Houston, that’s really embarrassing

July 29, 2008 at 7:47 am (environment, international, random, san francisco)

From an article from NYTimes about Houston’s recycling:

It is the worst recycler among the United States’ 30 largest cities.

Houston recycles just 2.6 percent of its total waste, according to a study this year by Waste News, a trade magazine. By comparison, San Francisco and New York recycle 69 percent and 34 percent of their waste respectively. Moreover, 25,000 Houston residents have been waiting as long as 10 years to get recycling bins from the city.

Yay, San Francisco!  I love San Francisco.  Plus, the city collects compost!  That’s awesome!

Here’s info on other cities:

I guess it’s the NEW YORK Times, which is why they quote the NYC number, but it’s also pretty embarrassing for NY to be so far behind other cities like SF, LA, San Jose, San Diego, and Chicago.  It’s barely above the national average!  And why did they exclude Boston?  Is this a Red Sox thing?

Okay, here’s the update after looking at wastenews.com:

It looks like they cut it off based on population, and the cities in their bar graph are the most populous cities.  Here’s the rest of the list that’s available:

  • Austin 27.3%
  • Memphis 26.0%
  • Fort Worth 22.2%
  • Baltimore 42.0% (That’s unexpected, but that’s not bad)
  • Charlotte 10.6%
  • El Paso 16.0%
  • Boston 15.0% (Boston, you should be ashamed!)
  • Seattle 44.0%
  • Washington 22.0%
  • Milwaukee 24.0%
  • Denver 10.3%
  • Las Vegas 16.0%
  • Nashville 28.0%
  • Oklahoma City 3.0% (It’s a good thing there’s Houston, otherwise, you’d be getting the shameful headline.)
  • Portland 62.0%

Doesn’t seem to be correlated with size.  So that’s no excuse.  Based on the patterns that you do see, my guess is that weather and willpower are key factors for having high recycling.  But Baltimore is pretty high.  As is Chicago… so I don’t think weather can be an excuse either.

You know what other city is doing embarrassing things?  Beijing is erecting screens to hide some areas for the Olympics.  Beijing, we can see the screens and we can tell you’re hiding stuff.  And this whole issue appears to to beyond appearances, so there are other interesting bits in the article.

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Nutritious subsidies?

May 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm (environment, food, politics)

I thought this was a very interesting and telling figure:

2008_05_22-FarmBill.jpg

That figure says a lot all by itself, but if you’re interested in reading more, here’s the blog post that talks more about this figure and the latest farm bill.

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Animal, Vegetable, Cleveland?

April 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm (books, environment, food)

I recommend reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but I don’t recommend reading it when you’re on a trip to Cleveland.

Before reading the book, when confronted with unfresh, unlocal, not-in-season food, I ate it with mostly no issues. It’s not like I had never had yummy fresh, local, and in-season produce before or that I didn’t know intellectually that buying local foods was better. I just didn’t think too much about it and accepted that there were times for convenience and money when I had to eat the bland and mushy tomatoes and the soggy and flavorless lettuce and all the other stuff from our inefficient world food market. Well, I’m inspired by the book. I don’t want to eat yucky food anymore when the yummy food is not only yummier, but also so much better for my health, the health of farming communities, and the planet’s health. The only problem is that I came to this decision in Cleveland and in various airports where the options weren’t great. As I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s stories about all the delicious food she was eating, I had to stare at my bland airport and Cleveland* food. I can’t believe they’re allowed to call those things that I ate salads! I think next time, I will plan ahead and bring my own fruit and veggies to snack on.

*I’m sure there are better options in Cleveland. But I was only there for less than 48 hours and I didn’t know where to look. But I did see my first McCain bumper sticker ever!

Here’s one thing that I had never thought to do before and that I was inspired to do: buy extra fresh fruits and veggies in the seasons when there are lots of options and save them for the winter months. I can stock my freezer with sauces and pestos and containers of fruits and veggies that I’ve chopped and maybe blanched and perhaps even measured out for specific recipes. Maybe I’ll try canning or making jam one day. That allows you to eat local even in the winter months. As Barbara Kingsolver said, “it doesn’t go anywhere while it’s sitting in the freezer, so the food is still local.” Or something similar to that but worded in a wittier way. The only issue is freezer space and the energy to power the freezer. But I’m powering the freezer anyway (I don’t turn the freezer off in the winter months). And I can just buy fewer processed and unlocal and packaged foods and replace those with the yummy stuff that I’ve prepared.

I’m also going to try making fresh mozzarella. It is only supposed to take 30 minutes and it involves lots of playing with gooey and stretchy substances. I love mushing and stretching stuff around, especially if it results in something fresh and yummy to eat.

There’s a website that goes with the book… they have lots of recipes and other stuff.

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Recyling aluminum foil is worthwhile

July 12, 2006 at 2:49 pm (environment)

From Grist:  “Americans are said to throw away enough aluminum in three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.”

“The recycling process uses about 5 percent of the energy of the original processing.”  So why are we buying new aluminum foil and not recycling used aluminum foil?

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I recommend this site

December 15, 2005 at 10:07 am (environment, website)

Great site: www.grist.org

It’s very informative about environmental issues and solutions in an unobnoxious way.

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