Check out these trash bags shaped like kids to raise awareness for street children. PS posting may be light this week, I’m in Zambia with iffy Internet.
Archive for September, 2008
Famous people designed and sold their fancy trash cans recently to help the hungry and children. Check it.
Photo by Sara Jaye Weiss for Startraks, ripped from Media Bistro.
I discovered photographer Chris Jorndan‘s series “Intolerable Beauty: Potraits of American Mass Consumption” via a helpful tipster yesterday. The panel above is ripped from the artist’s stock images on his site and links back there, where you can view a wide selection of his work. I highly recommend a click through.
Here’s some of what Jordan has to say about these landscapes of consumption:
“Exploring around our country’s shipping ports and industrial yards, where the accumulated detritus of our consumption is exposed to view like eroded layers in the Grand Canyon, I find evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress. I am appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination. The immense scale of our consumption can appear desolate, macabre, oddly comical and ironic, and even darkly beautiful; for me its consistent feature is a staggering complexity. “
Last week I had catch-up drinks with Erica Dolland, an old friend from high school who just returned to New York after a couple years working in Ghana. I told her I now have a trash blog. She told me that among other amazing activities she had undertaken since we last hung out, she taught Ghanaian kids to fashion handbags out of the plastic bags water is sold in throughout Africa. And so another trashtastic tuesday was born. Expect to see much more everydaytrash coverage on the privatization of water in the coming weeks. I’m all riled up and have some cool stuff to share.
everydaytrash: How did you get the idea for the project?
Dolland: It was a two-fold interest from needs I identified in the community: environment preservation and income generation. Running water is not accessible in many of the rural areas of Ghana, and its not distilled. Therefore, Ghanaians resort to purchasing water bags to consume drinkable water but then dispose the bags on the ground when finished. I’m a huge environmentalist! One thing that is so captivating about Ghana is that the country occupies a beautiful, serene, lush green landscape. But there are minimal efforts and initiatives dedicated to environmental conservation.
In Ghana, women are also severely marginalized and their employment opportunities are scarce due to a myriad of social injustices. You have a segment of population that can’t participate and is impoverished. I wanted to create a project that would generate income for women and their children, as well as improve environmental conditions.
everydaytrash: Who participated?
Dolland: I opened the workshops to people in the community who were interested in learning how to make the bags to generate additional income for themselves. I had a lot of receptiveness to the project from Ghanaian youth in the community. I don’t think a lot of adults were keen on carrying around former trash, but the kids thought it was cool. I really only expected girls to be interested, since they are groomed at a young age to take interest in catering and sewing activities. Much to my surprise though, boys expressed the same level of interest. I ended up conducting several workshops in the local elementary and junior high schools. The younger students definitely had a harder time, since they weren’t as adept to using a sewing needle–that’s right, no sewing machines here, way too expensive–but they ended up creating a functional bag to carry school supplies in. Their teachers even loved the idea and participated in the workshops.
everydaytrash: Is it ongoing?
Dolland: I was sent to Ghana by an organization called The International Foundation of Education and Self-Help. The over riding mission of the organization is to “help others, so they can help themselves.” When I conceived the project I wanted to make sure it was sustainable after I left. It was mandatory that anyone who participated in the workshop was required to to teach someone else in the community. When people would come to my house asking for one-on-one lessons, I’d say “Nope, find so and so, she’ll teach you how to make it.” It is my hope that people will expand on the basic construction that I taught them to create even more unique bags.
everydaytrash: Sweet. We’ll look out for them!
Workshop photos supplied by Erica. Photo of Erica tutoring ripped from her Facebook page.
Happy Friday. In lieu of a weekend news roundup, I give you an article so ridiculous it stands on its own. According to this dubious report in Pakistan Daily, Chinese companies are recycling used condoms into colorful hair ties. Now I’ve heard of creative reuses for EXPIRED condoms that have NEVER BEEN USED. Fair enough. But used condoms? While I know the claims that a recycled latex hair tie could give someone AIDS are totoally bogus, the psychological factor is just a little tough to get past. For the same reason I would rather wear a sweater knit from sheep’s wool than dog’s hair and would rather fertilize my garden with animal poo as opposed to human manure. It may not make sense—color me urban and sheltered—but I am not in control of my personal ick factor. But I tangent. The whole reason I was googling condoms and recycling and coming across articles like this little piece of comedy is beacuse I’ve been thinking a lot about green sex this week. It’s an uncomfortable reality that latex condoms add up and end up in landfills. The alternatives aren’t great. There are less convenient methods and less effective condoms. In discussing this with a friend this week, we agreed that there’s a real need for biodegradable condom. You know, one that actually works.
[The photo is one I took at the Toronto AIDS Conference in 2006, a close-up of a very fabulous dress.]
This week I got a chance to communicate with Tracey Smith, British journalist and author of the new Book of Rubbish Ideas. I know, I know, it’s Wednesday already and not Tuesday. The tardys are racking up and we’re not even through September…
everydaytrash: I see you’ve founded International Downshifting Week in England. What is downshifting and what’s this holiday all about?
Smith: I put IDW together a few years ago following my own huge downshift back in 2002. Downshifting for me is about giving a positive embrace to living with less and cutting back on your time and finance budgets too.
Remember, the more money you spend, the more time you have to be out there earning it and the less time you get to spend with the ones you love.
Downshifting can have a positive impact on your mental health and well being, your pocket, your relationships and of course, your bin! Living more sustainably means you’ll be encouraged to cook from fresh and put those peelings in the composting bin, which will make a huge difference to what you throw away.
There’s a heap of information on the website – take a look at this site and don’t forget to read the Downshifting Manifesto!
everydaytrash: The Book of Rubbish Ideas will be out soon with ideas for greening every room in the house. Can you leak us a teaser? We read a lot about our bathrooms and kitchens and their impact on the environment. What can we do to downshift, say, our bedrooms?
Smith: That’s really easy! If you take a look at the website for the book, you can read the entire Introduction, Kitchen and Study chapters via a clever magazine gadget thingie – techno really isn’t my bag, but even I could work out how to use it, so it must be simple!
As for bedrooms, some of my favourite tips from the book include:
• Crocs have become one of the biggest-selling shoes. They have a successful recycling scheme in America, and will soon be starting a similar scheme in the UK. Your old Crocs are recycled back into new shoes and donated to people in need around the world. Visit their site for details of the American project.
• Soft glowing, low-energy LED lights are perfect for the whole house and particularly gorgeous in the bedroom. They will save you money and some come with lifetime guarantees on the bulbs/lamps. The oldstyle filament light bulbs or lamps are not recycled yet, but things could change, so check with your local recycling centre ormunicipal site to see what their protocol is and check out Vessel for details of their range of eco-lighting.
• Get your sewing kit out and customise some of your outfits. It’s great fun and easy to do. Find your nearest haberdashers and buy some patches, sequins, mirrors, crystals and braid to liven up your wardrobe.
Smith: Actually, I’m taking a short breather to a tour for the book and am talking to a couple of publishers about exploring other sustinable living topics, so I’m sure the pen won’t be out of my hand for long.
I wholehartedly believe that if we all start making small and simple changes to our everyday lives, we’ll be able to effect enormous change. Not only that, but we’ll also be able to help our children find the right, green groove too.
To buy the book at a reduced rate and to read Tracey’s blog on more Rubbish Ideas, check the site.
Portrait provided by the author, book cover ripped from her site, Indonesian kids w/Crocs ripped from Croc’s Web site.
Note: everydaytrash thinks recycling Crocs is a good idea, concedes that they are comfy for nurses, applauds the company for donating the product in countries where shoes are scarse but is still disturbed by the ubiquity of those strange rubber shoes around Brooklyn.
Organicasm has compiled a handy list of the Top 50 Green Fasion and Design Blogs. [Full disclosure, everydaytrash made the list.]
Click the photo for a closer view of this clever poster by artist Klas Ernflo who points out that shark bites should be the least of our concerns when it comes to underwater mayhem. I like the condom fish and paper bag squid.
E magazine has an intriguing article this month entitled, “Make Love, Not Waste” about greening your sex life. At a cursory glance, I got a little nervous reading about the fact that latex condoms aren’t biodegradable and that hormonal methods may have a negative impact on the environment. The fact is, the condom and the pill are two of the most effective methods out there, helping women prevent tons of unintended pregnancies. And even without getting into the population control argument (more babies make more trash), the simple fact is that avoiding unintended pregnancies in the first place conserves a whole lot of energy. And that, I think we can all agree, is better for the environment. I agree it would be nice if there were ways to have safe sex that didn’t contribute to landfill waste. But until microbicide research moves along, don’t knock the condom! It can’t be beat for convienance at staving off pregnancy AND disease. Luckily, the article came around to similar conclusions. So, check out E magazine. It’s neat. Oh, the article also addresses another important issue, the need for greener sex toys.
It’s been far too long to call this feature “weekly”. But I know you’re a forgiving readership. This week in trash news:
- The Trash King of New Orleans makes millions off of hurricaine clean-up;
- Oregon composts roadkill;
- A dentist in Pennsylvania is caught illegally dumping syringes and other nasty supplies;
- A stinky trash plant leads to popular protests and then a government apology in China;
- Canadian half-marathoners will be forced to carry home their own trash; and
- GM makes big promises to recycle.
Photo of squished porcupine by Sarah Britain via the East Oregonian
A new report published by the Institute for Local Self Reliance lays out the links between climate change and the amount of trash we produce. The central argument made is that a “zero waste approach” or heavy promotion of reuse, recycling and composting, is the most practical way to cut back on the amount of waste we generate that is inturn sent to incinerators and landfills which, as we know, are yucky.
If you’re into scary statistics, here’s one for you: “If we continue on the same wasting path with rising per capita waste generation rates and stagnating recycling and composting rates, by the year 2030, Americans could generate 301 million tons per year of municipal solid waste, up from 251 million tons in 2006.”
Fear not. If policymakers and citizens would just head the recomendations made in this document, the amount of solid waste produced could drop 90% over the same time period, which would reduce the amount of greenhouse gases created by 406 megatons CO2 eq per year. I’m not sure what the unit megaton CO2 eq. refers to, but it sounds significant, doesn’t it? According to the report, it would be the clean air equivalent of shutting down over 80 smoke stackin’ coal burning plants.
I’m interested in your thoughts on the 12-step plan laid out by these good people. Reports full of numbers like this one make fantastic meat, but we have a lot of burgers to sling policy-wise to get this shit into law and daily practice. Here’s a link to the press release.
Note to NYers: the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education is great for practical facts on what the city recycles, hosts random recycling-themed events and is a lifeline to wonky reports such as the one covered in this post. Yay listserves!
Photo of children ripped from the OROE site.
I posted on this once before, when I first discovered this site, but let me say again that Last Night’s Garbage is a truly lovely garblog.
Posts usually consist of an ephemeral photo of New York City trash paired with a deadpan citation from a related reference source. A photo of paper plates and clam shells spilling out of Coney Island trash bin, for example, will be accompanied by an excerpt on the history of quahogs on Long Island. I adore specific projects and Last Night’s Garbage is a blog that does a lot without straying from its mandate. Also, the photography is kick ass. Case in point, this ripped image of a woman sleeping in the East Village.