Smile Politely

Nothing Here About Tax Money From Drug Deals or Lecturing Others

Welcome to Champaign-Urbana, which was tenth in the Top Green Cities list 2007, by Country Home magazine, in conjunction with Sperling’s BestPlaces — although in 2008 we have moved down to #56. (And I cannot believe that Boston-Quincy, Mass. is higher than us, I think they paid someone off.)

This article was originally going to be about how to deal with the repercussions (on the playground) of teaching your child to practice non-violence, and how to lecture any other child who attempts to hurt, maim, or take something away from your own child, but if I wrote it, I would piss off a lot of people, most of whom are related to me.

Then I was going to write about my proposal that If Drug Deals Are Going On Near My House, I Should Get A Cut Of The Action (the money, I mean) — and couldn’t that be taxed somehow to help us build roads and schools or at least pay for the fireworks next year? But then I thought that’s probably a really bad idea too.

So instead I’ll just smile politely and talk innocuously and inoffensively about throwing shit away.

Slim Your Garbage!

Our friends have rain barrels and front-yard gardens. I’m encountering two to three bicyclists on the road when I ride the Ex-Toddler to work these days, which is one to two more than I encountered last year at this time. The co-op’s going to be in bed with the Farmer’s Market soon and a new day will dawn. The Husband wants to start a greywater program between the bathtub and the toilet like this. I went to Do-It-Best and bought a bunch of chicken wire and made The Husband create a wire-mesh compost bin which is where we throw all our strawberry and carrot tops and broccoli bottoms.

And I’m thinking about recycling.

Some inhabitants of Champaign don’t trust that the garbage companies actually recycle the recycling they pick up, and if you do accidentally leave Too Much Cardboard outside, you’ll get a really nasty note in ALL CAPS THAT TELLS YOU WHAT THEY WILL ACCEPT. So, we take our recycling up to the area next to Home Depot (try to make sure you get there when the bins are not overflowing).

Do not bring the recycling in your SUV unless you’re bringing the Food Co-op’s or entire neighborhood’s recycling with you. I smarmily drove The Prius (53 mpg today) filled with plastics, paper and cardboard (from the Food Co-op) to recycling, with the air-conditioner off, only to encounter a guy on a bike pulling a platform trailer with his recyclables. “No, really,” he assured me, “it’s nice that you have that type of car, really. It’s the First Step.”

So in short, if you have to actually take a car to recycling, make sure it’s at least a hybrid and don’t have the air-conditioning on — you hog — or you should have the neighborhood’s recycling with you. Or you’re on your way to Wal-Mart II to pick up a giant plastic wading pool and some deer-killing ammunition and recycling just happened to be on your way.

What are you not recycling, by the way? We have switched to using the evil small grocery bags that we get when we forget to bring the reusable bags to the co-op, for garbage bags! We throw almost everything into the compost heap, or recycling — there are very, very few things nowadays that are not marked with that little plastics number on them! Over the past five days, I threw away only a few things — a couple of eggshells (and I didn’t know until now that you could compost them if you crush them) and the tiny plastic wrap from around a new bottle of soy sauce.

In fact, the other things we’ve thrown away now let us know that something might be wrong. Moldy pizza in the last bag of garbage — we must have made too much pizza. Cooked food can’t go into the compost heap, so if there’s leftovers we are aware now that we made too much. And those giant milk cartons – I called up the recycling here to ask if I could recycle them – the answer was “yes” – and then I said, “are you sure?” and then was told, “oh, no, you can’t.” You can google milk carton recycling; it seems like it takes a community effort to initiate this type of thing. And forget about tetrapaks – they seem new-age but when I emailed Tetrapak I was told I’d have to ship mine to Europe if I wanted to recycle them. Sad.

But… we no longer buy new fluorescent orange Tide jugs anymore; we just bring an old plastic jug to the co-op and refill it every so often. Same with the dishwashing liquid, the olive oil, and the peanut butter! Bulk stuff is awesome.

So this week, take a good look at what you’re throwing away – chances are, most of it is recyclable! And let me know what you find.

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