Fame and Trash

Yesterday, as most of you know, there was an article in the Globe and Mail about this project. Thank you to everyone involved in the article and to those who read it and responded to my blog! Of course I told all my friends and family that we would be in the Globe and Mail on Saturday, but I didn’t realise it was specifically the Toronto edition, so a bunch of people in
Edmonton and Regina bought papers to see the article and it wasn’t there. Sorry guys. I suggest that rather than just plopping the papers into the recycling bin that you all get together (in your respective cities) and do some paper machier. Perhaps you could make a funky looking container to keep things you will reuse, or a cookie jar or something. At first I thought you could make a trash can, but that’s a bad idea unless the goal is to keep it empty, which seems a little redundant.

Last night I went to a coming back/leaving again party for a friend and got into a huge discussion about nuclear power. A very nice and vehement engineer was trying to convince me that it is really the best environmentally friendly solution. One of the arguments was that in the space it would take to house windmills to make wind power for one city, you could bury all the nuclear waste to make power for at least one country. I’m not an engineer, but something tells me having windmills in my backyard is preferable to nuclear waste, which every time I think about brings the phrase” bad, scary, bad, no, no, no!” screaming through my brain. 

I’m trying to get the Toronto resources and web resources pages done, so it will be easier for all of you who would like to join in the no garbage effort. In the meantime you can wade through the mixture of information, venting and anticdotes that is my old blog (http://people.tribe.net/sarah-cynthia-silvia-stout). I’m still trying to get people to join us in trying not to make garbage for a certain amount of time. Our goal is one month with ZERO, but if you want to do a week, or a month with only making one bag, that’s cool.  The article gave us lots of publicity, but it’s not easy to get people to join. “Hey there, wanna  sacrifice a lot of time, totally change your life style, go without some of your favourite things, and look like a lunatic? It will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it (that’s not exactly a lie, if you just imagine that only Kyle and are ALL the cool kids)” But really, every little bit counts and the more of us who do it, the more impact it will make.  That’s it, pledge drive over.

If you do want to start with us on the 17th, you should eat up any packaged food you have now so you don’t have the containers later. Also if you think you will need something that you absolutely can’t get package-free and can’t live without, buy it now-yes it does seem kind of sneaky, but what can you do.  We are doing it too- we need recharchable AAA batteries which we can’t get without plastic. Grass Roots has bulk AA’s but not others.  Also, I’m going to stock up on my facial cleanser, as it has a tiny little piece of plastic on the nozzle. Oh and vitamins too, because of the seal (not the kind that lives in water and says “ort ort”).  Oh garbage, why are you everywhere?!  I wish I could find a better way.  Any suggestions (other than eating meat to get my vitamin B12 and washing my face with my own urine-sorry, but I just can’t go that far)? 



Filed under starting out, tips, Uncategorized

13 responses to “Fame and Trash

  1. Julia

    Dear Sarah,
    I read about you and Kyle in the Globe this morning, and I am really moved and inspired by what you are trying to accomplish. I tried to do a similar thing with my ex when we lived together. We made a no-take out rule (because of the styrofoam), and I contemplated bringing my own tupperware to places, etc., etc but eventually wimped out at people (including my ex) thinking I was a neurotic weirdo. I got a strange rumbly bad feeling everytime I took off some kind of plastic wrap and threw it in the garbage, and yet it is absolutely true, you have to be willing to totally alter your lifestyle. Well. I am ready to try again. Not so much for the feeling of virtuousness, necessarily, but also because at heart I am very lazy, and I do not like taking the garbage out. The less bags the better ! So I shall be joining you bit by bit– and hopefully one day the industry will catch up to you the way it has to Organics, and it will be the regular route to not produce any garbage at all. Cheers and good luck.

  2. hey Sarah! good idea on the papier machier. I’m going to think of something I need and make it with my Globe and Mail. I’m not sure what I’ll make just yet though. maybe a cutlery holder?

    also, I haven’t driven my car in 6 days! the last time I drove it was Jan 1. I am so glad I moved downtown, close to friends and work. in my old life I drove pretty much every day. maybe after my car is fixed (it goes into the shop tomorrow to have the damage from the hit and run repaired), I’ll see if I can go an entire month without driving my car. I really only drive it to get groceries, but I can get the basics at Shopper’s (half a block away), and take my backpack to Safeway for the rest. I need the exercise anyway. woo!

  3. Carol

    Great endeavour. Hope you build some momentum in having others join you.

    Inspired by your efforts, I’m starting a blog of my own, documenting the garbage I pick up on my daily walks around my town, Aurora. Our streets are trash heaps.

    At the same time, I’m also a little daunted by your campaign. The challenge here is persuade people to recycle and dispose of their hazardous waste appropriately. One of my neighbours regularly bribes the garbage-collectors to take more than the weekly three-bag limit. Her take is that she pays taxes to have (all) her garbage picked up and that’s what she expects to happen.

    Personally, with the help of a composter, my husband and I are down to one shopping bag full a week. But I could never take it to your extent, worrying about the stickers on fruit.

    Another initiative I’m taking on might help you with that: eating locally. I don’t think you’ll find stickers on home-grown produce.
    This was inspired by the 100-mile diet, http://www.100milediet.org. A Vancouver couple ate foodstuffs produced only within 100 miles of their apartment. They’ve got a book coming out about it in the spring, and I’ve asked them to come here for a book-signing in the spring. In conjunction, I’m compiling a list of food producers in our area.

    Can’t see turning away locally produced organic milk to save the landfill space needed by plastic tops in favour of almond and rice milk. First there’s the greenhouse gases produced by transporting those milk substitutes from who-knows-where. And, then there’s the chemicals used to grow them. If I recall correctly, rice-production is one of the top three users of agricultural chemicals worldwide.

    No easy choices. It’s a tangled environmental web we’ve woven, and one not easily undone.

    Thanks for your brave leadership in beginning to untangle one thread.

  4. hey Carole
    Thanks so much. I am also inspired by the 100mile diet and have been trying to eat locally, especially since learning about food irridation. Can you give me the address of your blog? About the milk…. I would buy rice and almonds anyway for my vegetarian diet, and I make my own rice and almond milk, but I do agree it’s kind of silly to turn away the people who are doing good because of minute garbage. That part of the project is less about the environmentalism and more aboutabsolutism and performance art, i think. I don’t know- I’m just determined to make zero for a month to see what it takes-then I will go back to my lovely harmony milk in reusable bottles.
    That’s horrible about your neighbour- I wish it was more strongly policed. Who needs more than 3 garbage bags per week???
    Congrats back to you on your initiative and waste reduction. Can you write back and tell me some of the details about how you did it?

  5. Carol

    Haven’t got an address for the blog, because I just came up with the idea today in response to yours. Will let you know when I have one.

    The waste reduction wasn’t conscious, it just happened. We compost, recycle and prepare most of our own food. We drink water and not much else. I did have a vermi-composter, but moved the worms out to the garden composters. Much easier.

    We’re empty-nesters, so are established and don’t need to buy a lot of stuff. When I do, it’s from thrift stores and I’ve just become addicted to craigslist. If I decide to change furniture, I’ll go there for purchases. Great stuff. Like you, I refuse bags, etc, don’t frequent fast food joints and it all just kinda happens.

    Nothing studied about it. I grew up that way and that’s the way I continue to live. When you come right down to it, we don’t need most of what we have. Maybe we think we do, or we set about acquiring stuff out of boredom. My sister-in-law just came back from three years in Australia and she managed just fine without her walk-in-closetful of clothing.

    I stopped getting newspapers and read them on the net instead or at the library.

    As well, I freecycle. All I can think of for now.

  6. Christine

    Hi Sarah,

    Just wanted to say that I saw the article in the Globe and though I doubt I could get my family of four on a no-garbage diet, you have inspired me. I already do things like reuse plastic bags and take my own cloth bags to the grocery store, but hearing what you were doing to reduce your garbage inspired me to look closer at what I’m bringing into the house. Bravo, and best of luck with your goals.

  7. Aaron

    Sarah & Kyle,

    I read your story in Saturday’s Globe and I’m really impressed. In the last few years, my wife and I have become super conscious of our “waste footprint” and strive to create less waste. For us, between recycling and using our green bin, there really isn’t much garbage (plastic) every two weeks. You’ve inspired us to continually challenge ourselves to buy less packaging – bravo! Good luck with your zero garbage goal.

  8. Jen

    Dear Sarah,

    Just saw the article in the Globe (online) and I salute you! I will be keeping tabs on your blog for tips, and to come to for support and whenever I get frustrated and feel like just giving it all up and not putting in any effort. (I’m a bit embarrassed to list my own ‘efforts’ because they seem like so little.)

    I was reading the previous entry about your letter to the milk company and the bottle cap waste, and it reminded me of an old milk bottle we used to have around the house, with an attached, resealable (rubber?) lid… I have no idea what it’s called, but I managed to find a photo (oh the joy of the internet!) that will give you an idea (link: http://www.threesisterstoys.com/itmimage/jugs.JPG). Perhaps that would be something to suggest to the companies if they respond.


  9. Cristina

    Hi there,

    Re facial cleanser: it’s not a perfect solution, but according to Aveda’s web site (a while ago), they use 100% recycled materials for their packaging, so buying Aveda cleanser isn’t as ‘evil’ (however, it’s damn expensive).

    Also, Body Shop won’t do refills anymore in-store, but the clerks told me they’d do refills at their head office, so you can hang on to containers til when you’re out there for some reason. But I have no idea how they’d refill those little facial cleanser tubes.

    A long time ago a dermatologist told me to use Dove since it’s as good as any other stuff (she said). I emailed the Dove people and they said their soap boxes are 100% recycled cardboard.

    None of this is the same as zero garbage, though…

  10. Heather

    I read the article about you in the paper today. I think what you’re doing is awesome and I’m going to do my best as well. I’m sure you know already but Lush has a lot of really great products (vegan ones too!) that don’t need packaging. You mentioned face cleanser, and I use their Fresh Farmacy facial cleanser. It works great. 🙂
    Thanks for all the awesome tips, I think I’m going to have a fun time coming up with creative ways to not make trash!

  11. Roy Fernandes

    Hi Sarah,

    Like many others, I was thrilled to read the article in the Globe on Saturday. It was great to see an important issue like zero waste actually getting proper coverage rather than just hearing about how we don’t know where to put the garbage. We need to stop worrying about where to put it and just make less the way you are.

    I’ve been working on zero waste at the last two schools I’ve been at. Our biggest stumbling block continues to be packaging. I laughed when I read your story about the sub from subway in your hand. Awesome idea. I’m going to do that next time as well and share the idea with my students.

    I’m sure you’re getting requests from all sorts of people to speak but I was really hoping you’d consider coming in to talk to our students. I’m going to attach the website we made a few years back to give you an idea of SOME of the topics I’m going to be starting with this group. Any feedback you could provide would be great. You’re obviously someone who is tremendously committed to the environment and I would be thrilled if we could get you in.

    Congratulations again.



  12. Roy
    The site you sent me is amazing! I would love to come speak at your school! YAAAAY! Congrats! I will certainly help you how ever I can and any tips you have for me would also be greatly appreciated.

  13. Jerri

    Dear Sarah:
    I am following your blog daily. I’m always trying to reduce our garbage. Its amazing the number of plastic bags and plastic wrapping that accumulates in a week. I take plastics to our local Dominion store where they recycle them.

    Just a thought about the stickers on fruit: I just throw in my composter and I think they compost, I can’t remember seeing any stickers when I use the compost in the spring.

    Keep up the good work.

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