On getting a new truck and reusing stuff

I totaled my car last week, which is a major bummer to me.  I really loved that car.  It was getting old, no bones about that, and had some issues that were going to need fixing coming up sooner rather then later, but I still loved that car.  It got amazing gas mileage and I could haul a lot of stuff around.  I got an average of 40 mpg….and it cost around $20 for me to fill the tank.

Man, oh man does owning a truck after a car like that turn into major shock at the gas pump.  I got a 2004 Ford ranger xlt.  It’s a nice truck.  Super comfortable, power everything, not too big to drive around.  I get 18mpg.  18.  Bleh. It costs me $40+ to fill it up.  I can’t even go as far on a tank of gas as I could in my car! So not happy about that.  I think I’m in for a lifestyle change about the way I drive around.

I’m having trouble with the halving of my gas mileage, using twice as much gas as I was before.   I’m not even sure if I think this truck can haul any more then my car could.  Using twice as much of a non renewable resource as I was before just does not sit right with me at all.

However…

I was able to respond to an ad on Craigslist for some weathered wood.  A lot of weathered wood.  A whole decks top of wood someone had pulled off to replace and wanted to get rid of.   Non chemically treated weathered wood as far as I can tell.

It’s not any good for a deck anymore, a lot of the ends are rotted and the screws that were left in it are rusted through.  They are mostly 2 x 6’s as far as I can tell of all various lengths mostly over 6 foot.  Most of the screws are gone and I didn’t see any nails.  The boards are solid for the most part if you’d cut off about 2-6 inches off the ends.

Absolutely perfect for my uses.

I am planning on making raised beds in my front yard to hold the dirt I dig out of my new bigger pond project.  The beds will be used to plant various garden crops this spring and in future years.  What doesn’t get used in the front yard will be used in the garden for the same purpose.

I’m got something for free that was someone else’s trash I get to put to a new purpose and it stays out of the landfill.  I got to save money by having the truck to haul it in, it would have never fit in my car at all.  I got to save new lumber from being used for this purpose, saving trees from being cut down needlessly.

Is this one thing worth the environmental hit on halving my gas mileage over all?  Not in my mind.  Not just this one thing.  I hope in the overall ownership of the truck to keep being able to do this kind of thing.  Keep offsetting my overall greater gas useage with an even bigger overall greater ability to reuse various things in my projects going forward.

Balance is an important thing in my life.  I hope to be able to achieve it with this truck.  I think so far with what I’ve done its been a net win, but I will have to be very aware of this in the future to be able to keep it that way.

-Fin

The Folly of Modern Convenience

For over two years now I’ve been comitted to an every other week meat pickup that consists of the trashed meat from a major retail chain.  This is a twice weekly pickup, of which I only participate in twice a month.  The average size of the pickup is in the 1500lb range….every time.

Did you realize that those clean, tidy, non bloody, sterile, styrofoamed bottom plastic wrapped chunks of meat in the grocery store were once a living animal that had to die so you could have the convenience of popping in to your one stop shoping experience so far removed from the place that meat comes from that there are actually people out there that have no idea what meat really is?  I wish I was kidding.

We were a society with a farm on every corner, a garden in every back yard, milk delivered fresh from the cow in glass reusealbe bottles , a society that knew the person who raised their food and the location of where it came from.  These days if you ask somene where food comes from they are likely to say “the store.” When asked where the store gets it from they probably don’t even know. If you ask the store where the food on their shelves comes from they are likely to name off one of only a few conglomerate food distribution companies…and have no knowledge of where those companies get that food from.

Every time I turn around these days it seems like there has been another recall on some form of food that has been tainted in some way or another with bacteria of one sort or another.  Back when I started to keep track of all of this, back when I went vegetarian, it was only meat of one kind or another that was involved in these recalls.  These days it seems to be a little of everything.  Within the last couple of weeks a local man died from tainted cantelope.   Tainted cantelope.  Tainted….cantelope?  This just blows my mind.

I’ve seen first hand in the last 2+ years how much food gets thrown away by just one major retail store here in the metro area.   This is just meat and processed meat products.  From there I can extrapolate easily the amount of fresh produce, bread, dairy and so called shelf stable foods get trashed as well.  Let me tell you that the shear amount of waste that goes on from each and every retail store around the states will absolutely blow your mind.  You truly have to see it to even imagine the scope of it.  This was, before it passed its “use by” date, perfectly edible food for human consumption.  I’m not even talking about the millions of pounds of food included in the recalls for one reason or another that is destroyed.  I’m just talking about the food that was shipped in from all over the globe so the average consumer could have the convenience of one stop shopping.  This is the food that gets too old to be either “pretty” or “safely eaten.”

I have little to no sympathy or patience for the talk I hear about people starving either here in the states or around the world.  It’s not that I’m not a compasionate person, that’s not it at all. My heart goes out, it truly does.  However let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that there isn’t enough food in this world to go around.  I’m not even including the food each and every one of us lets go bad in our pantry, freezer, or fridge here.  I’m sure that adds up as well.  I’m simply talking about the food that every day ends up in the landfills feeding no one due to our cultures insistance upon “convenience.”

So, for the last 2+ years, I’ve been picking through the meat only garbage of a typical major retailer for food for my cats and dogs.  99% of this food is either on the day of expiration or only 1 day past it.  Perfectly edible for even human consumption.  Yet, its trash.  Don’t talk to me about people starving in this country, I’ve seen the reason.

This meat pickup that I’ve been doing for 2+ years is at an end, I won’t be seeing the folly of modern convenience anymore going forward but you better believe that I will never forget it.

– Fin

Recycling Center in Overland Park

Overland Park has a pretty awesome recycling center! Its easy to find, basically you go down 119th street heading west, go past metcalf a bit and turn left at hardy st, it goes right in to it. Its by the Time Warner cable center there in OP.

Here are a bunch of pictures I took the first time I was there, they kind of looked at me funny…..

















I’ve gone twice now to drop off my glass and a couple other things. They take just about everything. I can truly say that between composting and recycling we have about a bag of trash a week these days. I am trying to get it down to having NO trash at all, but I’m not sure that’s going to be possible, I’m working on it though!

Something else I’m working on is looking for bags that are biodegradable. I am considering using paper bags but curious if there is a plastic trash bag out there that would work…..

–Fin

Reduce, reuse……recycle?

We are a disposable society.

Seems like kind of a trite statement, now doesn’t it? Political commentary best left to the media…..except I see it every single day on my job.

I’m a janitor. Yeah, I’m one of those people that most people ignore. That’s what I do, not who I am. But I digress.

One of the jobs that I do on a regular basis is empty trash at a very large office building. Its interesting to me what people throw away. I have more then one blog post I plan on writing that has been spawned just simply by the act of dumping peoples trash.

For today’s post I plan on focusing on soda pop cans. You know the ones….you put in your quarter (or fifty sense, or dollar…depending on where you are) and get out your Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or whatever your poison of choice is (and I really do mean poison….have you ever looked at the ingredients in that stuff???)and drink it down. Now….what do you do with the can?

Its been my experience lately that people fall into one of just a couple categories on this:

1) throw it in their trash can
2) take it to the break room and throw it in the trash can
3) take it to the break room and throw it in the recycling bin
4) save it for the janitor as they come by and give it to them to put in the recycling bin

Weird, huh?

Not weird to you? Well, the way I see it….why just throw the can away? Why *not* recycle? Why in the world would someone put their empty aluminum can in the trash can when a recycling bin sits right next to the trash can? Why would someone put the cans in their trash can at their desk when the janitor is more then willing to take their can to the recycling bin for them if they were to just save them?

The only thing I can come up with is people just truly don’t pay attention. Otherwise…why would they pick the trash can instead of the recycling bin when they are right next to another? Also…why would they throw their regular trash into the recycling bin?

In a broader sense, why do more people not recycle? Overseas its the norm, and expected. Trash service usually only allows *one* bag of actual trash to be put out weekly. All the rest of the trash that is produced is recycling. A bin is provided, recycling is placed in it and hauled away. (The process for separating it is facinating, by the way) Its easy and simple.

So why don’t more people do it?

I have to confess that I don’t….yet. I plan on calling my trash company tomorrow and getting a recycling bin so I can start actually doing it.

Oh….I’m Fin by the way 🙂 I’m not as verbose as Fate….but I do have more opinions!

–Fin