Friday, March 9, 2012

Thank you, Ms. K. Jacobson!

I concur wholeheartedly with the young Ms. K. Jacobson and congratulate her on her neighborhood garbage sorting quest in order to see firsthand the organic matter that could have been recycled!
It is strange how sometimes a person’s garbage canister speaks more clearly about ecology than the person itself, isn’t it?

We live in a society that is not really very efficient, as it generates thousands of tons of trash and garbage daily on a global scale. To prove our point, all we need do is make our casual, weekly shopping trip to the grocery store. Once we get back home and start putting everything away in its place after unpacking, unwrapping and removing the actual product, we can clearly see that we’re left with a rather considerable mound of either paper, plastic, cardboard, metal or a combination of all, most of it perfectly suitable for recycling. The staggering statistics really begin to add up when that single example of casual shopping is multiplied by the millions of people who are doing exactly the same thing.

But wait!... I haven’t even gotten to the forgotten groceries stashed away at the back of the vegetable bin, such as the mushy celery, the wrinkled-up kiwi fruit we bought two weeks ago, the flaccid carrots, the mummified orange with its greenish patches, or the bunch of parsley on the verge of life support!
Chances are, that we’ll simply gather up the dead greens and toss them in the kitchen’s trash can and be done with it, right?

Unfortunately, yes.

In my particular case my business generates quite a considerable amount of waste paper, primarily letter-size sheets and envelopes. The next greatest amount comes through what I call “recyclable mail”, such as announcements, catalogs, unsolicited mail, occasional periodicals and such. From the domestic side, there are quite a few cans, plastic and glass bottles, plastic shopping bags and cardboard boxes, all usually coming from the now-depleted staples. Happily, though, I can say that my blue recycling canister fills up almost three times as fast as my trash canister and I only pull it to the curb on collection days once every two weeks. That makes for efficient collection as well as fuel savings.

Let’s not forget that another one of the major culprits of these titanic tons of trash, are the manufactured goods that cannot be repaired and therefore must be discarded entirely and a new one purchased to replace it. Examples of it, are the millions of perfectly good writing pens that after running out of ink, are simply thrown away because replacement ink cartridges are not available for them. The same happens with disposable lighters, cell phones, computers and similar items that we are forced to throw away because the manufacturers rather sell you a whole new replacement item rather than make replacement parts for it. The modern automotive industry is a good example of that.

I prefer to believe that we must educate ourselves in rethinking the ways in which future trash and garbage are NOT created, rather than how they are disposed. Going back to the organics, I am grateful that we do have those green canisters into which we can place and safely keep organic material until collection day. Let’s not complain too much about the smell, because when I lift the lift the lid of my trash canister, the whiff could knock me over, especially during the summer months, so I think it’s a very small price to pay, considering the alternative.

Thank you, Ms. K. Jacobson for your very stimulating and important article!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

A instancia de la mamá que quiere ser escritora, mi hija redactó este articulo para Welcome Home, un periodico mensual que se publica en nuestra zona.

Get on the Green Bandwagon
By K. Jacobson
I was very pleased to hear that our neighborhood would be part of the City of San Antonio’s field trial efforts to collect and process organic garbage. I knew first hand how helpful this program could be in our community because during my freshman year, my school science fair project was to find out whether people were truly recycling.
As part of my project, I looked into people’s garbage to gather data. For six weeks, I collected bags and sorted their contents. My findings were rather surprising. The organic material, including fruit and vegetable peels, spoiled produces, tea and coffee grinds, soiled paper towels, cereal boxes and shredded paper accounted for over 40% of the total garbage sample. (Figure 1)
San Antonio’s new plan to collect organic matter will require some additional work when disposing of garbage, but I feel it is well worth the effort. Nevertheless, after talking with family and neighbors about the new green canisters, I hear there is some apprehension or even apathy about joining in. Their concerns are related to the potential smell, mess, maggots and the extra effort and time required, but just as everything else, people need to be educated to understand that on the long run, the benefits derived from this program certainly outweigh the trouble we must go through to see it happen.
If all residential neighborhoods involved work together to support this initiative, a large amount of organic waste will be composted, thus reducing current landfill needs considerably. The community as a whole will contribute to create San Antonio’s path to Zero waste, a ten year goal established by the city in June 2010 .
To find about household items that can be placed into an organic compost system, please refer to: “75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn't” by Colleen Vanderlinden published on, Jul 30, 2009 10:47.