Random Brain Dumping

Musings and observations about life

You, too, can make history

Sure, Inauguration Day is historic and not only because this year, it falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Not to take anything away from the president’s day, or MLK, but I recently did something history making, something that you, too, can do.

The accomplishment took months to achieve, but it was years in the making.

I’ve been saving and saving, and on the second Saturday in the month, I did it.

Yes, they're recyclable ...

Yes, they’re recyclable …

I recycled Styrofoam.

OK, Styrofoam is a trademark name, but you know the stuff I’m talking about.

The stuff we’ve been told for generations is not Earth-friendly because decomposition takes thousands of years (if it ever decomposes) and because it’s not been recyclable and just ends up in landfills.

That stuff, technically called expanded polystyrene, polystyrene foam, polystyrene plastic or expanded plastic. It comes in many forms: peanuts, cups, to-go containers. It keeps cold stuff cold and hot stuff hot – without freezing or burning our hands.

And we usually just put it in the trash when we’re finished with it. I’ve tossed the stuff in the trash for decades.

Last year, after I simply couldn’t bear the thought of contributing further to the mounds of trash already around Atlanta, I looked up “recycling” and “Styrofoam,” and found that the a group called Keep Atlanta Beautiful offers recycling of all sorts of things the first and second Saturday of each month.

Electronics. Paper. Plastic. Aluminum.

And Styrofoam.

Not only does recycling the plastic reduce the size of landfills, but since it’s made from petroleum and has other chemicals, recycling reduces chemical leaching. (I wonder if recycling could also affect gas prices since gasoline comes from petroleum, too.)

The problem for me, though, is that I could not justify driving six miles just to recycle a to-go container and cup.

... As long as they have the recycle symbol, with a 6 in center.

… As long as they have the recycle symbol, with a 6 in center.

So, I stockpiled the stuff. In trash bags. For months and months until I thought I had enough to recycle. Four in all.

And, I had to rinse each container, not only to reduce the likelihood of unwanted visitors, but because Keep Atlanta Beautiful required that each container be rinsed.

Oh, the recyclable expanded plastic must have the number 6 inside the recycle triangle (usually on the bottom of the container).

On the first Saturday of the month, I drove about 15 miles in my big honkin’ truck with my four bags, relying on the GPS of my “smart” phone, only to end up at what the phone said was the correct address but ended up being a field.

Even after I decided to pay attention to building numbers rather than listen to the GPS, I still didn’t find the location.

Undeterred, I went home and left the bags in the truck.

A week later, success – about 42 seconds after I arrived at the second venue.

Of those who ventured to the site, I was the only one at the Styrofoam recycling truck.

Hmm. I don’t think word has gotten out.

Styrofoam is, indeed, recyclable – at least in many cities.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Random Brain Dumping | , , , | 1 Comment

One cup of joe, but at what cost

A few Christmases ago, a friend gave me one of the best gifts ever: a single-cup coffeemaker that uses little paper pods filled with coffee.

The perfect cup of coffee every time.

Lately, however, I’ve had a difficult time finding the pods in stores, so when an aunt gave me a brewer that uses little plastic single-serve cups filled with coffee, I accepted it and ordered boxes of these cups from the manufacturer, which also boasts of delivering the perfect single serving of coffee.

Both brewers live up to their claims, but I have a problem with the plastic cups.

What do I do with all the discarded ones?

With the pods, discarding them was easy: Because they are made from paper, I could actually just add them to the soil of my many potted plants and to the rose bush, tomato and hibiscus plants in the yard. The paper is biodegradable, and the coffee serves as a great fertilizer.

Cup of hot coffee

One cup of coffee is all I need, but what do I do with the used K cups that my coffee comes in?

Burying plastic isn’t a good idea.

What I ended up doing was pulling the aluminum top off, dumping the coffee into a bag and adding the plastic cup, the paper filter inside and the top to my recyclable stash.

The problem is that the process is so tedious. Fortunately, I drink only one or two cups of coffee a day. I would be hard-pressed if I drank any more than that.

Another problem is that when I checked out the manufacturer’s website to see if it had recycling options, I found that the aluminum portion isn’t easily recyclable because it has a special coating on it that hinders the process. The company says it’s working on a system for high-use areas (not sure where those are) that will at least use the grounds as compost. I’ve found that it’s actually easier to recycle the brewer itself than the plastic cups that hold the coffee.

Fortunately, I never gave up my search for the coffee pods for my other brewer, and I found some while vacationing in Hawaii. Why is it that I could find them in Hawaii but not in Georgia?

No lo se.

So incredibly tedious was my attempt at recycling that when I ran out of the plastic cups, I went back to using the pods.

I’ve noticed that my work headquarters has the plastic-cup coffeemakers all around the building. I assume that the vendor collects the used ones, but I wonder what happens to them.

Are the cups recycled or simply tossed?

Do you use a plastic-cup brewer? You know, the one that begins with a K? What do you do with the used ones?

Maybe we can put our heads together to come up with environmentally friendly uses for them.

I would love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue using the pods, when I can find them, or I’ll use the reusable plastic cup that I recently found for $11 online that allows me to put my own coffee in it and not have to worry about where the waste goes.

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Random Brain Dumping | , , , , , | 1 Comment


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