Posts Tagged ‘trash’

Simple Green Ideas

Here’s one. Those annoying clamshell containers.


You all had them, got them and out they go in the trash or recycle.

But wait, what can you use them for?

Have a check of Repurposeful for some ideas.

You can even get the kids involved, check out this video clip. Follow the links at the end, there’s no end of ideas.


Or you can do what I do. Wash them, stash them under the sink and use them for fridge containers for leftovers and cat food.

Beats Tupperware! Because you can see what’s inside and not forget it.

Satireday on Eco-Crap

The trash barrel…

All the rubbish about surfing you ever wanted to know.

Trash Barrel small-thumb-500x333-12491

Source: Can’t remember, but if it’s yours let me know in comments and I’ll attribute.

Change the World Wednesday – 15th May

NZ even has a stamp to commemorate early in the morning

NZ even has a stamp to commemorate early in the morning, I’m sure that’s a photoshop job

I am normally up at ‘sparrow’s fart’, but this morning they haven’t even started yet.

I’m up early because I was listed MIA last week when I hadn’t posted by midday.







This week is a beef-week, but I am doing penance… I was invited to a BBQ on Saturday (beefless week) and I succumbed to temptation… Sometimes it is good to sin.

On Monday, I bought another shark, so Tuesday – Friday, I will pay for my sinning.

I know, I am a terrible person.

Another update.


My goiaba tree growing where it shouldn’t

When I first moved in here and made my little gardens along the fence, a stray goiaba (guava) seed sprouted. I love to watch things grow, so I didn’t yank it out even though it was growing in the wrong place. I let it grow.

It is now quite a healthy brute, and I suspect it will fruit for the first time this season. I am watching for flower buds to form.

Goiaba is a wonderful fruit, it can be eaten, skin and all, straight from the tree, or put in the blender to make a great natural juice that needs no sugar. You must use the filter in the blender because the rock-hard seeds get shattered and make the drink gritty. When you eat the fruit whole, you just swallow the seeds… you’ll only bite them once; it feels like you’ve broken your teeth.


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This week’s CTWW.

It’s a toughy!

Level 1 (The Green Grasshopper) – Eliminate plastic bags. Refuse them at the store and opt for reusable bags instead.


OR …
Level 2 (The Green Warrior) – Refuse plastic bags at the market, find alternates for lining trash bins and refuse any food packaged in plastic.


OR …
Level 3 (The Green Ninja, Amazing Eco-Superstar and Environmental Hero) – Refuse to bring ANY plastic into your home … no bags, no packaging, no plastic personal care items, no plastic furnishings, tools, etc. The exception will be items purchased for health (e.g. medicines).

I’m more like The Green Worm, some levels below a grasshopper. Plastic bags in the supermarket are unavoidable here in most of Brazil. São Paulo, biggest city, has made moves to ban them, it hasn’t reached Rio de Janeiro yet.

When I am doing a small shop, I take my reusable bag, which also gets used at the local shops. But a big shop, if the supermarket is busy they get annoyed when I asked for a carton/s, so I have to accept plastic bags.

The bags here are of dubious quality, sometimes they are strong, sometimes they bust open under load. This requires the bags being doubled up for security. I am constantly berating the baggers for doubling up unnecessarily, like two loaves of bread in a double bag, the bag is not likely to fail under that load; or using bags when other bags aren’t full, or worse, putting one item in a bag. I hate that.


Trash ready for collection

I do use the bags for my trash, our trash collection system doesn’t have an alternative. If I have an alternative, or a carton, I use it. But if you do have a trashcan, they chuck that in the truck too, nothing is sacred.

Our trash is left on the street. In my block, we have a collection point at either corner. We used to have two wheeliebins, but through rough handling by the collectors, two became one, which became none. This is pretty much standard practice throughout the country. So the plastic bags do get reused, but ultimately end up in the landfill, which is the problem.

The other recycle use, is I give them to Raimundo at the botequim (neighbourhood bar) for people to takeaway bottle purchases.

So at least my bags get double use. Which I know is not ideal, but as Brazil is third world, we don’t have the facilities of the first and true ‘greenery’ is made difficult.

Last week I bought a hammer. I was offered one encased in plastic, I refused it and asked for the one hanging on the display without plastic. They appeared to be the same quality tool, the one in the plastic was double the price of the other. Pay for annoying unwanted plastic… é ruim (like hell).

My new shelves

In a rare fit of madness this week, I bought a new set of shelves for the living room.

I don’t usually buy new furniture, I do with secondhand or makeshift stuff. But I took a fancy to this one and have a corner of just the right dimensions to accommodate it. I love the rusticky finish to it.

It will arrive on Friday as a package, almost guaranteed to be wrapped in plastic with each piece separated by bits of polystyrene.

The assemblers will come on Saturday to put it together.

In Brazil you can’t buy ready-assembled furniture, it all comes in kit-set form and assembled at home, so you have no choice. If the furniture is not wrapped in plastic and polystyrene, the chances are high (given the lack of work ethics of the average Brazilian labourer), that your goods will arrive damaged.

So, I can’t claim Grasshopper, Warrior or Ninja status, I am destined to remain a lowly ‘worm’.

Change the World Wednesday – 20th Mar

aprocrastinationI am procrastinating.

It’s something I do rather well.

I haven’t got the onion nor beetroot for pickling yet, basically because apart from work, I haven’t been out of the house due to the rain. I must go today because the fridge has developed a lot of empty space… yes, it’s empty again, which is the reason I ate out last night, yummy BBQ.

I admitted to not doing strategy last week, well, I don’t, but Small’s comment, “Ahh … it seems you do have a strategy, AV … it’s just such a part of your life that it doesn’t seem like planning … it’s what you do and that’s fabulous! It’s the goal for all of us! :-)

Made me think, it is such a part of my life, not by design, rather by necessity.

Here’s an update.


TV waiting for me to deprocrastinate

I had threatened to spring-clean my living room, despite the fact that today or tomorrow (I forget) is the first day of autumn (fall for our American cousins). You see, my ex gave me a ‘new’ TV when I delivered the PC for the kids. For a whole week it sat on my sofa.

Then on Friday I went to town and got an extension cord and a remote control unit. Friday afternoon I was bitten by the bug to do my promised reorg. You see the TV was too big for the previous location, and I had serious doubts that the old PC desk would support the additional weight as this 29″ behemoth was twice the weight of my 20″.

The result was this…


I made a support using an old wardrobe (closet for our American cousins) side and two drawers from another wardrobe. All material that I found discarded on the street. My previous wine boxes (old fruit cases) got stacked around it and pot plants (more added after photo) arranged.

The result is that I have a presentable TV table and it cost me nothing. Unlike many of you, I don’t have the money to go out and buy something new, or even second hand; I have to make do with what’s on hand in the yard. Now the old PC desk is in the yard, it is old and rickety and will go back to the street as trash where I found it four years ago.

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Now for this week’s CTWW challenge.

Every so often Small throws me a googly (a tricky cricket ball, equal to a curve ball in baseball). A googly is basically a ball that doesn’t behave as expected catching the batsman unawares and often resulting in his dismissal (out).

Welcome to SPRING! This week take a walk outside. But we’re not talking about any walk, this will be a walk with a purpose … a walk which goes beyond the obvious “not using transportation” benefit. For example, walk to a library, gym or community center and post some basic green-living ideas on their bulletin board for others to read. Participate in a river, community garden or public park clean-up. Collect litter as you walk and recycle it or deposit it into trash bins. Join a “walk for the environment” … an organized walk to raise environmental awareness or raise funds for a worthy project. The idea this week is to take that one additional step and make it count double.

This is a googly.

Being hampered by my walking stick, I don’t walk as much as I used to, although I do walk to the nearer of my two jobs. The other problem I have is that bending down is also enfettered since I have been consigned to my walking stick.

Before all this, I used to pick up the trash spread around our little praça (park) in front of my house, which is continually being littered by the kids. They are not taught to respect the environment, neither by their parents nor schools.

I do admonish them, if I catch them in the act of littering, and this generally shames them into retrieving their trash and putting it in one of the five bins spread around the place.


Wooden cable drum ends

But, I still collect stuff from the street that I might find useful. In fact, after I finish this post, I am off across the praça to retrieve the end of a cable drum that might well make a good outdoor table top. It’s about the size of the right hand one.

So, eventually, considering my skills at procrastinating, I will have a garden table.

That’s it for this week, not much.

After the cable drum end, I am sure to need refueling and the coffee pot is hot.

Make you Fink on Friday


We have to stop sweeping the inconvenient under the carpet; we have been doing it for too long.

The world’s population has been growing at exponential rates, but this is not only confined to the population. Other things have been growing likewise. Shipping for example, there are more passenger and cruise liners than ever before, there are more fishing vessels, there are more container ships and more pleasure craft.

Maritime pollution is also growing faster than ever before.

We don’t see this the same as on land, because most of us don’t sail, but it is there and it is endangering marine life and the food chain which ultimately ends up on our tables.

What happens to all the trash from these boats?

A lot of it gets dumped in the sea.

The worst example is the Pacific Gyre, a vortex of ocean currents that has created the world’s largest marine trash heap. But it’s not the only gyre in the world, there are five such areas.

The Pacific Gyre, 90% of this trash has been dumped by boats – image: feedlol

The problem will only get worse unless a stand is taken.

Maritime laws must change. If a ship takes so much product on board, then it can be calculated within reason how much trash this product will generate. If a ship returns to port and can’t produce the estimated trash, then it is obvious that the trash has gone somewhere. Ports and boats need to maintain product in/trash out schedules or registers.

Not only trash, but fishing nets and tackle, should all have to be accounted for.

All ships must be made to account for their trash

This idea has to be an international effort, obviously a ship doesn’t necessarily off-load its trash at the port of departure, but it must be able to prove where the trash went, or the ship/company should be fined, and fined heavily; not just a smack across the wrist.

The money from these fines would be used in international efforts to clean up the crap we have already dumped in the sea.

But humanity must get off it’s sanctimonious derriere and be held responsible. Remember, once we have plundered the land to the point where it won’t produce food anymore, the sea is our last resort… if it’s still viable.

Change the World Wednesday – 12th Dec

On a roll, and can’t stop.

Read this yesterday morning…

On the 12th day of Christmas … your gift will just be junk

Every year we splurge on pointless, planet-trashing products, most of which are not wanted. Why not just bake them a cake?

Illustration by Daniel Pudles

There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly-button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub-holder; a “hilarious” inflatable Zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World Map.

They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill. For 30 seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations.

Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that, of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale. Even the goods we might have expected to hold on to are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (wearing out or breaking quickly) or perceived obsolesence (becoming unfashionable).

But many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first place. An electronic drum-machine T-shirt; a Darth Vader talking piggy bank; an ear-shaped iPhone case; an individual beer can chiller; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a dancing dog. No one is expected to use them, or even look at them, after Christmas day. They are designed to elicit thanks, perhaps a snigger or two, and then be thrown away.

The fatuity of the products is matched by the profundity of the impacts. Rare materials, complex electronics, the energy needed for manufacture and transport are extracted and refined and combined into compounds of utter pointlessness. When you take account of the fossil fuels whose use we commission in other countries, manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of our carbon dioxide production. We are screwing the planet to make solar-powered bath thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.

People in eastern Congo are massacred to facilitate smartphone upgrades of ever diminishing marginal utility. Forests are felled to make “personalised heart-shaped wooden cheese board sets”. Rivers are poisoned to manufacture talking fish. This is pathological consumption: a world-consuming epidemic of collective madness, rendered so normal by advertising and by the media that we scarcely notice what has happened to us.

In 2007, the journalist Adam Welz records, 13 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa. This year, so far, 585 have been shot. No one is entirely sure why. But one answer is that very rich people in Vietnam are now sprinkling ground rhino horn on their food, or snorting it like cocaine to display their wealth. It’s grotesque, but it scarcely differs from what almost everyone in industrialised nations is doing: trashing the living world through pointless consumption.

This boom has not happened by accident. Our lives have been corralled and shaped in order to encourage it. World trade rules force countries to participate in the festival of junk. Governments cut taxes, deregulate business, manipulate interest rates to stimulate spending. But seldom do the engineers of these policies stop and ask, “spending on what?” When every conceivable want and need has been met (among those who have disposable money), growth depends on selling the utterly useless. The solemnity of the state, its might and majesty, are harnessed to the task of delivering Terry the Swearing Turtle to our doors.

Grown men and women devote their lives to manufacturing and marketing this rubbish, and dissing the idea of living without it. “I always knit my gifts,” says a woman in a TV ad for an electronics outlet. “Well you shouldn’t,” replies the narrator. An ad for a Google tablet shows a father and son camping in the woods. Their enjoyment depends on the Nexus 7’s special features. The best things in life are free, but we’ve found a way of selling them to you.

The growth of inequality that has accompanied the consumer boom ensures that the rising economic tide no longer lifts all boats. In the US in 2010, a remarkable 93% of the growth in incomes accrued to the top 1% of the population. The old excuse, that we must trash the planet to help the poor, simply does not wash. For a few decades of extra enrichment for those who already possess more money than they know how to spend, the prospects of everyone else who will live on this Earth are diminished.

So effectively have governments, the media and advertisers associated consumption with prosperity and happiness that to say these things is to expose yourself to opprobrium and ridicule. Witness last week’s edition of Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, in which most of the panel lined up to decry the idea of consuming less, and to associate it somehow with authoritarianism. When the world goes mad, those who resist are denounced as lunatics.

Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for God’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows is that you don’t.

George Monbiot

How right he is, we are literally trashing the planet to buy and give presents that are, in the main, useless trash.

The challenge

Show that you care this Christmas, find some alternative way of showing that you care.


If you must give a present, make something from recycled materials.

Change the World Wednesday – 18th April

Time Flies - I found this on a photoshop contest, I've probably broken every copyright rule in the book, but you see more hre.

Wow, the week has gone fast… again.

I find that as I get older times flies. It does, much faster than it used to. It seems only a short time ago that I used to comment on how fast the years went. Now I’m measuring the lightning speed of each week.

This week is weird. Monday, was normal, until the moment I put my foot out the door. Tue – Fri I have split days; yes, almost a week where I go to work twice in the same day. That’s incredibly tedious. I have already been to work, 7am start, and I have been back home for three hours. It has taken me that long to get back into my routine. If you do happen to flip back and read the Monday post, you’ll find that I have a very clever cat.

I have fish thawing for lunch. I am going to try a new idea. I have some Alaskan pollack, that I am going to poach in homemade tomato sauce with capers.

My big surprise last week. I won a prize.

Prizes just don’t normally enter my life. I have won very few and then of little value or consequence, so I was rather chuffed to win a copy of Born to Blood during the promotion week on Reduce Footprints guest post by SB Knight. Rather made my day.

I began reading it on reception. As I don’t have an eReader or a Kindle, Brian was kind enough to organise and send me a .pdf copy.

It’s the first novel that I have attempted to read via ‘the screen’ and it’s rather hard going. As an avid reader in the past, I do enjoy that ‘papery’ feel.

However, the book is worth the extra effort to concentrate. I’m a little more than half the way through, and getting to the interesting bit. I’ll keep you posted.

On with this week’s CTWW challenge:

This week take a walk and pick up trash. Then, come back here and tell us what you found (photos of what you collected would be great)!

Hmmm, great. This is something that I do as a matter of course. Especially around our local little praça (park). I hate seeing trash littering up the kids playground and the pathways. I used to make the effort on Sunday mornings, but since I have been confined to the walking stick, it’s not so frequent. I still do it occasionally. I pick up the roadside litter in front of my part of the street and wander along until I have filled a plastic shopping bag. No, not from my house, I find one somewhere in the park and use it; thereby recycling as well.

Some of the local kids in front of the praça

My camera is still having an identity crisis. Sometimes it decides it wants to be a camera, and sometimes not. At the moment it’s having an apoplectic fit and the battery cover is held in place by a rubber band. I have to get a new SD card as well, the one I have has decided it wants to be ‘read only’ and won’t let me erase images to make some room. Isn’t technology fun?

So there won’t be any pictures of me, or the rubbish. But I will give you a glimpse of the praça. The kids actually walked off and left the bottle and disposable cups on the ground, but threw them in the rubbish mumbling “velho caduco” (grumpy old man) after I drew their attention to the fact. A grumpy old man I maybe, but the praça is better for it. The photo is the view out my gate. Notice the old paralelopipado (paving stones) that make the roadway. Unfortunately they are being replaced by ashphalt as the road requires mending.

There you have it.

Certain Death

A street catador of cardboard

A street 'catador' of cardboard

I am a catador. I know it sounds like an AA confession; and I know it is an addiction. The verb catar in Portuguese means to ‘pick up’ or ‘scoop up’ and is used to describe people who collect useful, recyclable items from other people’s rubbish. These catadores are present everywhere. They collect cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, anything that is not nailed down and sell-able.

I have just read a story about a catadora (f) saving a plant that had been thrown away by someone else and relocating it outside her door on Good Girl Gone Green. Bells rung, lightbulbs flashed (the new CFLs don’t do this) and I realised that I had a post for today.

Espada de São Jorge

I have survived the last three years by ‘picking up’ useful stuff on the street. A few months back I saw a lovely plant Espada de São Jorge (St George’s sword) lying discarded on a pile of rubble. Someone had had a clean out. I was on the way to a private lesson, on the way back, it was still there; quite a clump the roots were just beginning to dry. I picked it up and walked the half hour home and put in a bucket of water to recover saving it from a certain death. Being quite a hardy plant, it did and I have long since replanted it in one of my elegant paint tins. The one shown is not mine, still lacking batteries for my camera.

My plant is ready to be divided and spread around a .bit.

I have no idea what the plant is called in English, if anyone has an idea, please leave a comment.


During my search for an image I found this and thought it appropriate…

A catadore's hand cart


The Portuguese reads: “I recycle, and you?” and “My car doesn’t pollute!”

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