positive about it. Having my own plate also benefited me right at the end of the festival, when I went to a food stand where there was still a lot of food available that wasn't being served because the stand had run out of plates. As the only nearby customer who still had possession of a plate, I was served a much greater portion of food than I would otherwise have been given.

I'm aware, of course, that there was disposable packaging "upstream" from me. This was brought home to me when a mouthful of food I ate turned out to have a strip of plastic wrap mixed in with it. However, I'm delighted finally to have found a convenient way to avoid paper plates and plastic forks at festivals. I love food-centric events, and anticipate bringing the carryout container and spork with me to numerous events.

Items collected during May 2009

I'm still avoiding picking up recyclables and reusables due to the presence of swine flu in my community. However, I've made a few exceptions:

  • 2 plastic bottles (1 Tropicana Strawberry Melon Juice Drink, 1 Deer Park water)
  • 2 glass bottles (1 Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Coffee Drink, 1 Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey)
  • 1 aluminum can (Bud Ice)
  • 1 instruction manual for a Nokia 6205 phone

  • 2 small plastic bags
  • 1 plastic carrier bag

  • 1 polystyrene cup with a plastic lid and straw (McDonald's)

Most of the items were picked up only because of special circumstances. The Tropicana bottle rolled up and down the bus I was riding for a good 10 minutes, finally reaching the steps and rolling off the bus when the doors opened to let me off. As the only passenger disembarking at that stop, I felt responsible for it. The glass Starbucks bottle was on the road directly in front of a parked car's wheel, and would likely have been smashed when the car was next used, causing a hazard to bicycle riders on that street. The small plastic bags were picked up while I was walking the dog and knew I would likely get to use the bags within minutes. The plastic carrier bag was picked up when I made an impromptu trip to the grocery store and, realizing I didn't have enough shopping bags with me, grabbed a bag from the sidewalk near the grocery store.

The whiskey bottle, beer can, water bottle, Nokia manual, and McDonald's cup were collected after being on the ground for so long that I concluded that any flu viruses clinging to them would have expired days or even weeks ago from exposure to the heat. I've started making a note of the other recyclables I pass so I can pick up those that have been lying around for a day or longer.

I wish the Nokia manual had been picked up by whoever owns the Nokia phone. The manual lay in the street for a long time, and I left it there until rain was imminent.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Recyclables collected Monday, April 27, 2009

  • 3 plastic bottles (1 Deer Park water, 1 Powerade Zero, 1 roadkilled Snapple Fruit Punch)
  • 1 plastic dry cleaning bag

The recyclables listed above are the last I will be collecting for a while. My community is one of those affected by the new flu virus, and there's a chance that some of the recyclables littering the neighborhood will be contaminated with the virus. The chance is very, very low, and if I lived alone, I would continue to pick up other people's discarded recyclables. However, I don't live alone. I live with my family in a home with a single bathroom, and the sink where I rinse recyclables is shared by everyone. I hope the flu panic will be over soon so I can return to picking up recyclables. There have been so many in the days since April 27.