Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, and Throw Glass and Cardboard into the Trash?

I remember watching the Sean Connery film Medicine Man for the first time. I was so inspired by the jungle, by the fight to cure cancer through the miracle of nature, by Dr. Campbell and Dr. “Bronx” that I banded together with my fellow neighborhood young environmentalists and declared the day International Rainforest Conservation Day. We roamed around our neighborhood with our faces painted like the original Medicine Man paints Bronx’s face in the film, wore khaki shorts and hiking boots, and soapboxed about saving the earth to everyone we encountered.

Its funny how when you are young you have no real concept of time – six months is forever and the age 30 is ancient. But even if those lapses in understanding were present on the International Rainforest Conservation Day, somehow my underdeveloped brain processed the crisis of the environment an immediate. As threatening. They are cutting down trees?? Animals are dying? Species are going extinct? My soda can is pollution?

I felt the weight of environmental destruction on my shoulders as I built compost bins with my best friend and pestered my mother for eggshells and coffee grounds with which to fill it.

As I grew older, much of the world of the Lazy Layman’s Urban Guide to Saving the World became routine. Of course there is a blue recycling bin under my desk at work. Of course I turn the water off when I brush my teeth. Why wouldn’t I bring my reusable grocery bags with me to the store? The passion that trademarked the early stages of my relationship with the environment has morphed into a passive companionship. I do my part but never think twice.

I’ve recently rekindled some of the romance the green earth and I had once shared. It wasn’t a statistic about the rapid decay of our resources, or the upcoming release of Disney’s Oceans (a companion to Earth), or even a late night rewatching of the origin of my environmentalism, Medicine Man. It was the realization that my new apartment building doesn’t recycle. Doesn’t recycle? Doesn’t even play its part in the Lazy Layman’s Urban Environmental Action Plan? Doesn’t even passively protect the ground on which we walk? How is this possible? I’m supposed to throw my recyclables in the same bag as real actual waste?

Chicago has a sad history of fake recycling (remember the Blue Bag Program?) but 10 years after the beginning of this millennium, it is criminal to throw bottles and cardboard boxes into a landfill.

Any advice on how I get involve in this fight? Who controls local recycling programs? Who do I complain to?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In The Absence of Lunchmeat

The location of my new apartment is ideal. Its right in the middle of everything. I have an international assortment of restaurants and all the shopping that’s necessary (vintage/independent stores and DSW and Marshalls). I am also a brisk three minute walk to the train (assuming I hit green lights), nearby clubs and dive bars, and right at the corner of cross town buses. My sister lives only a couple miles away and my work a quick ride on a reverse commute train. Seems pretty nice, right? There is really only one thing missing from my neighborhood. Lunchmeat. Yeah, seriously.

There isn’t a super grocery store, and there isn’t a little deli-type market nearby. There is a Whole Foods, but even in my most yuppie of moments I was still not in my element enough to navigate that place. If there was lunchmeat, I sure didn’t find it.

At first I didn’t think this was too much of a big deal – I mean, its just one item on my grocery list, right? Wrong. I find myself frequently focusing on my lack of sliced turkey. When I pack my lunch each day I skim the fridge—whats in there? Some leftover pasta? A few slices of frozen pizza? I guess I could throw some peanut butter between two slices of bread, but its just not the same. I didn’t know this about myself, but I apparently have one specific idea of what “Making my lunch” means.

Two Slices of wheat bread
One slice of cheese (preferably not government cheese, but willing to compromise)
Yellow Mustard

Cheezits (or other similar baked cracker-like object)
Piece of fruit

Possible Soda, if I’m feeling generous.
Water from ye olde Nalgene bottle

I know. This is a post about lunchmeat—which is kind of ridiculous – but I think part of my desire to post about this predicament is how confused my daily life can become with just one switch up. I didn’t really notice my lack of lunchmeat when I was grilling out everyday in Austin, or when I was living out of my old bedroom at my mom’s house. I just noticed when I got back into 9 to 5ing, suddenly there was a gap in my routine, a gap that made me (for the first couple weeks) to resort to PotBelly sandwiches for lunch, but now, I’m trying to make my lack of lunchmeat cause me to be more creative!

2010 is a year of opportunities, a year of creating new routines, finding new passions. This is the Year of 52 Adventures.

Tonight for dinner I made what I’m calling a gourmet Jacks frozen pizza. I had a pizza in my fridge, it sounded delicious. So I added Andouille sausage, sliced green peppers and stewed tomatoes. It was rad, and in a world without lunchmeat- the second half will be lunch tomorrow at work!