All posts tagged: Recycling

The Day I Decided to Clean Up My Hometown

I live in Des Moines, Iowa. Once known mostly as a “fly-over” state, we are now a fast growing city whose inhabitants strut around with intense pride for their thriving cultural accoutrements and affluent economy. Des Moines is often described as mid-sized, safe, clean and accessible — a place where you can make an impact, see the ripple effect and still leave your front door unlocked in the event a friend wants to deliver a homemade pie. But this spring as the snow melted, I started to see that my prideful perception of my perfect little town wasn’t quite accurate: The “clean” landscape I frequently boasted about now appeared trashy and unkempt. And I was embarrassed. En route to a favorite brewery one day, I happened to glance out the window, acutely tuned in to the surroundings. One side of the road was a big lot filled with semi truck trailers. The other side was lined with trees and brush — and should have been the side of the street that harkened to nature and …

The Tyranny and Terror of Proper Recyling

I live in fear throughout the year. I live in fear of trash. And trash receptacles. The refuse chute. Trash cans. Garbage bags. Those misleadingly cheery green and blue plastic bins with imprinted arrows, infinitely chasing each other in a relationship that will never be consummated, forever and ever and ever. This phobia began when recycling laws went into effect in our hometown. My mother took the rules very seriously. We’d hear her asides about the trash habits of our neighbors, who, without a care in the world, would cavalierly fling empty pizza boxes into the bins marked “Glass Only.” There were only a half-dozen bins marked “Paper Only” waiting to accept their refuse, but no, these thoughtless yuppies tossed their artisan Otto’s Pizza boxes into the bins reserved for glass. Every evening, for as long as I could remember, newspapers, plastic, boxes, cardboard and metal bric-a-brac were separated and dutifully carried to the green square cans labeled “Paper,” “Metal” or “Plastic” on the curb, first by my Father, and then, later, by us kids. …

Anatomy of a Working Relationship (and a Sustainable Skateboard)

The first time my husband told me his idea, I wanted to throw up. Not because it was a bad idea — but because it was an idea that I could envision really, truly coming to life. My husband Mac is an artist who has spent the last two decades building with junk, er, found objects. He shows in a Chelsea gallery that features collage art, and he recently turned a 30-yard dumpster into a traveling collage. So when he was approached by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create a piece of art out of trash, it wasn’t totally surprising. The WWF’s “Do The Green Thing “ campaign, in conjunction with Earth Hour, invited 15 artists to create something to inspire conscious, sustainable living, and he was one of them. We were standing in our kitchen, arms folded and leaning against the counter, and Mac told me he didn’t want to make art out of trash, he wanted to make a thing to use: a skateboard. (Isn’t it funny how many important conversations happen in the kitchen, …