Thursday, January 29, 2015

What are You Wasting?

organic waste
In class on Tuesday we were asked to write about our own excess, or in other words what we are wasting. Last semester we started our Intro to Urban Ecology class by looking at a Starbucks coffee cup, and all the hidden energy it took to make it. We talked about the upstream and downstream cycle of the cup including what materials went into its creation and where it went after its intended use.

I will focus on the after the cup is used cycle, and how it relates to what I have wasted over the last 24 hours. The last few days before this class period, I came home almost every day to find our garbage can full of trash. I'd empty it out only to find it full again within 1 - 2 days. Thinking that I didn't contribute much to the flow of trash out of our house, I thought this a well timed observation.  Here is what I "threw away" in the last 24 hours:
  • 1 craft singles cheese plastic wrapper for my sandwich
  • 1 paper towel 1/2 sheet from wiping the counter
  • 1 inch long piece of spinach stem that fell on the floor
  • 1 Rice-A-Roni Box with mix packet for my lunch
  • Gas in my car that idled for 3 mins (before I turned it off. I was pulled over for doing a California rolling stop at a stop sign at 11:56 PM in the middle of nowhere.)
  • Electricity for my laptop as I browsed the internet.
  • Electricity for the fridge I left open while making a sandwich.
  • Extra water as I left the faucet on while rinsing my mouth after brushing my teeth.
Somehow the garbage can was full again after "throwing away" the few things I did. I was still surprised at the excess waste that I found in my life from just letting things run or needless trash. Honestly, I felt helpless as to what I can do to reduce the things I placed in the trash or how they could be reused. That was until I watched the following video:
I looked up projects for recycling in Orem and found their schedule. They pick up recycling every other week and only accept certain things. Those certain things did not include the following:
  • Plastic bags and clear plastic wrap
  • Video and cassette tapes
  • Shredded paper
  • Glass, plates, mugs, and pots/pans
  • Food, liquids or yard waste (like the organics in the video)
  • Food-soiled cardboard, paper cups/plates
  • Carpet, cloth or textiles
  • Used paper towles/tissues
  • Construction/industrial debris
  • Electronic waste
  • Automotive parts
  • Medical/Bio hazardous waste
Some of the items Orem City won't recycle can be picked up by Dunn Recycling, a private company. For those items still not accepted by these two companies there are other sources in Utah that will take the rest. The recycling program isn't fantastic, but the more we use it the more it will grow.

We could do similar to what is being done in New York, by asking to buy city government's organic waste for our own community and home gardens.
If interests in organic material were to increase in the city's eyes, they would work harder to collect more as they are now able to turn a profit. This could be one potential solution, but what are other potential solutions for helping city and state governments to be more recycle friendly?

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I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.