Archive for January, 2007

sea glass for sale

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

seaglass.jpg I discovered the lovely North American Sea Glass Association in this article today. It’s a collective of beachcombers selling sea glass jewelry and bulk sea glass all over the world. In fact, the West Coast Sea Glass Association even buys sea glass. Check out all the pretty colors on their handy rarity chart.

passive debris collector

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Earlier this month, Treehugger posted on a floating, trash-collecting dock on the river Thames that “eats trash”.  The simple fix to floating nasties in the water (floating around and collecting them on barge-thingies) is the brainchild of Thames21, a clean water project which, with the help of Riverkeeper volunteers, has made London’s one of the cleanest rivers around. 

cause on a string

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

plastic.jpg Check out these bracelets featured on Great Green Goods, made in Ghana from recycled plastic. They’re right up there with the Ugandan paper beads made from old magazines on my list of favorite gifts-that-double-as-political-talking-pieces.

Which reminds me:

Last week I received another political bracelet, a string of Kenyan grass beads, as a party favor at a fancy gala. To make up for missing my birthday party, a friend rigged an invite for me as a “young leader” to this evening honoring dogooder causes. As a New Yorker and nonprofiteer, it’s not in me to turn down a free drink, let alone an open bar, so after work I threw on a party dress and caught a cab uptown to [an event venue I will not mention here for fear that my labor organizing friends might disown me].

The highlight, for me, was when someone announced that Russell Simmons was in attendance and the eighty-something woman to my right leaned over and asked her son if he was the one who got people moving. “No, that’s Richard,” replied the son.

I’ll spare you details on the speeches, except to share the bizarre and, I found, disturbing fact that the whole event was underwritten by a very large diamond company. Did I miss something, or now that Hollywood has condemned blood diamonds is it ok to fund nonprofit work via their sales?

pipelines to pipe dreams

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

trash.jpg  Japan has to scrap its futuristic system of underground garbage tunnels.  The subterrainian passageways aren’t bringing in the private revenues they once did and thus have become waste themselves (Look out Minneapolis, the Skyway’s days are numbered). 

The tunnels made news earlier this year when some kids from Osaka got stuck inside one.  Of course cash, not safety, is what finally shut them down.

No word yet on whether this will simplify Japan’s complex garbage collection and categorization methods.

Perhaps they’ll just go back to burning it all.

literary trash

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

antiques.jpg  Mark your calendars, next week is book week here at everyday trash.  Starting Monday, I’ll be posting interviews with authors exploring the world through the lens of garbage.

Weekly Compactor

Saturday, January 27, 2007

bushenvironment.jpg  This week in trash news:

sustainable whaling

Friday, January 26, 2007

whaling.jpg  The government of Iceland claims it can hunt whales, sell the meat to Japan, rinse and repeat.  Greenpeace is accusing Icelandic whalers of stockpiling whale meat and hording the blubber like blood diamonds, creating a false sense of mystique and demand.  Having only read the Greenpeace press release on this issue and no third party coverage, all I can say is “sustainable whaling” just doesn’t sound very credible.  There’s not even a wikipedia entry on the “subject”. 

standing in the electronic corner, wearing a dunce cap

Thursday, January 25, 2007

trashcan.jpg  In addition to cracking down on outstanding fines, the city of Boston has decided to post the names of residents who can’t keep their trash under control on the mayor’s Web site.  If your can is routinely overflowing, watch out, it’ll come up when your friends, colleagues, potential employers and worst of all, potential lovers Google you. 

More fun to come when the site goes live!

Update: Looks like we’ll have to wait until March for the names to go up.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

snow.jpg  It’s finally winter, complete with flurries.  The cold has come almost as a relief.  I was getting worried that chilly weather would be one of those things I’d have to conjure up from distant memory to accurately describe to my future children.  I’ve always loved winter.  Because, of course, I can afford to.  I grew up sledding.  And ice skating.  And even skiing, never wanting for mittens, coacoa or warm coats. 

Last night, seeking shelter from the cold, a homeless man in Utah crawled into a garbage can.  This morning that can was collected.  I don’t think I need to go into what happened next. 

I read this absurd and graphic news–a man’s life literally thrown away–in a tiny stub of an online article that did not give the dead man’s name.  A transient, they called him. 

Did it make the print edition of the paper, I wonder? 

How horrible and impersonal to end up a factoid, an easy metaphor, to be blogged.

I posted that bit about beggars in India yesterday with a far away place in mind: somewhere where life means something different, something transient, disposable.

Suffice to say, I’ve never felt more arrogant for loving snow.

Update, the man was identified.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

china.jpg  It’s been a busy week for China’s State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).  First, they laid down the blame for a 2005 chemical spill into the Songhua River.   Next, they take on mother England, joining forces with the EU to crack down on illegal trash imports.  Who knew the People’s Republic was so concerned with environmental justice?

rag pickers

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

rag.jpg The Hindu reported today that rag pickers, beggars who collect trash and sell off reusable bits of it in India, are sneaking into dumps. Toxic contamination can’t keep them out of the rubbage yards and can’t stop them from burning trash in search of metal scrap to sell.

The image of these clandestine fires led me to search the Internet for more rag picker trivia. I found this decent overview describing the tough but honorable profession of collecting what would otherwise be wasted and somehow forging it into a living. And then I found this article declaring recycled bags made by Indian beggars to be all the rage in London.

greenest games ever

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

greengames.jpg London set some environmental targets today to reduce waste at the next Olympic games. A glossy report lays out plans to reduce water use and carbon emissions and to build fewer buildings that will just get knocked down than have past games. The one thing I might question, however, is the argument that choosing to build in the ghetto was the environmentally (or socially) friendly way to go:

The Park is primarily situated on contaminated and derelict land. The landscape of the valley is dominated by past industry and overhead electrical pylons. It is also home to some of the most deprived communities in the country. Three of the Host Boroughs contain the third, forth and the eleventh most deprived wards in the country4. East London also experiences significant levels of unemployment with three boroughs higher than 10 per cent, or roughly twice the English average: with Hackney 16.4 per cent, Newham 13.5 per cent, and Tower Hamlets at 11.8 per cent5.”

Sounds like this community needs a large influx of temporary jobs and heavy traffic!

Weekly compactor

Friday, January 19, 2007

brunei.jpg  This week in trash news:

Waitakere City Council does it again

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

wedding-photo.jpgoff-the-cuff.jpgcastaway.jpg It’s that time of year again, time to honor the creativity of trash to fashion contestants in New Zealand. Thanks to a heads up from reader, Shaun, I see that the Waitakere City Council has posted the 2006 winners of their trashtastic annual competition.

Rats and silence

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

rats.jpg  Apologies for the unannounced hiatus.  Nonprofiteering can wear a girl out and since my boss recently quit and my closest colleague is headed for parental leave next week, the number of meetings I must attend has increased exponentially.  Anyway, I hope you forgive me and continue to check back for updates on the world of waste.  In the meantime, I highly recommend the book Rats.  If you haven’t come across it before, it’s the humorously and laboriously recounted true story of the year Robert Sullivan spent watching rats in the financial district come out at night to eat garbage.  His attention to detail and to irony are unfailing and the chapters are Subway-sized.  I’m packing it in my bag today as I rush back to work. 

Post a comment if you’ve read it.  I’d love to know what you think.  I know I’ve mentioned the book before, but this time I’ve actually read it.  I meant to pick it at the Brooklyn Book Fest, but held out to put it on my Christmas list.  We’ll have to see if the author is available for an everyday trash interview. 

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