Thursday, July 5, 2007

Elke 1st Week

I didn't know what I was getting into when I took over Max's no-trash-for-two-weeks initiative last week. This has been extremely challenging and I wouldn't say that I have been as successful as Max. But, it has certainly been eye-opening and has raised my awareness of trash and how much I pollute. During the first week, I traveled out to Phoenix, LA, and San Francisco, and the whole idea of going into the shpiel and pulling out my plastic plate turned me off. So, I essentially was very hungry (and thirsty) for the first 7 days of this. Then I realized I have to eat - the project would be a failure if I didn't eat. So, I started to get comfortable with the story and confront people more aggressively. Here are my experiences.

Starbucks - Starbucks gives you $.10 off if you bring your own mug AND they give you compliments like "that's cool" or "thanks for saving the environment" That all made me feel good.
Auntie Anne's Pretzels - I said that she could just pass me my pretzel right into my hand and she said "I don't know how you are going to do that." She was laughing and went along with it.
Specialty's Cookies (SF) - Very nice about it, but just didn't really get it. I asked for a cookie with no paper and they scooped it up with the paper, then took it out of the paper, gave me the cookie and threw out the paper. Doh!
Nordstroms - I bought some earrings last week and told them about my project. They guy (who looked 14) agreed to recycle the plastic card the earrings came on but then put the pair of earrings in a card board box with tissue and then tucked that in a plastic bag. Doh!
Victoria's Secret - I had to say "no bag" FOUR times - putting stuff in a bag is so ingrained in their minds.
Giant Grocery Store - Wet lettuce everywhere....
Southwest Airlines - They say they recycle and I hope that is the case because those snack boxes create a ton of waste. OH, I almost forget, NO napkin with my drink. Who needs a napkin with their drink? For the condensation on the bottom of their cup?
California Pizza Kitchen - They were accomodating, but they stand out as a place that creates a lot of waste (any pizza place) because they give you the pizza in a giant box. Is that HUGE box neccessary?
Sit Down Restaurants - This is the way to do it! They use real plates and as long as you clear your plate and ask for no straw, you can get through the meal with no trash at all. If anyone takes the baton after me, I highly recommend sit down restaurants.
Public Restrooms - Most places do not have hand dryers anymore. Yes, I still wash my hands but I "air dry" which takes a long time and I wind up just wiping the water off on my jeans. So I often have wet jeans.
My house - I haven't been throwing out things so there is trash just sitting around, on the counter. Aidan is going crazy. I have pushed the boundaries of which plastic items can go in the recycling bin.
My purse - In my purse, I am carrying the excess trash, which consists of Southwest airlines peanut wrappers, hotel key cards, ear plugs, baggage check tag, and other snack wrappers.

All in all, this is a great project and I am glad that I am doing it. I tell the story as much as possible so that everyone knows about it. Yesterday at a July 4th party, I told the story to 6 people and then one guy went to the bathroom and said that he had the option of either using towels or air dryer. He chose air dryer :)


Gail said...

OK, so I have questions for the both of you. Hi Elke. I am a friend of Max. Both my husband and I are planning to take over the endeavor beginning, July 21. First, do you guys need someone to start next Sat? B/c I think I have someone who is interested?
Now, for all of the trash questions that I have been pondering... First, what about cooking? Yesterday, I made a dish that had a ton of leftover bread crumbs and 1 egg yolk... is it OK to put things down the garbage disposal? I mean truthfully its worse to buy something from a restuarant that you know has been prepared wastefully. Second, what about trash that is not a direct personal production from you? I come up with art and cookig projects for my kids to do in the classroom. I can encourage minimal waste, but I am sure that waste will be accumulated in my classroom. Also, I feed kids, change their diapers... does their waste remain their waste, even though I touch it? And my dogs toileting procedures stay the same, right? I am not producing one giant shit bag, sorry :) Lastly, can you guys just provide some general info... I know most of this but a refresher is always nice, what products are 100% recycable, compostable etc.
Thanks guys and good luck on your second week, Elke!

Max (now Elke!) said...


So glad you guys are taking up the project! Elke is now done (but slow on the blog) and her fiance I believe is starting up now. I have to check. It would be great for you to start up on the 21st or so. If your friends are interested in starting, I would say go for it! I can give them the blog password etc.

As far as your questions, I would answer all of them with - it is up to you! everyone is taking a different spin on the project - I would recommend checking out the other stream that is going at Frog Design ( Everyone is doing it slightly differently.

What I went on to help answer these type of questions, is that I followed my inner bug. If I felt responsible for it, and it was something that I could have stopped with a little forethought, then I felt it was wrong and carried it around with me. There is some stuff that you just cant help. The kids diapers seems like one of them. My sister couldn't finish her meals at restaurants so she let that one go slack.

As far as what is recyclable - not sure really. you may have to do some research online to find what your local recyclers pick up. It is different everywhere. NYC doesnt pick up yogurt containers.

Feel free to email me directly or call.

good luck!!!