Monday, April 21, 2008

Creating a Life Less Plastic: A Presentation

This weekend, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Justice Day Celebration, a conference held annually by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

This year's event, which was themed Planting Seeds of Sustainability, was intended to "provide participants with insights on the global impact of food purchasing habits as well as the effect of U.S. government policies on poverty levels and the environment."

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the first half of the conference, but from what I could tell, it seemed like a truly wonderful event.

As for my presentation, I thought it went really well, and the group of people who attended it were really great. Everyone had many comments and questions, and definitely gave me lots to think about.

My Presentation Slides

Read this doc on Scribd: Creating a Life Less Plastic

As follow-up to a few of the questions from my presentation, the vinegar rinse I use on my hair is basically a diluted solution of water and vinegar so it isn't harmful to the skin. However, if the solution gets in your eyes, you should still flush them with water.

For information on recycling in Chicago, below are a few links on the subject. I'm going to continue researching this and then post additional information as soon as I can put something together.

City of Chicago recycling info for residents of 1 to 4 unit buildings (Note that it says that you can only recycle plastic milk, juice, soft drink, water and laundry detergent bottles bearing the "1" or "2" symbol)
"The Awful Truth about Recycling in Chicago" (a scathing article from the Chicago Reader)

Here's an excerpt for the article:

"The Blue Bag program started citywide in December 1995, supervised by the Department of Environment. A year later the city claimed 12 percent of the trash it picked up was being recycled, which seems like a respectable figure for a new program— Calvin Tigchelaar, president of the Chicago Ridge-based Resource Management, which collects and processes recyclables from dozens of communities in the midwest, says recyclable commodities make up about a third of municipal solid waste. But the city’s own data show that the 12 percent figure was the total diverted—and half of it was liquid that simply evaporated from the trash. Other cities don’t include evaporated liquid in their calculations, and three industry officials burst out laughing when they heard that Chicago counted it.

The story was much the same over the next several years. In early 1997 residents of low-density buildings were encouraged to start blue bagging their yard waste with the understanding that Waste Management’s MRRF workers would pull it out of the trash and send it to composting companies. City officials included that waste in their new recycling rates and within a year were claiming a rate of 20 percent. Soon they were regularly announcing figures of between 25 and 30 percent, though yard waste was up to 20 percent of the total.

Yet the recycling rate for commodities has topped 10 percent only a few times since the Blue Bag program started. The peak was in December 1999: 10.3 percent. The number of people participating in the program keeps dropping, and almost no one in the city’s black and Latino neighborhoods recycles.

....Daley has repeatedly said that people just need to be educated about the Blue Bag program’s merits. This past winter his press secretary, Jackie Heard, said the ten-year-old program was merely off to a 'slow start.'"


divine_discontent said...

I recently found your blog while I was doing my own plastic-related research, and since then I have been reading it every week. I even have it bookmarked! I've become so concerned with my plastic use that I have tried out a few of your recommendations, and even kept track of my plastic use for one week.

I have a presentation for class due in a few weeks, and I have decided to do it on plastic. I was wondering if you could suggest some websites for me that would provide stats and some basic need-to-know information. (I know this is my problem, not yours, so I would appreciate any help you can offer.)

Keep fighting the good fight. And thanks in advance.

arduous said...

Wow! That's a kickass presentation! Congrats!! I love it. :)

ashley said...

I love your presentation. The only thing I don't agree with is only buying what you can use in two weeks. I love to buy my beans and whole grains in bulk (25 lbs. bags) I think having food storage is an important safe guard against trucking strikes, disaster, etc. I don't stock up on perishables, just food that can last a long time w/o refrigeration. Just my 2 cents.

The Green Cat said...

Your slides are great--concise and to the point. I'm linking to them over at my page. Thanks for sharing!

LifeLessPlastic said...

Ashley, Ah yes, there is definitely a case to be made for buying in large quantities. When I gave my presentation, though, there was more of a context of various waste prevention strategies for the average person. Surely some saavy people can deal with the complexities of buying in bulk, but in general, most people probably don't consume as much of those non-perishable items like beans and rice as we do :)

Going Crunchy said...

That is fan-freaking-tastic!!!! Way to go LLP. Excellent presentation. Did anybody record you? Can you You-Tube your presentation? Shannon

LifeLessPlastic said...

Thanks all for your nice comments! As for making a tape, that did not happen, although I must admit that I'm kind of glad it didn't. I think it would have made me nervous :)

Joyce said...

Hi, I just checked out your presentation and discovered you went to the U of I. I went there too, and live in Champaign. Your presentation is GREAT and I really appreciate all you are doing to make personal changes and educate others. Keep up the good work!

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Hi. I bookmarked this page when you first posted it and just haven't had enough time to get back and go through the whole presentation, as I meant to. But it looks great.

Question: Do you plan to do more of these? I know you didn't do all that prep work for just one performance, right? Please let me know because if so, I'll mention it on my blog and let people know you are available to do these in the Chicago area. Or wherever. Let me know.

Plastic Bloggers with Power Point unite!


Theresa said...

Wow - loved your slide presentation! Thanks for putting it up here for all of us to see and learn from !