Recently a group of friends discovered that when using a restaurant or store bathroom, I take home the empty toilet paper roll if I use the last of it. Think about it—if you throw it in the trash, where does it go? To the trash.
So I take it home and recycle it.
Well, my friends have brought this up over three successive visits. To them, this is one of the weirdest activities in my wheelhouse. It is apparently head-and-shoulders more bizarre than:
1. Going thirsty rather than drinking water out of plastic.
2. Taking my own containers into a restaurant for leftovers.
3. Keeping no paper towels or paper napkins in the house.
4. Building a deck out of 60,000 pounds of salvaged metal.
Those damn TP rolls did me in! I wasn't so odd until they learned about that habit. (Keep in mind that one of these friends regularly finds furnishings and small appliances for her Black Butte home at the Black Butte dump. While dropping off trash, she looks for treasures. This activity, I heartily approve, BTW.)
In any case, since my weirdness calibrator is broken, or perhaps never existed, here are recent discoveries—sent to me by (odd?) friends—regarding consumption and waste. The goal here? To get you thinking about all types of waste and how it affects the planet, particularly those sneaky and subversive reflexive wasteful moves. (Also, to get you to consider your weirdo habits—or even start some!)
- One of those TP friends sent me this info: Scott Naturals is now making TP without the tube. Why should you be excited about this? Per their site: "Over 17 billion toilet paper tubes are thrown away each year. That’s enough to fill the Empire State Building. Twice." TP tubes are not innocuous bits of trash—they really add up.
- Do you ever think about food waste? The people at Food Not Bombs think about it. Food Not Bombs is a volunteer organization which has now spread to 60 countries and recovers "food that would have been discarded and share(s) it as a way of protesting war and poverty" (per their website).
- And there's plenty of food for the people at Food Not Bombs to collect and distribute. Did you know that Americans throw out more food than plastic? Whether your hot button is how methane affects the environment, the environmental effect of food distribution, or the huge number of hungry people in this country, wasting food is not helpful.
- The Life of a Plastic Fork: so many things we do are automatic, like getting plastic utensils with a takeout lunch, or with your Salt and Straw ice cream. Read this article, get depressed and stop using plastic utensils. Immediately. (This habit is so easy to adopt!) If you're thinking that this kind of thing happens less in Portland, where the lowly plastic bag has already been banned, think again. First, the suburbs are still embracing plastic bags. Second, check out the plastic used at all our food carts. Third, while the Phoenix Open is the "greenest show" on grass, with no garbage cans (Yes, that town in Arizona!), Portland Fashion Week used a vendor that provided beverages in non-recyclable plastic cups. Not cool, Portland!
Waste is insidious. No matter how green you think you are, there are probably some plastic fork skeletons in your closet. If you have a weird eco-habit, own it proudly. If you're looking to shock your friends this holiday season, do something different. Give them a pack of tube-less TP. Buy some colorful sporks made from recycled materials, and keep them in your car. Keep your own shopping bags in the car, too. And, maybe even keep an extra bag for collecting trash that shows up along the way each day. Fly that freak flag, and I'll be right there with you with my TP empties.