Archive for January, 2010

A plastic education

Friday, January 29, 2010

This article, which I came across via my friend Oriana‘s Facebook page, might just restore my faith in the Peace Corps. Why? Because Peace Corps volunteer Laura Kutner used her time in Guatemala to lead a local effort in collecting plastic bottles and used them to build a school.

Photo by Laura Kutner via

Thanks, Oriana, you always have the best trash tips!

Greening the ghetto

Friday, January 29, 2010

Watching Majora Carter‘s TEDTalk on the way to work today reminded me why I’m such a big fan of this local environmental revolutionary. She articulates better than anyone what it’s like to live in the “away” other people never picture when they throw things away, the lasting legacy of Robert Moses and the impact his reign over New York City planning and expansion had on her neighborhood and how she has led a community effort to fight back and “green the ghetto.”

On the job

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Collecting trash is a dangerous job. You don’t have to travel to developing countries for examples of why this is true. A Mack truck ran into and killed a sanitation worker this week as he was standing behind his truck in Queens, New York. If you read the comments in this City Room post, you’ll see locals complain that even though this street may have been closed to giant truck traffic, Mack trucks cut through it for convenience. I don’t know yet if that’s true—if the truck that killed this sanitation worker had made an illegal turn or a legal one—either way Frank Justich‘s death was tragic.

Garbage Warrior

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Attn: New Yorkers

UnionDocs is showing Garbage Warrior—the documentary about radical sustainable architect, Michael Reynolds—on Friday, January 29th, @ 7:30 pm. Director Oliver Hodge will be on hand for a Q&A. And at least 50% of the team plans to attend.

Since we first blogged about this film in 2007 and 2008, it has traveled the festival circuit racking up awards. Check it out if you’re in the area and keep an eye out if you’re elsewhere.

Thanks for the tip, Oriana!

WTF, Borders?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dear corporate bookstore owners: you do not trade in trash.

Doomed bookstore

From the HuffPo:

Last month, corporate parent Borders announced they will soon be closing 200 Waldenbooks book stores in communities nationwide. Current Waldenbooks employees have come forward to alert the public that the company plans to dispose of many unsold books in the cheapest, easiest, least responsible way possible – by trashing them.

Read more here. First H&M, now this. Clearly we aren’t doing a good enough job communicating the simple reality that throwing things away is never the cheaper solution. Not in the long run. Ideas on how to better message through the thick skulls of corporate America?

Thanks for the tip, Robin.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

15 Trashspotting blogs” = the Best. Roundup. Ever.

And I’m not just saying that because we made the cut. This listing of “trashspotting” sites on the Construction Management Degree blog includes some of our favorite trashies—Last Night’s Garbage, The Visible Trash Society, 365 Days of Trash—as well as a most intriguing group of newcomers. I can’t wait to check out the Budapest Trashspotting Club.

Stay tuned for a bloated blogroll and reflections on the meaning of trashspotting.

George Orwell in void of thaw

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One of my favourite blogs is The Orwell Diaries; a complete reprint of the diaries of legendary writer George Orwell. A new post is added as long as there was an entry in the diary 60 years ago. Hence, today we learn what Orwell wrote on the 19th of January 1940. It was apparently cold in the UK at the time (as it is now). Orwell had a bit of a conundrum around what to do with his trash:

No thaw. A little more snow last night. Cannot unfreeze kitchen tap but unfroze the waste pipe by pouring boiling water down the straight part & hanging hot water bottle over the bend. Tried to dig a hole to bury some refuse but found it impossible even with the pick. Even at 6” depth the ground is like a stone.

9 eggs.

Polite graffiti

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Decorative Dumpster Day came a little early to NYC when “polite graffiti” artist Finley swung by to wallpaper some trash receptacles.

Courtesy photos

Trashtastic. Thanks for the tip, Erica.

Claudia Borgna

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Little Shiva over at The Visible Trash Society features Claudia Borgna today, an artist whose primary medium is your every day plastic bag. I urge you to take some time to peruse Borgna’s website because her manipulation of these items is extraordinary.Be sure to check out images of her nature installations—billowing bags tied to resemble flowers, pods and other-worldly orbs—and dreamy performance pieces like the one pictured here.

Claudia Borgna

In her statement, the artist describes:

I find plastic bags interesting because of their remarkable contradictory qualities. Plastic bags are in fact both worthless and useful, disposable and recyclable, flimsy and strong, ephemeral and eternal, but above all they are universal.

Thanks, Little Shiva, for this special find.

Trash harbouring in Honolulu

Friday, January 15, 2010

International trash transit seems to have run into some government bureaucracy this week, according to a piece in The Daily News. Apparently, trash shipments from Hawaii to Washington, over the Columbia River, have been suspended due to the need for an environmental assessment plan, including a 30-day public comment. Transports have up until now gone over road and rail, and with the change in transportation mode, regulations kick in. I.e., if you are a reader of and live in the area, you should be interested and here’s a golden opportunity.

While the imports of Hawaiian Waste Systems (based in Seattle) are on hold, trash that hoped to float along the North Pacific Ocean are stacking up in Honolulu docks. Several hundreds of tonnes of trash bales are posing a health threat, says Hawaiian officials. On the other hand, if one trusts a news piece from The Seattle Times written in June 2008, explaining the intended process, it seems as if the risk is minimal.  In any case, the bales are likely to sit around for another two months or so, while the wheel of bureaucracy keep on turning.

Decorative Dumpsters

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ruby Re-Usable has a great post up today on decorated dumpsters and a reminder that later this year we will be celebrating Decorative Dumpster Day for the second consecutive year. Woot.

Reblog: Spectacle

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chandelier made from eyeglasses

From Very Very Fun (via uncomsumption and Dudecraft):

Salvage pioneer Stuart Haygarth has created an eye-catching eyeglass masterpiece, turning discarded glasses into a gorgeously green glowing chandelier. Spectacle is an optical chandelier assembled from 1020 pairs of discarded prescription glasses, with a smaller size constructed from 620 pairs. The refracted light from the lenses makes fluid shadows that play across walls creating an aqueous lighting effect that shimmers as much as it delights.

White elephant party

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My friends Jen and Matt have an amazing Brooklyn duplex, which they are very generous about putting to use to throw fabulous fundraisers. This weekend they hosted a white elephant party to benefit City Harvest.

Host Matt takes bids on BBQ artist Don's donation

For those who don’t know, a white elephant is gift you get but don’t want and City Harvest is an NYC-based nonprofit that rescues 25 million pounds of excess food from restaurants,  stores and farms every year and redistributes that food to hungry families. Both concepts re-purpose what would otherwise be thrown away. By my count that’s double zero waste.

To spice things up, this party began as a silent auction. Instead of trading gifts, we bid cash that would go toward City Harvest. The most and least popular items were then put up for live auction—with numbered paddle bidding and everything, just like Christies. To boost the total at the end of the night, our friend and local BBQ legend Don put a party in his backyard  up for bid.

Final tally: over $1100 raised and unknown pounds of unwanted gifts matched with people who might actually use them. I hope this idea catches on and becomes an annual tradition.

Wedding Cans

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pete and Andrea want to get married and they want a party. Nothing too fancy, just a potluck among friends, some home brew and a sword fight. They estimate they can pay for it all, and raise environmental awareness around their town, in 400,000 cans. They have named their project Wedding Cans and given it a website (via

Pete and Andrea

Cheese grater lanterns

Friday, January 8, 2010

It was my roommate’s birthday last night and to celebrate it a bunch of us went out for fancy pizza at this new joint on Atlantic Ave. I dig their light fixtures, which whether or not they are upcycled or made new are a great idea for reusing an old cheese grater. Might just have to hang an old rusty one in my kitchen.

Cheese grater lanterns at La Pizzetta

%d bloggers like this: