Chosen Futures
  • Styrofoam and Curiosity

    January 02, 2012

    I was walking my dog shortly after Thanksgiving of 2009 when I crossed a trail of polystyrene pellets (commonly known as Styrofoam). It was garbage collection day, so I figured that when the truck picked up the garbage, a packing box tipped or fell and pellets scattered in the wind. Feeling somewhat self-righteous, I picked up a fair number of them, stuffed them in one of the plastic bags I carry for cleaning up after the dog, brought them home, and put them in my garbage – inside the plastic bag. I knew they aren’t recyclable, even in San Francisco, and I knew they don’t biodegrade, so I figured they were better off in landfill than drifting into San Francisco Bay.

    Over the next few days, I spotted quite a few more pellets, and I picked up a lot of them. Some of them were newly scattered, some seemed to be the residue of the first spill. The weeks between Thanksgiving and January 1 are actually high season for polystyrene gathering. A lot of gifts get shipped in that period, many of them are packed in pellets, and a lot of the stuff gets thrown away. The rest of the year there’s far less of it around, although I can usually tell when someone in the neighborhood has had a birthday or is getting married. Picking up pellets and larger pieces of polystyrene packaging has become a hobby for me, or maybe it has become an eccentricity.

    After two years of picking up the stuff, I got curious about how much I gather in a year. Styrofoam 1-1-2012.jpg.JPGIt was late last year, high season for packaging again, and I kept noticing how many pellets I was dumping into the kitchen garbage bag. We’re pretty abstemious about garbage in our home. The City makes it easy by requiring that we pay for garbage collection, but households don’t pay for compost or recycling pickup. So there’s not much in my actual garbage pail, the one destined for landfill. The last few weeks of 2011, most of our trash was the “fruit” of my collecting.

    But in 2012, my harvest is going into a box in the basement, at least until I get a good idea of how fast it piles up. I’m not sure what I’ll learn. I hope it won’t feed my self-righteousness. Maybe I’ll find a way to use my experience to help educate other people about how to throw out polystyrene pellets so they really end up in landfill rather than blowing in the wind. Not creating the material in the first place would be better than putting it in landfill, of course, but the streets of San Francisco are way out on the end of this particular supply chain. I’m not eccentric enough (yet) to start a campaign to ban pellets as packaging. I’ll see where my curiosity leads me, though, and meanwhile I’ll do my little bit to clean up the microtrash in my neighborhood.



Comments

We still have to consider where our eitltrcciey comes from. Lighting consumes the most, so switching to Light Emitting Diode bulbs is the most efficient. A good company is EarthLED. We use LEDs in our campaign to shut down the nuclear power plant just North of Manhattan, Indian Point, which again, two days ago, suffered an emergency shut down. If everyone in New York bought just one LED, that would save enough eitltrcciey to make up for the power Indian Point produces.

Suresh on 10/11/2013 10:11:02 AM

released, but I consider Beth to be a frneid. I met up with her at BlogHer and we joined forces, carrying our disposable plastic plates around so that we wouldn't be adding the landfill at every meal. Her blog, My Plastic-Free Life, is http://choctgnu.com [url=http://yxkqutn.com]yxkqutn[/url] [link=http://lpzyno.com]lpzyno[/link]

Antoinette on 10/13/2013 9:28:01 AM

To see how I make my cake pops, check out this post!a0 I mixed these ones with vanilla fsroting and as usual I go by the consistency of the mixture versus a specific amount of fsroting (as every cake/frosting is a bit unique).a0 I always start with a little bit of fsroting and add a bit at a time to get to the desired consistency.a0 http://nzubuw.com [url=http://qricwocaeay.com]qricwocaeay[/url] [link=http://jtapjq.com]jtapjq[/link]

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