Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Monday, June 30, 2008

Do you know this man?

This man leaves me speechless. Had I been there for the actual event he wouldn't have gotten away with it and would probably have heard a bit about it from me. (Perhaps a good thing as he is a very large man and doesn't look too friendly).

Now many of you know how much I HATE litterers. Drives me crazy. It is, to me, one of the most disrespectful acts I can imagine to throw your garbage on public property. You might as well be shouting at the world "I'm important and I find ALL of the rest of you so unimportant that I feel it appropriate to throw crap in your face." Because really, whether it is on the train, or on the sidewalk or on the street, this is MY space and Your space and Everyone's space and we have a right to have it as clean and beautiful as possible and have gone through the trouble of developing an intricate method of disposing waste that most find quite easy and convenient to use--and at NO COST! We don't charge you to throw your garbage away in public trashcans and we try to have lots of them out and available for anyone who needs to use one. In reality we ALL pay for these trashcans and the people who remove the garbage from them. We, as a society, consider it important enough that we devote our tax dollars to it; it is there in the same category with road repair, water mains, public education and national defense.

And in recent years we have learned that over half of our waste can avoid going to our already overcrowded landfills, and can reduce our (already too large) energy consumption, and can provide alternatives to using new materials, and can reduce our toxic emissions through recycling. It is another thing that we as a society have come to accept as an important and vital change that we must embrace and that we expect our government to enable and allow us participation in.

So when a member of our community has the level of disrespect and gall to take a recycling container, meant to allow the public the option of recycling their waste, and takes the bag off the container and throws it away in the trash--in order to make more room for his comfort, it is beyond sad, beyond upsetting or disheartening. It makes me angry. I have no words for the pain such a slap in the face causes. Not only is he obviously not going to recycle his own waste, but he is removing from countless others the option that they had to recycle.

If anyone knows who this man is, please dump a large bag full of garbage on his desk. Because this is the space that was filled in a landfill with materials that COULD have been recycled had it not been for his disrespectful act.

And please, feel free to print out a picture of him and put it wherever those who might find him could see it. People like this need outed.

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Recycling Is Sexy

They must know me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Read This!

Sometimes I shudder to imagine paraphrasing or striving even to encapsulate my reaction to something.

Please just go read Wendi's post.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Final Tally Update

I've been trying to buy more environmentally conscious cleaning products over the past year, but with a huge inventory of the standard household cleaners left behind along with an incredibly gross accumulation of what I must imagine is YEARS of shower grime, I've been attacking the bathroom area and the bath/shower in my roommate's old room with gusto. And I am losing the battle. I've probably spent over 6 hours cleaning and several of those scrubbing with and inhaling toxic chemicals and I have to admit that while the shower is now at a level that it doesn't make me shiver at the thought of stepping into it naked it is still not clean. Is there some sort of sandblaster or powerwasher or steam scrubber that can take off years of mildew and soap scum? My arms may be stronger but that seems to be the only real gain so far. The tub and shower wall are still winning.

Oh, and 6 bags of trash, one of recycling, and two for donations have come out of the bathroom so far.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008


In my transition into becoming one of those old ladies who writes letters when they're not happy about something I wrote to Panera Bread--one of my favorite restaurants for a quick soup and salad. I told them how disappointed I was that although so many of their procedures are earth-friendly (reusable dishes and flatware & paper lined trays instead of disposable items) I was a little put-off when I realized my choices for drinks were between a plastic water cup and a styrofoam cup. They were good enough to write back:

Dear Valerie,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Panera Bread. We are actively
seeking ways our company can support the environment, from the materials
we use, to how we recycle and what kinds of products we serve in our
menu items. Although we do not currently have a company-wide standard
recycling program, our bakery-cafes do recycle on a regular basis. We
are also increasing our use of products made from recycled materials
including: our Via Panera catering boxes are made from a certified
renewable resource; we are replacing our cups with certified sustainable
paper; and, we are in the process of replacing our soup containers with
paper containers. Several of our menu items also feature organic

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value
your comments.


Customer Comment Coordinator

Good to hear Panera...I'll see you soon!

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Final Tally

As close as I can figure, since my roommate moved out I(and a few others who have helped) cleared out:

Over 25 bags of garbage and recycling (probably about 17:8)
2 Dressers
3 Side tables
1 Bookcase
2 Director Chair frames
1 Minivan and 2 carloads of belongings to Goodwill.

There is still a "small" (2'x3'x3') pile of stuff to be sorted through, a few boxes that other friends are supposed to pick-up, 1/2 a fridge & 1/2 a freezer to be cleared out and cleaned, as well as an entire bathroom, fully filled with toiletries, blankets, perfumes and other junk. Oh, and a car to be sold.

My landlords were amazing and over a two-day period patched water damage, installed a new light fixture, and repainted and re-carpeted my roommate's old room so that I can move in afresh-(once the fumes clear)

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

p.s. on the new roommate

In helping me clear out the junk of the last roommate I've already taken the new roommate to the recycling center, informed her of what I do and don't bluebag (Glass and paper tend to rip bags and be broken by compacting garbage trucks and are best brought to drop off sites while plastics #1 and tin and aluminum should be fairly easy to sort out from single stream garbage pick-up). She's even expressed interest in joining me in composting!!!

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Shopping Guide

So....having survived the scourge of dust and junk laid upon me by my old roommate and having successfully passed up on taking various items that I "kinda, sorta, maybe might like to have" and instead sending the lot on to Goodwill, I am now in the midst of transporting my belongings from one room to another and am trying to find things to lose along the way.

Along those lines I bring you a handy guide to help you reduce your clutter from its very source:

Some time ago Natural Home magazine featured a guide for how to see through “greenwashing” that asks all the right questions to help us buy less in general and buy greener when we do buy. These are best answered in terms of the product and its packaging:

1. How was it made? Are the materials sustainable? Did it take a lot of energy to make?
2. Is it locally made or did it require a huge amount of energy to get to your local store?
3. Is it built to last for generations and would you want to see it around for generations?
4. Is it recyclable or biodegradable?
5. Is it made of recycled materials?
6. Is it natural and nontoxic?

If after answering these questions, you still want to make the purchase, try one more test. Wait 24 hours and see if you’re still thinking about it. If you aren’t, skip it.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008


Maybe it's just that you don't notice when one stress comes at a time because you can handle it and move on, but it seems sometimes that you never get one stress at a time you get a handful that all pile up at once.

I consider myself pretty laid back. Most people consider me fairly laid back. Most of the time I put off making plans or promises because I like to kind of go with the flow or make last minute decisions. But that doesn't mean I don't like plans and organization. In fact I think part of the reason I hate making promises and plans is because of how much I hate breaking those plans and how much it bothers me when someone breaks my plans.

So I'm stressed right now. Plans have been broken...really broken. My roommate was supposed to move out on Tuesday and fly out on Wednesday morning. I was planning on renting a carpet cleaner on Wednesday and cleaning the carpet in her room so that I could begin moving my stuff into her room by the weekend.

My birthday is on Monday and I took the weekend off of work and then scheduled to be off on my birthday so with my normal days off I would have off Saturday through Wednesday. I've been talking to friends about possibly camping for the weekend or doing some other fun weekend stuff that I don't normally get to do because of work.

My roommate had 5 friends helping her move her stuff on Tuesday. But she continued to go through the 15 years worth of papers and mail and books and receipts and birthday cards and clothes and games and belongings she has amassed at a snails pace while everyone stood around trying to get boxes to load into the truck. The piles of stuff were insurmountable and when we finally decided to leave to head to the truck yard where we had to load a 6'x7'x8' cargo container floor to ceiling her room was still FULL of stuff.

When I say FULL I do not mean a normal person's room full of stuff. The normal person doesn't own as much stuff as was still remaining in her room. There is easily 3-4 peoples' stuff still in her room.

From the cargo yard they went to return the truck...at which point one would think she would return home to pack more. But instead she went dancing. At 2AM she decided that she couldn't finish by 10AM and used my computer to reschedule her flight for a day later.

Wednesday when I wanted to be clearing out her room it was still full of stuff. In addition the upstairs had recycling materials and stuff for Goodwill and bags of trash and an enormous pile of boxes that she had collected over 7 years. I spent the day sorting the recyclables and breaking down boxes and finally had a friend come over and we loaded two cars entirely full and took most of the recyclables to the drop off station. (The bags of computer electronics, and batteries, and old medicines all have different drop off locations so we couldn't do those). When we got to the drop off site we still had to pull pages out of binders and spiral notebooks before depositing them. When we went to leave and go home she told me she was instead going to meet an old boyfriend for dinner...she didn't return home until after I went to bed at midnight.

This morning my roommate told me she is delaying her flight for another day. She believes she can get it all done in one day. I'm looking in her room that is still completely full of stuff and KNOW that she can neither go through it all in one day nor can she have time to do things like take the ever-growing pile of stuff to the salvation army or get a new copy of her car title so that she can donate her car, or take her uncle's computer back to him on the northside of Chicago. So either she will have to delay more, or she will leave it all for me to do. Neither is an option pleasing to me.

My roommate has known she was leaving since January and has been home since March.


At work I have someone I work with who is quite incompetent. She only works a day and a half a week at my store and yet I have at least one customer a week tell me they will never shop with us again because of her. I came in today after two and a half days of heavy labor to face a pile of catastrophes she has created.


My grandmother is sick. She broke her leg and bruised several ribs in a fall last week and went into the hospital. She has gone downhill quickly. She has not been able to swallow and has a feeding tube. They said that when she tries to swallow some of the food is going down the wrong tube and into her lungs. She is not coughing/gagging properly and so the food is slipping down her windpipe putting her at risk for infection and pneumonia. She has been asleep most of the time with painkillers and has developed bad bed sores on her backside. There is a possibility she won't last long.

I had not solidified my plans for my birthday weekend and decided today to book some last minute tickets home to visit my grandmother and family rather than having a party or going camping or rafting or skydiving as I had been considering.


I mourn my plans. I suffer from the loss of my expectations. I want a hug to last a few days and insulate me from the world. I want a large, fluffy, white and sweet marshmallow to envelop me and block out light & dark and good & bad and time & memory. I want to rewind or fast forward or pause or erase. I want to trade places and let someone else take over for a few days of my life. I want to hit and bite and scream and hug and cuddle and collapse. I want release.

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