J500 Media and the Environment


Make Less Trash, Not More War by shemme

Definitely not as cool as “Make Love, Not War,” but hey, sometimes you just gotta try stuff out.

FACT: Americans collected and recycled rubber, paper, scrap metal, fats, and tin cans during the 1940s to help the war effort. These efforts actually resulted in 25% of the entire waste stream being recycled and reused!
(Source: EPA “Milestones in Garbage” report)

warposter1.jpgWWII: “Help put the lid on Hitler by saving your old metal and paper.”

FAST FORWARD: It’s 2004, America is again at war, this time in Iraq. Soldiers overseas defy orders and report to journalists that they don’t have the necessary armor on their bodies or their vehicles, and there aren’t enough field radios, night vision goggles, or ammunition to go around. Back home only 36% (about 7 million tons) of metals are being recycled. Metals during this time make up 8% of the total waste stream. This means that despite soldier needs, 19.4 million tons of metal are being buried in landfills. Could there have been a national war effort to recycle all of this metal to keep our soldiers adequately supplied? I think so.
(Source: EPA “Facts & Figures” data)

Did we let our troops fight without wartime necessities because nobody really asked us to DO anything? Sure, there are the signs, bumper stickers, etc. that yell “Support our Troops!” but what does that really mean? If someone had told you it meant recycling, would you have done it?

Maybe it’s time to make recycling a patriotic act…again. Recycle for your country, recycle for the troops! It’s your duty as an American, after all.

NOW: It’s 2008, we’ve still got troops in Iraq. We’ve still got families purchasing body armor for their sons and daughters with money out of their own pockets. The unmet needs of our troops overseas are still there.

Won’t you take a look at your garbage? Won’t you help us reduce, reuse and recycle?

I did take a look at my garbage. I produce less than a pound of waste each day. The average American produces about 7.5 pounds a week. However, you’ll never find a can, #1 or #2 plastic container, glass, any bit of cardboard, chipboard, or paper in my trash.

There’s a war on, don’t you know, and I’m doing my bit. Are you?

~ Sarah H

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Above: Our recycling in the garage…

Below: Take a hint from the 1940s: carpool or ride a bike.

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garbage(n): aka litter, debris, junk, filth, waste, rubbish by Sarah
February 26, 2008, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , ,

Soooo one of my roommates accidentally threw out the trash before I could snap a picture of our ridiculously full kitchen trash can for this post…but now that I think about it, that probably saved me from a great deal of embarrassment. My puppy Romeo is happy though because he got in the picture at least! (Sorry I’m a little obsessive, he’s my child) Anyways, sometimes I can’t believe how much waste the three of us generate together in a day in this garbage can. This also seriously pisses me off because we live on the third floor and I hate hauling the trash to the dumpster, but that’s beside the point right?

Had I gotten a good picture of my personal garbage (imagine with me here), it probably would have consisted of the following: used coffee filters (Hi my name is Sarah, and yes, I am a caffeine-addict), empty sushi boxes, coffee cups from Dunn Brothers (usually my second fix of the day by the time I make this pit stop), string cheese wrappers (obsessed), a cheez-its box, definetley at least one Weight Watchers Smart Ones box (I pretty much live off these things until I can learn how to cook), and LOTS of paper towels. I don’t know why, but I cannot seem to kick my frivolous paper towel using habit…I’m working on it. Oh and after two weeks of our refrigerator smelling like a dead person was frozen in it, we finally found the source of the stench…a rotten tomato (yes, it was mine – and they blame me). So make sure and add that to my trash pile.

Photo: CRW Engineering Group, LLC

After our recent field trip to Hamm Landfill, the composting site, and the recycling center, I am even more motivated to recycle. I couldn’t believe how much paper we use. The landfill trip really opened my eyes to all the garbage we produce. I also proceeded to spread the word to my roommate, Sam Hamm (yes, as in Hamm Landfill) that she alone fills up half the garbage can in the kitchen from all her fast food wrappers and that she should cut back and not contribute to the landfill her family owns. She laughed, but trust me, I’m workin’ on her. My goal by the end of the semester is to get her to recycle 🙂 We’ll see…

-Sarah Nelson



Let’s get trashed by travisjbrown
February 26, 2008, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , , , ,

Environmentalist beware…..

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The garbage monster!

Yeup. That’s mine. A whole day of trash. You have to admit, he’s kind of cute from a distance.

But get up close and the story changes. There’s the smelly, rotting onion hiding behind his jug lid-nose. Take a peak inside the treacherous creature’s mouth and the view get’s even worse. Moist coffee grains strewn about, a pile of uneaten beans, a mound of bacon grease.

That’s not even half of the horror behind this monster. Think of how long this trash will be around. His left eye – that bean can – that’ll biodegrade in 50-100 years. His right aluminum eye will take 80 – 100 years. And that OJ jug he’s trying to chomp down – that’s here for the the long haul with a life expectancy of forever.

Two weeks ago I started this exercise of putting my trash out on display. Now I’d by lying to you if I told you this was an eco-conscious decision. Actually, I just don’t have a trash can by my desk at work, and I’m far to lazy to bring one. So I just create a pile next to my computer. Every time I drink a soda or finish a candy bar, I add the remains to the pile. At the end of the day I take the mini-heap to the trash can and recycling bins.

This is good for two reasons. 1) I make sure to recycle and 2) I’m more aware of my waste. Now, when I get my morning coffee, I nix the straw and napkins so that they won’t be staring at me all day.

When I decided to carry this experiment over to my home life, it didn’t go over as well. At work the trash just blends in with my usual clutter, and it only consists of a few remnants of items taken from the break room. At home I create much more waste and my roommates don’t appreciate it being left out in the open… no matter how pretty I make it look.

One of them even had the nerve to put my beautiful creation in the garbage can. Of course, I was forced to dig out and reassemble my new friend.

People don’t like seeing their trash.

No kidding, Travis. Why the hell do you think they invented the trashcan?

But maybe it’s good to see how much waste we produce. And I think I know just the man to help us with this.

Chris Jordan makes works of art that put our consumption in perspective.

Oh how lovely, it’s George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
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Wait a minute, that’s not a Seurat.

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Why, that’s not a Seurat at all!

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Artist: Chris Jordan, chrisjordan.com

This piece uses images of 106,000 aluminum cans. That’s how many are used in the U.S. every 30 seconds.

It may not be Neo-impressionism, but it sure makes an impression on me.

So is this mind control? Propaganda? Heresy to good old American capitalism? Does this artwork thrive of the guilty conscious of it’s viewers?

No. It educates us. Numbers just don’t have the impact they used to. We hear so many astronomical statistics on the news that we’ve become desensitized to them.

It’s the difference between these two fellas:
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Hmmm…..

Al Gore and Iron Eyes Cody may have strikingly similar facial features. But they used completely different means of communicating their message. While Cody tried to make us feel guilty for destroying mother earth, Mr. Gore has worked to educate us.

So I say bring on the awakening. Bring on the awareness. But it doesn’t hurt to focus on aesthetics. We all like pretty things

-Travis Brown



You can’t really judge a person by their trashcan(s). by dmdeshazer
February 26, 2008, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags:

I guess you could learn a lot about someone by observing their trashcan. Maybe that’s why people make a profession out of dumpster diving — trash is just that intriguing.

When I really thought about it though, most of my waste (and that of my roommates) is food-related. Take a look at the comparison of our kitchen trash with my own personal waste:

Kitchen trash in Danae's householdimg_5141.jpg img_5145.jpg

Yes, this difference may also be due to selective trash can using (i.e. we hold no discretion about which trash cans our trash is thrown into… it’s whatever is convenient or proximate), but it goes without saying that eating two to three meals a day contributes highly to what we all throw away.

But if you looked at my trashcan, all you can see is a lousy paper towel and a box of Theraflu medicine. Man, I don’t waste ANYTHING! You can’t judge my trash by my trashcan. That doesn’t account for the one to two cans of Diet Coke I drink a day, the can from my soup I had for lunch, or maybe even my styrofoam dinner container from chinese take-out leftovers. And what about the Kansan I read today, but left in one of my classrooms. What happens to that?

I had a conversation with one of my four roommates about all my new “discoveries” of green living, and she responds, “Yeah, let’s start recycling!” with a jubilant yelp — yet, we both have still yet to share this enlightened idea with the rest of our roommates or make a bin for our joint recyclables or even start to take action… I digress.

So, how can we reduce this food-related waste that happens every time we eat, which for most of us is many, many times a week? I really don’t know a solution, but I’ll be looking.

–Danae DeShazer



Don’t read that trash. Read this. by Lauren Keith


photo by Vitor, flickr.com

It’s nice that this assignment is over. I can finally take a load off. Or out.

Actually, the amount of trash that I generated in the first day was not even worthy of a picture, so I extended the assignment’s time frame to cover from Friday until five minutes ago, and I’m still simultaneously intrigued by and disappointed in my waste.

I guess I’m not as “wasted” as I thought I was.

This is all of the trash generated over the past five days.

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Including (but not limited to):

-junk mail and magazine inserts
-maybe the worst bagel I’ve ever had
-far too many receipts: And how can I go to both Wal-Mart and The Merc? I only bought a pack of stickers, and I died a little when I walked inside.
-Waffles, constituting at least 30 percent of my diet.
-Dr Pepper, the breakfast of champions
-plastic wrap from leftovers, sticker packaging and the top of crouton bags

When separated into recyclables, the picture is a little different (separated by the red plastic line from my new bag of cheese. I better get some “reuse” points there).

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During the tour of Hamm Landfill, Charlie Sedlock said that about 80 percent of the trash was fibrous products, like cardboard, something that I couldn’t believe. What about all of those diapers, food scraps and unshredded personal data from the University?

But then seeing my own trash, I would guess that Charlie’s estimation is accurate.

I was really proud of how much of my waste could be recycled, but I seem to have forgotten the less popular Rs. Even if I am recycling, I am still consuming.

I’ve never been happy about being below average, but these are pictures that I could post on the refrigerator that Mom would be proud of.

As long as they aren’t on a piece of paper.

—Lauren Keith

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How Convenient is “Convenient”? by julianat
February 26, 2008, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , , ,

I carried a bag of trash around for 24 hours. I’ve never been as intimate with my waste before, but at the same time I felt very disconnected.

Today was a bad day for trash , and this was due to the relative “convenience” of my waste. With sympathy towards Bobby’s post, I just didn’t have time to create a healthy lunch for myself, and had to resort to getting mysterious food from The Underground .

Some say ignorance is bliss, and sometimes I wish I could resort to that lifestyle. Before every action or decision I make, my mind initiates a long list of questions. Where did this come from? What is in this? How did it get here ? Who made this? Where will the unusable parts or trash go when I am through with this? The list goes on and on, and it can make life quite difficult and can make my conscience go nuts, but it is the consequence (and benefit to everything else) of my awareness.
Walking into the Underground made me really uncomfortable. It’s crowded, its noisy and everyone is flirting. I feel like my decision on what food to get and eat are being observed by everyone, and the notion of taking a huge Styrofoam plate for my salad makes me want to succumb to my empty stomach and run home for food.

What really is the convenience of these disposables? Not only does it wreck havoc on my conscience, but using disposable take out containers make up a large majority of waste and no where to put it.

Apart from my guilty consumption last night, I was also attending an “internationally themed” potluck for Environs, which meant for me, making about 40 delicious Vietnamese spring rolls. This lead to a disproportionate amount of personal trash, because I was cooking for about 25 people.

This waste from my cooking excursion included, plastic packaging for noodles, rice paper and tofu, as well as a lot of organic waste from preparing carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and herbs.

To offset my already abundant waste for the day, I knew I could do something with the peels and bits and pieces of unused vegetables. I unfortunately have no backyard and no garden, so composting was out of the question for me. Instead, I decided to save up these bits and pieces for a future vegetable stock! I bagged up the excess veggies, and threw them in a (plastic) bag and stored them in the freezer.

I felt a little better about diverting some waste, but it still makes me cringe to think of all the Styrofoam waste that the university and faculty and students partake in. When will KU wake up and become sustainable and KU Dining start using biodegradable disposables?

My Frozen Veggies

My bag of veggies for vegetable stock

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A Day in Trash

The Recycling Center

The Recycling Center at my House

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OK, I had to post one more photo because I saw everyone else had trashy pictures with their pets, and Ferdinand happened to be interested too

– Juliana Tran



Trash day is my favorite day! by lindsaycr
February 26, 2008, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags:

When I read the assignment for this week, I was actually pretty excited to see where I would rank regarding trash consumption. When I picked through my trash, I came up with three major categories: paper, food, and plastic and cardboard containers.

I realized that the majority of my trash was paper products. That wasn’t surprising considering the fact that the EPA says that two-thirds of total waste is paper. My paper products included a magazine, some old homework, junk mail, and newspapers.

I hate wasting paper so I have always been pretty good about separating paper products from the rest of my trash. I even found a Web site where it teaches you how you can recycle paper at home.

The next big item in my trash was leftover food. I already knew that food could be used in composte, but I learned that I could also combine food scraps with yard waste to make it easier to recycle.

The last thing in my trash were containers and packaging for things like milk jugs, cereal boxes, etc. One of the things that I’ve always liked doing is saving plastic containers, like for butter or sour cream, and using them as tupperwear. That’s my way of saving the environment and money at the same time!

In the end, my one day trash consumption equaled less than one pound. When I tried to weigh it on my bathroom scale, nothing came up. One of the reasons I was so light was because there were a ton of paper products, but it would be interesting to see how heavy it would be on another day. At the end, I was glad to know that I was well below the national average of 4.6 pounds.

Lindsay