Saturday is shit. Nothing but waste. Hope is gone.

When I started this, I barely considered time as something to be wasted. We say it all the time — “We’re WASTING time.” But today I wasted a whole Saturday.

I woke up at 10 a.m. Respectable. Ate some granola. Tried to do homework. Got super sleepy. Laid down on the floor (I couldn’t even get across the room to my couch) and fell asleep. Woke up an hour later, moved to the couch, and fell asleep. Woke up an hour later, and moved to my bed. Fell asleep. At 1:30 p.m. I finally dragged myself out of dreamland, disoriented and upset for having wasted my morning, but extremely well-rested.

To make amends, I hopped in the car and drove to Campbell’s Nutrition store in search of bulk bins — which they have in plenty. They serve organic and local brands, and encourage reusable shopping bags. However, for bulk bins, shoppers use a plastic bag and twisty tie to hold stuff. Sigh.

I bought ingredients to make homemade granola. (My breakfast this morning set my stores dangerously low, and instead of buying another wasteful box, I want to make some). Yum.

I also stopped at Wally World to buy yarn bombing supplies. The woman in front of me bought four wine glasses, each of which the cashier wrapped with mounds of paper and a plastic shopping bag. I watched him wrap for 5 minutes. I haven’t used a grocery sack all week. This woman was using one per item.

On the way home, I lurched into New City Market just to see what they had and found a selection and more bulk bins than Campbells. I bought a bag of yerba mate — a tea-like infusion from South America that gives you a kick of energy without the crash and jitters of caffeine. Plus, the leaves I bought don’t come in tea bags, so I can avoid waste by brewing it in my gourd and bombilla.

Bulk bins at New City Market

I came home, juggling all my non-bagged purchases like a buffoon, and set to work on making granola. All went smoothly. I was jamming to my favorite granola-cooking music — Neon Trees and The Virgins — and it was going to be an absolutely delicious batch of granola.

But . . . I burned it.

Sad, lonely, burned granola.

I was so mad and sad and depressed that I couldn’t even do my angry dance. This was waste at its finest. I wasted time. I wasted money. I wasted food. (It’s inedible by the way. I tried.)

So now what? Conclude that my Week Without Waste can’t be done? Maybe. I haven’t had a day this week that was truly waste-free. But, the fighter in me can’t end on defeat. So I’m stretching my Week Without Waste to a Week and a Half Without Waste. I’m going to give the granola another go. Keep buying from bulk bins. Sit more in the dark. Sleep less.

And try not burn anything. Bring it on.


Fail fail fail. Fail.

  • Coffee. (One simple thing. So many problems). I never finish a cup of coffee, no matter the size. There’s always that inch at the end — the cold, nasty, undrinkable one. Yesterday I mixed it with chocolate. Eghhh. Today I saved it, heated it up (blegh) and flooded it Coffee-Mate Italian sweet creme. Megh. Once, I just couldn’t do it. So I fed it to Stanley. My plant. He seems to like it (see above).
  • Razor. Needed a new one. What to do with the dull one?
  • Cut myself shaving. Coffee + new razor = knicks galore. Like three of them. To avoid making a huh-UGE mess, I reached for a square of TP. Ew.
  • Band-Aid. Too much blood. Even though I’m still wearing the Band-Aid now, it produced three waste items from the packaging. You know.

But now for the wins! (always end on a good note).

  • Beer. I went to ReadyMade’s launch party tonight to meet the big guy, Andrew Wagner, and the new web editor, Liz Armstrong. They kindly bought me a beer, and luckily it was a draft (PBR, of course). No environment was harmed in my participation in this party.
  • Food. Ate leftovers today, sat in the dark, and tried not to use too much silverware. Still ended up using like four utensils. Gotta work on that. But at least the leftovers were good.
  • Snot rocket. Yep. I blew my nose into the sink today. Even though this supremely grossed out my roommate, I saved a tissue. Major win. On a similar note, I haven’t used a paper towel in two days.

Oh, and I received an email from No Impact Man on what to eat that won’t produce waste. His solution: “bulk bins and produce.” Check. I’m scoping out Gateway Market, and New City Market tomorrow to see what they offer… Any other suggestions?

Sorry I didn’t tell you ALL about my first waste-free day. It’s because I failed. Already.

I thought this would be a breeze. Nope. I got out of bed. Poured some cereal (the box of which is almost empty), and reached for the milk. Sealed. Dammit! I did a groggy little angry dance (something I’d repeat throughout the day with varying degrees of enthusiasm).

I really wanted cereal, so I put the seal on the counter, too ashamed to throw it away. Later, I pinned it to my bulletin board with Sunday night’s fortune cookie fortune: “You have the ability to analyse and solve any problem.”

I’ve had several slip-ups in the past two days.

  • Coffee. Yes, I broke down and bought coffee — but I brought my own mug. And then reached for a sugar packet. Wait. Nope. Try again. Half and half? NOPE. No stir stick. Gah!! Angry dance (still groggy). Black coffee it is.
  • Public bathrooms. Automatically wave hand under automatic paper towel dispenser. Rip. Dry. Throw awa — GAH! Noooo! Do angry dance with fist pump, cursing the automatic paper towel dispenser. Angrily shove wet paper towels in book bag. Proceed to explain situation to professors, roommate, and others who see me carrying around wet paper towels. Pout.
  • Lunch. I immediately feel guilty for throwing all my trash away the night before. Yeah, I have tuna salad and bread, but what can I eat that never came in a package? An onion? My green pepper? I don’t see anything else. However, a week without waste means no waste. No matter if I’ve already cheated, I can’t throw away any food in my fridge.
  • Hummus. Again with the seal! I thought I was in the clear, because I’m going to save the hummus bowl to reuse. But no. Stupid. Seal makes one more non-compostable item. BUT, ask me what I ate with my hummus. Homemade whole wheat bread, Indian style. It was delicious, nutritious, and produced NO waste.

Paper towels are the hardest to avoid. I make a conscious effort now not to grab one after washing my hands. Luckily they’re compostable, so I saved the two I used yesterday. I put them in a Tupperware container with two apple cores and some pepper stems. At the end of this week I’m going to compost everything in The Box (see photos above). Although, I might relocate it. It’s starting to smell.

For one week, I am going to live a waste-free life. Or, at least try. Since Tuesday when I (they) decided that I’d do this, I’ve been very conscious of everything I throw away. It’s kind of a lot. It’s not just packages, disposable cups, post-its, paper plates, junk mail, etc. It’s also stickers on fresh fruit. Milk top-opener things. Tea bags.

And I had a panic moment today when I realized I can’t drink coffee all week. Stupid filters.

I’m having trouble preparing. Do I buy groceries now, and throw away wrappings and put things in baggies before I start this week? What do I do about apple cores and banana peels? (And coffee grounds!?) Do I need to feel guilty about using toilet paper? (I will continue to use TP, don’t worry. But I hate my teacher for pointing out that it’s really waste.)

And Robb pointed out that I can’t eat out, either. Whatever I order will produce waste, even if I can’t see it.

Furthermore, this week is not just about garbage. Waste to me means excess energy, food, water, transportation, etc. So I’ll unplug everything when I’m not using it, take quicker showers, and keep the lights off when I can. (Yes, I know these are all step 1 for green living. But I can never remember to actually do them.)

So, again, I need your help. If you have any tips, or if you’ve tried to go waste-free yourself, send me suggestions! I’d love to hear them.

[image from GG Artwork]

Look out Des Moines. I am going to yarn bomb. I pitched a story for Urban Plains Magazine about this new trend in urban art, but’s it’s taken an unexpected and *personal* twist. I was going to write about the evolution of yarn bombing and Magda Sayeg, a knitter from Austin. She wanted to bring a homemade touch back to the cold concrete jungle, so she started knitting stop sign wraps and rain gutter cozies. She has “tagged” doors and poles and rails — even a bus.

But unfortunately, miss Knittaplease has never tagged anything in the Midwest.

So, since the UP people need Midwest stories for their killer new Midwestern magazine, my editor Emily Cook and I decided that I should make it happen. Hence, I. Will. Knit. And yarn bomb. Disclaimer: I can’t knit curved things. I only knit in straight lines (scarf anyone?). Ask me to make a hat, glove, or, god forbid, a stop sign cozy, and I choke.

I’m going to do some serious studying before I set out, but I need your help!

If you know a) How to knit, or b) How to yarn bomb, or c) If you really really want to help me tag the town, TELL ME YOUR SECRETS.

And then we can collaborate and take over the world. Er, Des Moines.

[image from paperpocket]

This absurd little bird is my new favorite thing. I suddenly want a huge poster of this photo, and I have no idea why. Am I crazy or is there something fascinating here?

Ok, let’s talk spontaneity. Have you ever decided on whim to go on a 1,019-mile road trip? Until today, I hadn’t. In fact, before today that kind of road trip probably would have scared me more than hanging out with a super mega redneck-eating worm.

Luckily, my co-conspirator, Matt, is not nearly so intimidating. During a serious digression from homework, we decided that it was time we seriously considered doing this thing. Ten minutes of serious thinking later, we were bouncing in our chairs like 4-year olds with a whole pillowcase of Halloween candy. Consequently, I *think* (read, ‘know’) me, @MATTVAS, and hopefully two others will be spending Oct 30 on the mall with 25,000 other Jon Stewart supporters.

Why? Good question. Here are the most rational answers I can come up with:

  1. The Epic Factor. Let’s be honest. Senior year. Best of friends. 1,000 plus miles. Any questions?
  2. Doability. With @MATTVAS‘s crazy cool new car, we get 36 miles to the gallon. We’re pretty sure we can get there and back for less than $200. We both have friends in DC to stay with, and we plan on eating PB&J’s all weekend. Four people. $50 each. WIN. Plus, Thursday night to Monday morning means we don’t miss any classes.
  3. Satire. Yes. I’m in a satire class now, and have been studying the crap out of Stewart, Colbert, and the science of making fun of people. This is a flat-out satirical protest — the only one my teacher has ever heard of. Serious satire played out vastly public stage and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This just in! Robb is coming too! We are 75 percent ready to go. But yikes, we’ve done no homework. Ok. I officially declare this digression over. Let the countdown begin.