Mar 26 2011

it’s alien poo out of an alien dumpster! [day 303]

Maybe I’m a mean mom, but I make my kids try new foods.  I don’t make them eat it if they don’t like it and I don’t go out of my way to get things that will gross them out.  Both of them like pistachio nuts so I thought I would make some pistachio pudding for dessert.  Here’s what happened.

Let me just defend myself here.  I have never fed my kids anything out of a dumpster.  I get food from grocery stores and I don’t know any aliens.  I don’t like food waste, so I bought just one box of pudding, however my timing on it wasn’t great.  I was going out of town the next day and since nobody liked it, it sat in my fridge for 5 days.  I guess the aliens came in peace though, as this is the shape the pudding cracked into.

Okay, so I added the little piece at the bottom between the two small lines, but it looked like a peace sign when I pulled it out, as the other 3 lines were cracked in.  So what’s the best way to avoid food waste with kids?  Here’s a few tips.

  • Small portions. When eating out, I sometimes make them share or order small quantities because we can always order more.  At home, I let them fill their own plates with the understanding that they must eat what they put on it.
  • Plan leftovers. If you go out, don’t get food that will taste bad as leftovers.  French fries are just gross as leftovers.  Order something that you or your kids will eat the next day.  At home, make extras of the foods that will keep well as leftovers and cook only what will be eaten on the right-now foods.
  • Let your kids cook. I don’t do this often enough, but if they help in the meal planning and cooking, they’re more apt to eat it.

This won’t eliminate waste, but it sure will cut it down to an extreme minimum.  It also never hurts to communicate your grocery budget to the kids and let them shop.  Keep in mind this can backfire when your 10 and 11 year-olds go to the neighbors house and tell them they’re spending way too much money on groceries, telling them everything they know about saving money when buying food.  I’ve found that works better than the ‘starving-kids-in-other-countries’ talk.  If we’re less wasteful, we’ll have more resources to help others.


Mar 8 2011

dumpster surfing [day 286]

I dropped off several bags at the Goodwill trailer, and the only logical exit is to drive behind the shopping center.  It’s a strip mall with a grocery store, a couple of restaurants and lots of small mom and pop type stores.  As we were driving around back to head home, I saw a bunch of clothes thrown in front of a dumpster.  I’m really not sure why the person that threw them out there didn’t place them in the dumpster, but I decided before I eve got out of the car that these needed to be used, not end up in a landfill.

Now don’t get me wrong, had any of these been my size or anything I needed, I would have taken them.  I guess instead of dumpster diving, we could call this dumpster surfing.  My son who was with me was not all that impressed that we were going to pick these up and take them back to the Goodwill trailer.  He reluctantly helped me load them in the car.  It didn’t take long, and the clothes were all in good condition.  At least they won’t be in a landfill.

I’m guessing these were rejects from the Plato’s Closet store in the strip mall.  Anyway, they found a good place.  Surfing is good.


Mar 5 2011

the sky is falling [day 283]

Giant, shrink-wrapped books.  They’re everywhere.  I think it rained phonebooks, although I don’t remember seeing that in my weather forecast.  Flint Lockwood must have made another machine, but this one storms phone books.  They’re on top of the mailboxes, on the sidewalks, in the grass, they’re pretty much everywhere.  They’re taking over the neighborhood.

Why do the Yellow Pages still exist?  Simple, because advertisers are still giving them money.  Let’s look at the logic here.  Are these businesses just clutching on to a past dream of advertising success, unwilling to let go?  I walk my street twice a day and nobody is bringing these books in the house.  Now the advertisers are probably paying for internet and print, so as long as they’re getting new customers, they’re probably not concerned with the details, they just want the results.  How many people still use phone books?  I’m sure there’s a small percentage and I’m all for print some for the people that want them.  But why are they mass producing them to throw them in people’s yards when 99% of them will go in the recycling bin, or worse yet, the trash?  I find it funny (the disturbing kind) that they have a dumpster specifically for phone books.   Continue reading


Jan 26 2011

recycle freecycle [day 246]

Freeycycle is the modern day dumpster diving, without having to touch a dumpster or trash can.  From the freecycle site: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

I had my first free items from freecycle.org a couple of weeks ago.  Three empty 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot.  I really needed just one, but the others will come in handy too, as I need to get rid of most of the paint I’ve been hoarding for years.

A few days ago, I got 3 lamps from freecycle.  One of them being a really cool, ultra-modern lamp, but needing repair to the on/off switch.  I haven’t repaired the lamp yet, but I can use the electrical from one of the other lamps that was missing a shade.  This lamp was not cheap and is probably the nicest lamp I own now.  The other small lamp, also missing a shade, will be my new energy efficient light in the nook on my staircase.  I ran electrical to that a couple of months ago since there was electrical in the closet underneath the stairs.

I’ve also gotten rid of things that I don’t need anymore.  Clutter is not my friend, so this made it easy.  I had some fence boards that I had no place to store.  Someone on freecycle was getting as many fence pieces as possible so he could build a new fence.  Smart dude, as he probably saved $5k and kept a lot of wood out of the landfill.   Continue reading


Jan 5 2011

what retailers should you support? [day 222]

I found myself being irritated at the grocery store, stirring over the little yellow tags again.  (day 160… trained shopping monkeys)  Upon a very deliberate observation, I would guess 60% or more of the little yellow tags are ‘low price‘ tags and not ‘sale‘ tags.  How am I supposed to grocery shop for the best prices?  My kids have been yellow-tag-trained too, as they shop thinking anything with a yellow tag is one sale.  Isn’t marketing wonderful?

Even with the irritation, I have found a few retailers that are doing some really good things.  Competition is fierce and I think all retailers succumb to the manipulative marketing at some point or another.  Here’s a few retail stores I would support, you know, if I could shop.  😉  This is not a comprehensive list, just a few I’ve run into lately.

Lowe’s hardware store. Of any shopping I might miss, I do miss my home improvement / hardware stores.  I’m going to be a little generic here since I’m not sure how public this information is, as some companies do things under the radar to stay out of the corporate ball of red tape.  Lowe’s has not only donated the materials, but also the labor to add restrooms, showers and laundry facilities to a local homeless shelter.  Not only that, but finishing off the rooms, painting, and many other details too numerous to mention.  Need some screws?  Go to Lowe’s.

Again, probably under the radar, but not sure, Market Street grocery store donates a lot of leftover foods to shelters in the area.  There’s a lot of stores putting perfectly good food in dumpsters, but not MS.  Shopping at Market Street is a treat, as it’s a little on the pricey side for my shopping habits, however they carry foods you can’t find anywhere else.  Their cafe is also a great deal for lunch or dinner, as the prices are good, portions are big and the food is great.

Yes, Kroger.  Even though I’m not so happy about their little yellow tags, they still do good things for the community.  On day 55, I blogged about how Kroger gives away $1 million dollars a year to organizations that help people in need.  All you have to do is print their little bar code and have it scanned when you shop to support organizations in your area.

I don’t know the motivation of any of these stores, but I do know when I choose where to shop, I want to know I’m not just making some fat pockets for a few executives that don’t need more money.  I want to support businesses that strengthen the community, minimize waste, treat their employees well and participate in the good of people.  :)


Dec 26 2010

returns [day 212]

It’s the day after Christmas, the day where everyone returns the gifts they don’t want.  I gave myself a Christmas gift yesterday, and that gift was to take a day off of blogging.  I’m a couple of days behind and will get caught up.

I did go dumpster diving on Christmas day.  It was way too cold to be doing this, so I only hit a couple of them, but I did find some interesting things.  I found one full of books, CD’s and DVD’s.  The sad part about it, is that most of this could have been placed in a recycling bin, not a trash bin.

At least if I don’t like the stuff, it’s easy to return.  :)  The fact that return lines are longer than purchasing lines, the day after Christmas, supports the theory that not only do people not need all this stuff, they don’t want most of it either.  I guess I should go diving in residential trash bins, although I hope the unwanted things make it to a thrift store.


Dec 11 2010

AWESOME dumpster diving video! [day 199]

This video was created for a school project by a student at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania for a Physics of Energy and the Environment class.  It’s a wonderful video on the how-to’s of dumpster diving with some alarming statistics.  Check it out.  It’s well worth 8 minutes of your time.


Nov 13 2010

black friday shopping: the new olympic sport [day 170]

Okay, so it’s not an olympic sport… yet.  I do however, find this black friday business very interesting.  The idea for this blog post started with an article I found in a local magazine, called Black Friday: Survival Tips.  Please understand, if you choose to participate in this sport, I’m not saying it’s bad, this might just be another way to look at it.

Black Friday, ironically a name associated with financial crisis, started back in the mid 60’s and has become a cultural icon of holiday shopping addiction.  “Door busters” is another iconic shopping term, born out of the black friday marketing efforts of the major retailers.  Back in 2008, a WalMart employee was trampled to death by a black friday door buster event.  Is this really what its come to?

Back in 1993, I worked as a manager for Toys R Us in Miami, Florida.  This was during the Power Rangers craze, where people would line up outside the doors, knowing the the shipment came in the night before.  At opening, two people had to unlock the doors, simultaneously at the count of three, then run to paste their bodies as close to the wall as possible, as to not get trampled by the insane crowd pushing their way into the store.  I only wish I had saved the security tape where we recorded this, as it’s hard to put into words.  I also remember calling the police several times a week to break up a fist fight between parents fighting over the last of some random toy that is probably in a landfill by now.   Continue reading


Jun 28 2010

the challenge: day 32 [dumpster diving]

I have taken dumpster diving to a whole new level.  I was leaving church after work and happened to glance over at the dumpster.  Sitting right on top were 6 really nice sofa/chair cushions!  I’m not talking about those cheap crappy ones either, I’m talking nice ones, the kind that sell for $80 a piece!  I’m pretty sure I ran to the dumpster, you know, just in case anyone else was eyeing my treasure.  I dove in and started unloading my cushions, and when I looked up to get out, I had an audience.  “Look, Jody’s in the dumpster!”  Yes.  Jody can be found in any dumpster that has useable stuff in it.

Now some of you might be wondering if I was embarrassed.  The answer is yes, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.  I’m not at all ashamed to be caught in a dumpster, I’m ashamed that there was useable stuff that was carelessly discarded.  All it takes is a phone call to a local thrift store.  They will gladly come pick things up from businesses or residences FREE of charge.  The donations sometimes go directly to people in need or sold to financially help impoverished people.

Lori was leaving work today and also found a treasure, two nice indoor/outdoor rugs.  If the rain holds off, I’ll go dig out the other good stuff and take it to the thrift store.


Jun 16 2010

recycling the recycling conversation [day 19 & 20]

On day 14 of the challenge, I blogged about a recycling program I set up at our church building.  I have received some emails about my “free recycling program”, challenging me with the question, “Is it ethical?”

Let me start by saying these people have some very points, and I do take this very seriously.  If I in anyway thought this would be a problem, not only would I have not done it, but I also wouldn’t be encouraging everyone else to join in on it.  There’s something else you should know, these comments (as far as I know) are from people that don’t personally know me.  They were sent to me anonymously through someone I do know.  With that being said, I’m glad to see some opposing views, as it opens the door to some awesome conversations.  I encourage your feedback!  Please feel free to post your comments on my blog, good or bad.  I think debate about critical issues is a good and healthy process.

Issue #1: Confidentiality

Someone was worried that we were recycling confidential papers that might have information about people in our church.  We have a shredder and all of that type of paper is shredded.  No worries there.  :)

Issue #2: Residential vs. Commercial

Instead of trying to paraphrase this, I’m going to quote this person.

“The question of ethics still remains. The recycling program set up for a business is set up for a business. The recycling program for a home is set up for a home because they assume the volume will be less and there are typically more homes in a city than there are businesses so the cost evens out to a lower amount per home based on volume.  So by taking the business recycling to your home, you are circumventing the city regulations/rules/costs, etc. by using your home instead. If everyone starts to do this, then the cost of the home recycling item on residential bills would need to increase to help pay for it. Long shot that it would be a volume buster but you never know. I’m pretty certain the city wouldn’t really want for this to happen. Just not sure it’s an ethical thing for the church to be doing.”

I believe this person has a great point.  My thought is that we are simply filling up the leftover space in our bins.  Extra pick-ups cost more and nobody is bringing that much home.

Issue #3: Why bring it home?

Again, I’ll just share what I received.

“I don’t get why you have to take the recycling home when you can just take it to a recycling pick up place.  They have several in (our city).  Don’t they have those in other towns?  We almost always fill up our recycle bin, so I wouldn’t just take some home from church to throw in mine.  I personally think it’s in poor taste  for a church to suggest this, even though it does save them money.”

Again, I take these comments seriously and my intention was to be a good steward of God’s resources.  So after all of the feedback, I decided to take a little field trip.  My kids and I visited the recycling center here in Frisco.

The Scoop on Recycling

I looked around at the recycling center.  It’s been a while since I’ve been over there, and they still have the fun painted recycling containers.  We went inside and I found someone that could answer my recycling questions.  I told her where I work, explained in detail the program I set up and my reasons for doing it.  Then I asked the big questions, “Is this unethical?  Is it okay to utilize the extra space in our bins?”  She suggested that we bring it to the center and gave me the hours of operation.  The home bins are not a problem, however, due to the nature of our business type recycling, they have specific bins for paper and cardboard.  It’s not a problem to bring some of it home, but it does make their jobs easier if we bring it to the center.

The Solution

I will modify the program to bring everything to the center and only use home bins for small loads or overflow if needed.  Once this is in place, we will be able to expand our recycling to plastic, cardboard and other materials.  My son also decided to get a bin for recycling batteries.  We can bring those to the center as well.

Also, someone suggested I contact a few local schools.  Some of the schools have programs for recycling where they get credit or financial benefits for the amount the collect.  If any of those apply in our local schools, we will work with them.

One last thing.  I’m teaching this stuff to my kids, not only the recycling part, but the process of finding creative solutions to making our planet a better place.  I very much appreciate the people that gave their time to voice concerns.  Their input prompted me to do more research, and in the long run, will make this program successful in many ways.  If there are other concerns or questions out there, please post them.  This is my intended purpose for trashsociety.com.  I want to start people thinking creatively…   How we can significantly cut down our waste?   Why is that even important?  If you’re reading this, then you must be somewhat interested, or really bored.  😉

Here’s some  more pics from the recycling center…