Monday Nights

Tue 4/10/2007

Because the first floor of my building is a knitting factory, the entire building is classified as an "industrial space" (as opposed to a "residential space"). This has a few weird ramifications, most notably that I'm pretty sure we are all living in this building illegally (it's supposed to just be commercial studio space...)

Anyways, it also means that the city's recycling pick-up will not come to our building. For some reason they only pick up from residential spaces. (I'm sure we COULD get recycling pick-up, and there have been many requests, but the landlord has refused to sign up for it, probably because it's too expensive). So even though all the buildings around us get recycling pick up, if we put our recycling out front, it just stays there.

Which SUCKS.

I am from Seattle, where recycling has been totally commonplace since I was a little kid. And as many of you know, the thought of throwing out paper drives me completely and utterly insane.

So each Monday night for the last nine months I have snuck across the street in the middle of the night and placed my recycling in with that of my neighbors. It always feels really good, not just because I am making an effort to not destroy the earth (as much), but also just to take a small break, to be outside, in the night air, to look at the stars and to see the skyline of New York City in the distance. It is always one of my favorite moments of the week.

I really wish I could draw a nice picture to go along with this, of me sneaking across the street with the Empire State Building in the background, all lit up at night, but I'm too tired, my drawing hand hurts and I just don't have the time. Maybe next time...


13 comments on this entry

Holy shit dude, you're like some underground, powerless Captain Planet.

Matt Apr10

My wife and I ran a hotel/restaurant briefly in Mississippi. There were NO recycling places within an hour and a half. We would save our cans until we had a couple of garbage bags full, then give them to the next homeless person we saw looking in the dumpsters. It was the closest thing we could find.

You'd think in Atlanta it would be easier, but no dice. We've been able to find newspaper recycling, but no regular paper.

Chris S. Apr10

Yeah Chris, I still can't believe that recycling programs aren't more widespread. People make a big deal about global warming, yet they spend all day every day throwing paper into the landfills and more and more trees come down and it just keeps getting warmer and warmer.

Every morning on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue I pass a newspaper vendor handing out free newspapers (like 5 pages of content and 50 pages of advertising) and 10 feet away, on the corner is a TRASH can, filled with newspapers... And that's just ONE corner on ONE street in ONE city. What do NEW YORKERS care about trees? Most of them have probably never even SEEN a real tree! They cut down 75,000 trees to make ONE SUNDAY EDITION of The New York Times.


Can people please start getting their goddamn news from the internet??? JEEZ!

Alec Apr10

i really hate all the plastic bags that you get from stores. they add up really quickly. one thing i try to do is bring my own bags and have them put my food in those bags. it is a small thing to do, but i guess every little bit helps. but now the grocrey store won't let people do it anymore because you could be bringing stuff in those bags into the store. what a bunch of crap.

I don't think it's a real problem unless you fail to sort the trash properly. The neighbor could be charged a hefty fine for that error.

Arlene Apr10

It may keep you from popping an aneurism to know that the paper industry doesn't chop down new forest anymore, pretty much ever. Paper companies get nearly all of their lumber by growing it on rotating lots- in fact, in states like mine, Paper companies grow more trees to keep up with demand. If you want more trees, use more paper. They'll grow more to keep up and keep them cheap.

The industry that still cuts down swaths or rainforest and all that isn't the paper industry- they know better- it's the beef industry. Thoudands of acres are burned or cut every single day, much of it rainforest, to keep up with the demand for cheap beef.

Matt Apr10

Matt, I could not disagree with you more.


While there have been efforts to improve forestry practices there are still places in the United States (like where I'M from) and ALL OVER CANADA where paper and lumber companies are clearcutting plots of land and destroying the earth.

I'm not kidding. Fly into SeaTac airport or Vancouver B.C. It will break your fucking heart. All of the land, as far as you can see is a patchwork of clearcut plots. While larger companies might have plots of land where they are responsibly cycling their growth and cutting practices, this does not stop private land owners from selling their land and all of the trees on them.

You CAN NOT drive from Seattle to Portland without being passed at least once or twice by logging trucks carrying freshly cut trees to the mills.

Use every square inch of every piece of paper you have (on BOTH sides) and THEN recycle it. Use papers made out of alternative materials (banana, hemp, etc.) buy only recycled paper products and RECYCLE EVERYTHING. The paper tubes in your toilet paper can be recycled! Your TOILET PAPER should be made from recycled paper!!!

I have plans to assemble a lot of this information into a minicomic, but I (obviously) don't have time to work on this right now.

Alec Apr10

That's a sneaky little loophole I hadn't considered. Why is this so common in those areas? It seems like a quick fix for the companies, but it's not a very effective way to deal with those plots economically speaking- once they clear cut a plot it's unusable, and can't make more money. But I guess a shortsighted landowner seeking money wouldn't care about that.

How much of our paper is made up of wood gotten from these sorts of devious means? Is is a small percentage, or a major part of the total timber used?

Matt Apr10

I'm not positive that privately logged trees go towards paper production (I suspect lumber production is more likely) but just the fact that it is happening (CONSTANTLY) is reason enough to conserve what paper/trees we can!

Other exciting recent developments people should consider: Aluminum framing for houses (instead of 2x4s), Bamboo Plywood (!!?! Bamboo grows SO FAST), 100% recycled office paper (available at almost ANY Staples or Office Depot now), etc. etc. etc.


Alec Apr10

I think I should clarify that I don't disgree with a single thing you say about waste. I'll go one stronger and say I very much agree with it.

The difference here is whether woodland is being used like potatoes or like, say, coal. I'll explain that bizerre analogy.

Potatoes are grown for various commercial reasons. No one gets upset at all the potatoes we use, because we grow more. More potatoes are grown, if the demand is for more potatoes. Now, growing potatoes isn't the same as if the land were natural- the water and soil and animals in the area will all be affacted, and will be different than if it were untouched forest. But all in all, using some land to grow potatoes seems okay to most of us. Now, good paper companies treat trees the same way. Here in Maine our companies (for reasons that are likely more forced upon them than from the goodness of their hearts) do alot of conservations work, being required to keep a certain amount of their land totally untouched. In addition to this, the companies have figured out that treating trees as a crop to be grown rather than a resource to be plundered is way better economically.


Other folks see trees like coal. Coal mining is a nasty extraction process- you scalp a hiuge area of land, rip the very soil from it, and then eviscerate it until all that's left is a black hole and poisioned water. And the coal will never come back. Ever. Except in the form of gasses that will pollute the atmosphere. Clear cutting land is alot like this- it so thouroghly decimate the area that the land has to start from scratch, and the animals, plants, and water for literally miles around are all affected.

Now, I was under the impression (perhaps false) that the paper industry, at least, was treating trees like potatoes these days. I know that in my state this is pretty well true- the acrimony between the envoronmentalists and the paper companies is, if not gone, down to mild grumbling. It was on this basis that I was saying, you know, not wasting is good, but paper isn't what's bringing the forests down, anymore than french fries are bringing potatoes down.

However, the kind of clearcutting you speak of (I checked the areas you spoke of on google earth- you are right, is massive and disgusting GUTTING of the trees) is something I'm balls-to-the-wall against, and so the next question becomes for me, are paper companies buying that and using it for stock? Is that legal? Is the paper industry in these places taking advantage of greedy landowners to get cheap lumber? I would have a very, very serious problem with that.

Matt Apr10

Matt, we are on the same page. Go Potatoes! P.S. nice use of Google Earth! ;)

Alec Apr10

I seem to recall that shortly after Google earth came out it was used to bust a bunch of folks doing illegal cutting in the Northwest and in Canada, now that I think of it. I'll find you a link when I'm feeling ambitious.

Matt Apr10

You rock

WAM Apr11

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