Archive for the ‘TRA$H’ Category
A french supermarket chain fights food waste and sees an increase in sales as a result. Hypercool!
Since Iran has been thoroughly eliminated from the competition, and the U.S. has safely passed to the next round, I have through the weekend to watch some good soccer without worrying about the fate of my nations. And that means more time to wonder what happens to all the World Cup trash. This piece on Brazilian catadores sorting tourist trash for recyclable materials warmed by heart.
Even more fascinating, however, is the Pimp My Carroça project, which I discovered via this fabulous CityLab article about street artists making trash cans look like backpacks worn by squat men. From what I can gather, the name translates roughly as “pimp my trash cart” and involves raising the visibility of Brazil’s trash pickers and the challenges they face using creative art projects.
Both the first article and the art collective note that Brazil boasts one of the world’s highest rates of can recycling, thanks in large part to the catadores.
To tell the story of this community, French filmmaker Rémi Pinaud (in collaboration with Pimp My Carroça) hopes to complete his project O Cafofo, or The Castle, a fictional film about a trash picker and his two daughters whose home in a high rise housing project in São Paulo comes under threat when the city starts “cleaning up” to host the World Cup.
You can support the project here.
Zady, the company I told you about in this nepotistic post, is now live. Among the stories behind the brands featured on the site you will find an everydaytrash.com essay on my incredible grandmother who hated waste and who would be so proud of my sister and her friend Maxine for the business they launched today.
I miss my grandmother. This is our second Thanksgiving since she died and though my mother and aunt took over most of the cooking years ago, as the architect of many of our family traditions (and the one who taught us all to cook) her influence on holiday meals endures. We took a few minutes to read through some of her recipe cards yesterday, which include detailed notes to my aunt on how to use every last bit of the bird (use the giblets in soup stock and gravy, but not the liver because it makes the stock bitter, instead the liver should be cooked separately and fed to the baby or made into a delicious spread for the adults). She remains present in every part of the meal from start to the grand finale: it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Grandma’s incredible pumpkin pie full of flavor from freshly ground ginger and a healthy dash of cognac.
As I munch on a slice of that magic for my traditional day-after breakfast, I have been scanning social media and noting alternating updates from friends and family who are either camped out to take advantage of sales or holed up at home abstaining from the consumer madness. Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day, whatever you call it, many of us have gifts on the mind. At the end of our family meal yesterday, we discussed what we each would like for Christmas gifts, whether adults should exchange gifts at all, whether there should be a low price limit on gifts, and closed promising to send detailed wishlists to one another. An email chain with hyperlinks to exactly what we want has become our new tradition. And while this eliminates waste in that it cuts out unwanted presents that would be tossed or relegated to the regifting pile, it also eliminates the charm.
I am reminded again of my grandmother, who one year more than a decade ago declared homemade Christmas and insisted that the gifts we gave one another be things we made ourselves. I still have and cherish nearly everything I received that year: a watercolor rendering of the view from my childhood bedroom painted by my mother, a colorful apron made by my youngest cousin (with significant help from Grandma, but whatever), and a sewing kit put together by my grandmother. It is far and away the most useful gift I have ever received. She decorated a lunch pail with magazine cut outs of a thread and needle and stuffed it with basic sewing supplies: a seam ripper, black, brown, navy and white thread, some embroidery thread, miscellaneous buttons, iron-on patches, thimbles, pin cushions bursting with pins, Velcro strips, safety pins and a pair of scissors. These tools, combined with the knowledge of how to use them (an earlier gift from Grandma, dispensed over time) have been put to use constantly since I received the kit. Knowing how to sew a button, open the sewn-shut pockets of a new coat without tearing it, patch a tear in a favorite pair of pants and remove gaudy brand labels from any item of clothing made me a popular dorm and roommate. Over the years I have added the extra buttons from new clothes and the occasional mini sewing kit swiped from a hotel, but the otherwise have never had to restock.
It may be a bit late this year to spring on my family, but I hope at least some years down the road we revive the homemade holiday. DIY may seem intimidating at first, but even the least crafty person can find a fun project. What are the best homemade gifts you ever received?
A new documentary on the trash picking Zabaleen community of Cairo may peak the horizon. REORIENT, an online magazine featuring Middle Eastern arts and culture, this week profiles director and cinematographer Justin Kramer on the two-and-a-half year process of shooting Zabaleen.
Kramer tells the reporter:
I had to spend a lot of time with these families before they trusted me enough. They’re very marginalised. What they do is sort of taboo, and they were reluctant to open up to an American guy who barely speaks the same language’
A moving and naturally-paced excerpt of the film entitled “Mourad’s Morning” can be viewed on VIMEO, which includes the following description:
Mourad’s mornings are all the same. He wakes up at 2am. Then, he fights to get his sons out of bed for an hour before leaving late for his garbage route in Shoubra.
This piece was submitted and accepted into Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School in London March 2011.
Sounds very promising.
A now-completed Kickstarter campaign includes a brief video message from Kramer and cites the blog The Zabaleen Project as the documentary’s website. It appears to be an interesting compilation of Zabaleen news, including an automated filter for the latest #zabaleen tweets.
Here’s hoping the final product makes the rounds on the film festival circuit and makes its way to screenings we can all attend. In the meantime, to bone up on Zabaleen issues, check out:
- everydaytrash.com’s review of the documentary Garbage Dreams,
- my Q & A with that film’s director,
- the sad incident a few years ago when the government killed all the Zabaleen’s pigs,
- NPR’s coverage of the Zabaleen solar cities, and
- an update on the Garbage Dream boys via an exclusive interview with an everydaytrash.com correspondent.
HONY featured this guy today, which led me to the Facebook page and website of Glide Skateboards, which explain that they make “hand crafted boards made from reclaimed sustainable materials inspired by the graceful lines of surfing.” Check out the links for galleries of gym floors upcycled into elegant rides.
Tangentially related personal story:
These well-crafted boards are a far cry from my first and only skateboard, purchased from a dingy toy store in Harlem overcrowded with cheap plastic toys imported from sweatshops around the world. I wanted a cap gun, the kind the boys in my building used to run around shooting, but my parents forbade it. With regret, I gave up on that campaign and focused my lust on a thick wooden skateboard decorated on the underside with a Bruce Lee-inspired painting of a shirtless Asian man in jeans. I believe it asaid “Kung Fu” above his head, in Kung Fu font.
In retrospect, that skateboard was the first significant purchase I made with my own money. I saved my allowance for weeks and did extra chores for extra coin to reach my goal more quickly. Then, through much whining, I convinced my dad to walk me to the store on his day off and plunked down my money for the prize. I can still picture the shopkeeper taking my Kung Fu board off the display shelf behind the counter and handing it over.
Many happy trips to the park followed, where more often than riding the board upright, I would take it to the top of a hill, sit on it and grip the plastic hand grips on either side as I rolled to the bottom. It functioned mainly as a sled on wheels. It had a large red plastic bumper, which I could activate like a brake by lifting my legs up in the air, leaning back and using my butt to tip the end of the board toward the pavement. Good times.
A couple years later, a friend’s older brother declared my Kung Fu board a piece of shit and proceeded to prove its poor construction by slamming it repeatedly into the stoop until deep scratches stretched across the mildly offensive design and, finally, the flimsy wood splintered and split in two.
I guess the lessons here are that big brothers can be cruel and cheap things never last.
Forgive me, trashies, for I have splurged. Living in Brooklyn is a true test for a lover of upcycling. A slew of boutiques boasting fashionably recycled goods line the path between my apartment and the shops where I buy my groceries. I spotted this Kim White bag at Kaight a week ago and was taken by the Southwest design, even more so when I discovered the designer uses salvaged car upholstery.
From White’s website:
Why are Kim White Handbags so special? Made from vintage automotive fabrics, Kim White uses dead stock never-used textiles intended for use in American automobiles: cars, trucks and vans. She fortuitously unearthed an entire warehouse of automotive fabric, which may be the last existing stock anywhere in the US, and she is the sole owner of these amazing textiles.
I took a photo of the bag, waited a week and went back for it. As luck would have it, Kaight advertised a “shop your values” deal on Twitter so I got a slight break on the steep price. I figure fabric designed for the inside of cars aught to last a while. It’s cute, right?
Look out for a giant recycling bin in Times Square on Monday, 4/30.
According to the news release I just received:
In a show of support for New York City’s pledge to double recycle efforts by 2017, Honest Tea and partners GrowNYC, Recyclebank, Coca-Cola Live Positively, Global Inheritance and Five-Boro Green Services will place a 30-foot tall recycling bin in Times Square and attempt to crowd-source recycle more than 45,000 plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers in ten hours. The plastic bottles collected will be recycled into essential gardening supplies including shovels, watering cans and plastic lumber, which will be used to build and cultivate an urban garden for PS 102, an elementary school in Harlem.
Send photos and comments if you spot it, trashies.
Check it New Yorkers, the city has a site to match commercial waste to people who could put that crap to use and sells it to them on the cheap. It’s win-win: cheap stuff for the citizen, less waste for the city to haul.
The site lists neat stats on total cost savings, tonnes of trash averted and numbers of members and exchanges. The numbers date back to 1998, which leads one to believe this little-known-service has been around for a while but is just now getting a tech refresh. Does your community have something like this?
I got all excited when I downloaded the latest Moth podcast this morning and read the description: “A young man struggles with his role in the family sanitation business.” Luckily, this week’s installment lived fully up to those inflated expectations. It’s a sweet New York story and well worth a listen. Thank you, Terence Mickey, for brightening my morning commute. The outro references a novel in the works called The Gleaners. Trashtastic title, can’t wait!
Last night I stopped by the bank to deposit some checks and was surprised to find all the paper slip slots empty.
Turns out Citibank now lets you stick checks directly into ATM machines without the wasteful and outdated ritual of filling out a deposit slip, adding up the total and sealing them in envelopes. And there you have it, the last bit of math my life required I do all by myself, done.