Archive for January, 2009

On Being Green at Work

My colleague and I discussed green teams on our way home from a training today – how it’s really important for employees to own “greening” the workplace and come up with their own ideas about ways to save resources.

This green suit by Stacy Adams came from

Today, I discovered three ways work today was not conducive to being green:

1. Having to go to a meeting at a coffee shop that does not serve things in “for here” cups. It’s awkward not to buy something…
2. Having to drive places.
3. Having to pay to park places with exact change. Having to procure said exact change by buying things. Like Kit-Kat bars. Which I eat. And then dispose of the remains.

Of course, there are three ways work is conducive to being green:

1. Paying for a good portion of a bus pas as an employee benefit.
2. Having a refrigerator and microwave in the break room.
3. Providing reusable cups, silverware, and dishes in the break room.

There are others who have thought about this a lot more than I have:
* Jill Velez from Whole Foods discusses ways to green up the workplace (thanks to Regi for the link!)

* Robin from Green Options shares 5 ways to green your coffee.

* Stephanie Rosenbloom and Michael Barbaro for the NY Times chart Wal-Mart’s rise to the top of the (green business heap?)

In other news, don’t forget to shop at thrift stores. You may just find an $8000 work of art.


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Chocolate Bar

Confession: I ate a chocolate bar. With a wrapper.

To appease my guilty conscience, I recycled the outer paper wrapper and turned the inner wrapper into a Valentine.

Here are a couple I’ve made – trying to take this picture really makes me appreciate the good photographers on Etsy. It’s tricky to get good shots of greeting cards. The one in the middle is made out of, you guessed it, recycled CDs. 10 CDs down, 40 to go…

Now I’m off to go unglue my fingers.

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Worm Bins and Potato Chips

Another day, another day without trash..! 3 down, 4 to go.

I almost broke down and went to McDonald’s today. I saw the woman at the security desk with her McDonald’s bag and really, really wanted to take it away from her. But no – I held strong, and remained trashless – and probably added about a week to my heart’s lifespan. McDonald’s marketing people are darn good.

To deal with the compost/veggie scrap situation, my cousin Karen recommended I get a worm bin. This may be my next venture, although I don’t really have a good place to harvest compost. Maybe if I join a community garden in the spring?

In other news, Potato Chip Dave went a whole year making only 30.5 pounds of trash and recycling. Here I was thinking I was so clever with my paltry week without trash! Dave, an L.A. steadycam by day, wanted to show you can reduce your waste while still consuming the potato chips and beer you love – so he did.

image from

Today’s trashless accomplishment: I have now successfully trained myself to use the hand blow dryers – an amazingly tough habit to re-train myself to do.

In bizarre news – if only I could convince my building’s property management company to install poetry in the restrooms like this Japanese experiment, maybe we would all use a little less toilet paper.

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Trashless Weekday

An update from your trashless incipient bag lady:
I have a really impressive collection of last week’s produce bags growing in a cupboard. I need to sew myself some reusable bags out of old T-shirts or cheesecloth or something.

In other news, I have not found the medallion. I did, however, have a delicious trashless dinner:

Grown-Up Mac & Cheese (recipe appears courtesy Eve Thomas)
– Saute diced onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms in olive oil.
– Cook whole wheat pasta.
– Melt cheese with milk and a spoonful of flour.
– Mix together in a casserole dish, top with bread/cracker/matzo crumbs. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

I made it through the work day having thrown away only two sticks of gum – a bad, bad habit held over from my junior high days – and a couple of paper towels when I forgot to use the hand dryer. Oh, and I also threw out a couple of disinfectant wipes at the gym. I tried to leave my treadmill unsanitized and the desk attendant gave me a dirty look.

So we’re up to about a ziplock baggie full of Jenntrash this week.

Things I learned today:
1. I have an instinct to reach for paper towels when things go wrong. It’s like my adult baby blanket.
2. In the end, it’s not really possible to buy anything at Trader Joe’s except apples and lemon curd without creating plastic waste.

Thanks for sticking through this with me.. 2 down, 5 to go!

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No-Waste Grocery Shopping

I love my coop’s bulk foods section – it’s actually cheaper to buy whole wheat pasta, brown rice, granola, etc. Do I sound like a tree hugger much? “Ooh, granola… brown rice…” Chocolate covered espresso beans are expensive – $13 a pound – but totally worth it. Espresso bean treats aside, I spent a lot less on groceries this week.

As my mom is wont to say about my vegetarian diet, “Where’s the protein?!” I have a carton of tofu and about 12 cans of black beans I’m working through from last week… not so much in keeping with my rules, but I’ll make the exception.

The only things I bought in new containers were yogurt (impossible to buy except in plastic tubs), and this fig spread and sheep cheese that came in cute glass jars that I want to pot things in. I returned my Castle Rock bottle for my $1.50 deposit (yesss!) and bought bulk eggs in an old crate.

In other news, I broke a pie plate on its way to Goodwill – the kind of tempered glass that can’t be recycled. Sigh. Klutziness is not green, but perhaps cannot be helped.

For dinner, we got deli sandwiches at Nelson’s – at least we only threw away a piece of wax paper.

Tally so far: grapefruit peels, carrot tops, fallen tortilla, fallen pie plate, wax paper.

1 day down, 6 to go.

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Day Without Trash #1

My first 12 hours of trashlessness: HARD, and not nearly as trashless as I would have imagined they could be.

For one, I have a lot of food sitting around in packages from grocery shopping last week: tortillas in a plastic bag. Cheese in a plastic wrapper. Grapes in a plastic bag. I can keep these bags for my trip to the grocery store, but I already have some pretty bag-ladyish tendencies (see the collection of cardboard boxes under my bed) and very little storage space. I’ll just keep them until I can’t, I guess.

Two, I’m a clumsy person. I drop a lot of things. It’s helping to have a kitchen towel and cloth napkin on hand at all times, but when food goes on the floor…

Three, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to eat at home. Today is busy: between 3-hour choir rehearsal and a fundraiser, Caleb’s going to spend most of the day in a different part of the city. I sent him with a home made veggie platter for choir treats this morning, but didn’t make it to the grocery store to find something for us to eat for dinner en route from Roseville to Como.

Still, so far I’ve only thrown away carrot tops, grapefruit skins, and a tortilla I dropped. If only I had a compost pile..!

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Week Without Trash: Rules

So I’ve been watching and thinking all week about how exactly I’m um, going to do this week without trash thing.

Unlike “giving up chocolate for Lent,” giving up trash is actually going to change important things in my life. Like actually going without chocolate. Chocolate comes in bars, which come in wrappers. Augh! Cheese too!

There is something brilliant though – bulk foods at the coop down the street – that should help. Chocolate covered espresso beans, here I come… (look out, colleagues). I’ve put down my deposit on my milk bottles and cream bottle for the week, also a brilliant solution from Castle Rock Farms.

Also brilliant: I don’t have to worry about being tempted by the box of Clif Bars in my desk because they are being recalled for fear of killer peanuts.

I’m going to give myself a couple of outs. For example:
1. The supply chain. Coffee in the break room at my work is made with individually wrapped coffee grounds and disposable coffee filters. It’s shared among a lot of people, so my responsibility is .. less. Like carpooling. Or that’s the excuse I’m going to use this week. Some other week I’ll go a week without CAUSING any trash, and actually bother to bring the french press into work.

2. Fruit and veggie peels. I know food waste is the biggest portion of municipal solid waste, but there’s no way I’m giving up some of the best winter produce (grapefruit, bananas, kiwi fruit, squash), even just for a week.

3. Eventually disposable stuff that I use for more than a week. I’m focusing a lot on food, but things like toothbrushes, razor blades, etc. – those are allowed.

4. Dental floss, kleenexes, toilet paper.

Outs I will not give myself:
1. Recycling apart from paper. Lots of this ends up getting landfilled by the recycling company anyway, and I’m going to remove the temptation for myself to get takeout plastic clamshells and say, “They’re plastic. They’re recyclable…” With prices for recycled goods in the ditch, I’m going to do my part to create less supply.

2. My boyfriend Caleb has promised to throw anything away for me, and that way I won’t be throwing anything away, right? Wrong!

3. “Reusing” paper and plastic for trash and recycling.

I’ll go tonight at midnight to 12:00 a.m. February 1.


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