Tag Archives: Trash

Stop Trashing the Planet!

Join us for a seminar on:


An Environmental Forum of Marin (EFM) seminar, co-sponsored by Green Sangha

Sat, Mar 31, 9 am to 1 pm.  Marin Sanitary’s Environmental Classroom, 535 Jacoby St., second floor

In 2000, a Worldwatch Paper estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 synthetic chemicals were in production, with approximately 3 new chemicals being added every day.  Where do all these chemicals go when we are done using them?  The EPA has developed an annual report, the Toxic Release Inventory to help citizens, businesses, and policy makers get a clearer idea of what is going into the environment by the millions of tons every year (see their 1:13 minute video here).

The 2010 TRI report showed that disposal or other releases of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals increased by 50% from 2009.  What does this mean to our health, and to the integrity of life-support systems around the globe?

Come hear Dr. Marion Guyer of Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Chris Pincetich of Sea Turtle Restoration Project, and Monica Wilson of  GAIA (Global Action for Incinerator Alternatives) as they describe the risks posed in particular by toxic substances in plastics used by each of us daily, and by the careless burning of plastics that still occurs around the world.  Then hear special guest Hilary Staples of the Biomimicry Institute share stunning possibilities to help us conceptualize and bring about a shift to life-sustaining materials — quieting our cleverness, listening to nature, and substituting deep knowledge and creativity for synthetics.

Cost:  $20; students with current ID $10

RegistrationSaturday Seminars

How much trash do you make?

This morning I got an e-mail from Dan Jacobson, Legislative Director of Environment California.  Dan’s group helped raise a public outcry when the Governor wanted to close all our State parks for budgetary purposes.  His group also published an important report on Toxic Baby Bottles, showing that five major brands of plastic baby bottle leached the neurotoxin BPA into infants’ milk.   

Dr. Mercola shares this picture of a baby with a polycarbonate bottle. The WHO recommends breastfeeding of babies for the first two years of life. Do we need to be using so many bottles?

 So, when Dan asked for my input on a survey, how could I refuse?  My response is below.  You can respond, too:  http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/action/oceans/member-survey?id4=ES

One of the real heroes of waste reduction these days is Beth Terry (www.fakeplasticfish.com).   You can see what Beth  is doing every day to reduce her trash footprint by watching her 5-minute video on her 2009 plastic trash (total under 4 pounds). 

Beth says, "my new collected plastic for the year comes in at 3.7 pounds," about 2% of the average American's trash.

 Here’s the survey from Environment California, and my replies:


What are some everyday things you do to cut your use of plastic and other trash that might end up in the Pacific?   

I eschew plastic at every opportunity!  I never buy any beverage, oil, cosmetic, or herbal product in a plastic container.  (Plastic lids, however, have become impossible to avoid, even on some glass jars.)    

My friends at Marin Farmers' Markets are really into reusable container of all sorts!

 I buy milk in glass bottles, bread in paper bags (yummy artisan bread), grains in bulk.  I make my own yogurt, too — much easier than I ever imagined.    

 I never use bottles like these! 

What are the most interesting and creative things you do to cut waste? 

 I tally the number of times that we take the trash bin to the curb for pick-up each month.  On a good month, we’re at one pick-up or less.

Today I’m starting Beth Terry’s plastic challenge — capturing every piece of plastic that I am about to throw away or recycle, and keeping it in a bin (I’ll wash food-stained pieces before storing!).  At the end of 12 months, I’ll make a tally and weigh it all.

 What are some common barriers you’ve experienced to maintaining a small trash footprint? 

Packaging is the number one item:  styrofoam cushioning in boxes, hard plastic casing around small office purchases, plastic bags around newspapers even when it’s not raining; non-recyclable, non-compostable milk cartons. 

All this junk. Ugh!


The second issue is the difficulty in repairing or recycling items that break or malfunction.  For example:  flashlights, mugs, school binders, tools. 

What are some ways you help reduce trash at your work, school, church or community center? I have always tried to leave little trash behind.  After a month taking care of a friend’s house in 1996, I had only one small paper bag of garbage to put on the curb (I put it in my neighbor’s garbage can instead).  In 2004 I joined Green Sangha, a group dedicated to helping individuals live more consciously and harmoniously.  The next year, I co-founded Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics campaign.  We have given over 200 talks in the community, educated business owners and employees, consulted with schools on waste reduction, and advocated for civic change.  We helped pass the plastic bag ban in Fairfax, and are collaborating with EcoMom Alliance, iReuse.com, Teens Turning Green, and the County of Marin on the BYOBag Marin campaign. I’m also working with our local middle school, Davidson in San Rafael, on an End to Litter.  Too often, we see things like this bag lying on the ground:   

 What information would make it easier for you and the groups you are part of to cut waste? An itemized list or chart of the costs of throw-away items, in terms of energy expenditure, materials wasted, extraction (mining, logging, drilling), and toxicity, along with the less measurable dimension of non-biodegradability.  Then, a comparison to reusable items of various sorts (sustainable vs. synthetic, for example).