September 19, 2011 · 7:56 am
One of the first subjects I wrote about on this blog was anthropology.
I asked you to consider what social scientists would learn about you if they happened upon your magazine rack.
Now and again we have a chance to learn about each other, as households of humans, through our recycling bins.
We know quite a bit about our neighbors—their dietary habits and how they spend their weekends—on recycling day. They also get a glimpse into who we are, that is, unless we’ve mastered the art of burying clues, as I do when necessity dictates.
Doesn’t every family stash its Little Debbie cartons or otherwise-telling proof of vice beneath the Kashi Go Lean?
What do we know about people based on what’s on their curb?
A bin brimming with dead PBR soldiers might reveal a group house of twenty-somethings, while a heavier load of Shiraz bottles and brie rinds is a sure sign of a girls’ weekend.
Walking down my street, you’d envision from this curbside container an adoring aunt who spoils her visiting nephews:
You’d also know that neighbors aren’t rushing to party with the empty nesters who left this blue bin behind.
Quick, take a look, what’s in your trash tub? Do tell: What’s buried beneath those Evian empties?
April 19, 2011 · 8:33 am
You may have seen the Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., on Today or read about them in Sunset magazine though, if you’re like the Johnsons, you might not have any magazines in your house.
The Johnsons have come to be known as a zero-waste family. They generate no trash and very little recycling. You can read for yourself how this family’s desire to live simply and cleanly has decreased their contribution of refuse to our planet. Admirable, I’d say. And guilt-provoking.
I’m a little ashamed of our household’s size 16 carbon footprint. We are the antithesis of the Johnsons. I’m not sure exactly how two humans and two felines can generate enough weekly waste to fill the Johnsons’ bins for more than a year. See for yourself. Not counting the bags of yard waste that already await pick-up at the curb, we’ve filled a 20-gallon can and an even larger sized Hefty bag in less than a week. Plus this large recycling bin and a paper bag’s worth of newspapers joining the yard waste at the curb as we speak.
Granted, we did a little spring cleaning over the weekend. For example, in preparation for our kitchen project, I decided to thin out our spice collection. “They” say kitchen spices go bad after six months and that we should discard them after that time. “They” would probably also say that the bottles should be recycled and the spices themselves composted or trashed, but that presumes the spices aren’t permanently adhered to their receptacles after years of neglect.
As someone who keeps her spices in alphabetical order, I’d appear to have a good grip on this. Over the weekend, I went through all my spices, A to Z. I discarded four bottles of curry powder, while being hard pressed to remember when I’d ever used curry powder in my life. Maybe they were part of my husband’s trousseau. Cream of Tartar? I’m not sure I even know what that is.
I swear there was a bottle of whole cloves that came from the house I grew up in, which we vacated in 1976. Somehow I manage to go through several bottles of chili powder a year, and yet can barely twist off the gummed up lids of nearly a quarter of these fastidiously filed spices. I had samples of every Spice Islands and McCormick’s label design of the last 30 years. Never mind all the other relics I came across while cleaning out my kitchen for the first time in 20 years.
Perhaps the Today show would like to interview me.
Filed under Food, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio
Tagged as Béa Johnson, carbon footprint, cleaning, cooking, cream of tartar, curry powder, garbage, kitchen, McCormick's spices, recycling, Spice Islands spices, spice rack, Sunset magazine, Today Show, trash, trash-free household, zero-waste home