Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sun Chips Bag Update

Sun Chips' non-compostable bag and MY favorite flavor - IN FRENCH!

Ok, I figured I'd just make a new post about this since people barely read my blog as it is, I'm guessing that no one is going to go back to read posts if they've already read them.

First off, you might be wondering, "Lyndsie, why do you care so much about a stupid chip bag? I know you don't even eat chips that often..." Well, I am excited because this is evidence of a big corporation getting on board with the eco-friendly stuffs. Even if it's only a drop in the bucket as far as big companies go, every drop still counts! This is the same reason why I care that Big Red made a Big Deal about their paper wrappers.

For the original post, go here.

So, I discovered this weekend that it seemed like Sun Chips had run away like a scared little girl from all the "bag's-too-loud whiners". Now the only bag that's compostable (according to their Garden Salsa and Harvest Cheddar bags) is the Original "blue" flavor. Which is still good but way inferior to the other two. However, according to Sun Chips' website they are actually working on a new, quieter compostable bag. In their words, they're "putting the finishing" touches on this product which makes me think that it's going to come out soonish. I really hope that's the case. And hey, quieter would be good but I'd be happy with the old crackley bag.
Interesting side note, Sun Chips' website also has links for following them in their journey for the best bag, how-tos for composting and their "mission statement" for their compostable bag. So that's pretty cool.

Frito-Lay makes a variety of tasty products. (I don't believe in their "Natural" Ruffles tho b/c most potato chips only have 3 ingredients anyway - potatoes, oil, salt).
Now time for a tiny rant. Sun Chips is owned by Frito-Lay so why didn't Frito-Lay make all their bags compostable? I can see that maybe they were just testing it out w/ Sun Chips, but I have never heard anything about F-L considering going 100% compostable. So this whole composting thing that is making people (me) so excited is, in some ways, just a bs marketing scheme or "green washing" as they say. *sigh* At least is aa start...I guess. Let's hope that the quite compostable bag is a success and then the company decides to switch all of its brands, sizes and products to this same bag. Is that too optimistic? I'm tryin' really hard!

R-E-C-Y-C-L-E According to Rocko

The other day, I was reminded of a song about the environment from Rocko's Modern Life, one of the cartoons I watched as a kid. This was probably done in the mid- to late 90s, before even Boulder did city-wide composting. It is extremely catchy and to this day I have the chorus memorized:

You need to R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, recycle!
And C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E, conserve!
And don't P-O-L-L-U-T-E, pollute the river, sky or sea
Or else you're gonna get what you deserve!

So now, please join me and Captain Compost Heap in this fun and responsible little ditty! (You now know the chorus, so no excuse not singing along!).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Score 1 for Lyndsie and Composting!

Right when I heard that the Peloton was going to cancel the composting service I posted a note on the Peloton's Facebook fan page with my thoughts.  I was thinking that nothing would come of it and I was unsure it was even going to be responded to but the following conversation ensued: 

Me:  At least I used to like this community. Now that they're canceling the composting service I'm not too sure. My family has been using it religiously since it began and we were very excited for this option. It advertises as this progressive, Boulder-type facility but in practice maybe they're not so much.
Peloton: Lyndsie, thanks for your candid feedback. The HOA is managing the composting program. They recently polled The Peloton homeowners and unfortunately a large percent of the homeowners who responded choose to cancel the program. There are other options being considered for the few who want to keep the program in tact. Please check in with the HOA office to share your thoughts. They truly do their best to make decisions for the whole community based upon the majority votes.
Me: Thanks for your comment! I have contacted the HOA and board as well as some of the residents. What I would be really interested in knowing is why some residents voted to cancel it. I have been slowly gathering opinions via email from some of them and I'm getting a better idea. Also, I am interested in having a more active role in the community to work on things like sustainability. I believe that if we get enough people to care, we can work out something to help all residents!
Peloton: That's great news Lyndsie. There is currently a Sustainability Committee in place, however I understand they are in need of a homeowner lead to take on some projects. You might really enjoy this role if you have the time and capacity within your schedule. There is no limit to what The Peloton community can achieve with passionate homeowners such as yourself!
Peloton: Lyndsie, I just wanted to let you know that I confirmed there is a possibility for composting to continue for the homeowners who are interested in sustaining it on their own. Please contact the HOA office for more information. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

WOOHOO!! As it appears, no one has brought this up until now. And that's what's so important about environmental issues, don't just assume that someone else is taking care of it. That first post took me under 5 minutes to write and look at the change it's made so far! How great is that? So yeah, people, speak up!!! You never know what kinds of  good you'll do.

p.s. I also wanted to give 1 point to social media, namely Facebook, for being an important factor in communication and change.  Social Media is no longer just for being social, it works on proactivism too! (I made that word up, but I like it better than just "activism" because it sounds like you're really trying to do something good).

\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/

Monday, October 25, 2010

Compost Complaints: Lyndsie vs. The Peloton

Peloton: 1.5

This is the score for my new war against "not composting". Here's the backstory:

My apartment complex, The Peloton started composting on a 6-month trial period (I'm sure some of you have read my excitement in an early post).  Well, the 6 months is up and the board has voted to not maintain the composting service. Now, this really toasted my bread (as they say) and I've began making contact with the other residents to get a feel for their attitudes. It turns out that so far the majority of people support composting with only one nay-sayer. In a bit I will post some resident responses but first I'm going to post my letter to The Peloton (aka Hammersmith Properties).  You don't have to read all of this, but I feel that I need to get my voice out there any way I can.

      I hear that the Peloton board has decided to cancel their composting service by the end of this month. My family started composting right when the trial service was set up and have loved doing it ever since. It has caused us to accumulate much less trash and has led us to feel like we are making a positive impact on the environment. It has also helped us teach our 4 year old about reducing trash and improving the quality of the world we live in. We voted to keep the composting service as we believe that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

     I have been talking to some of the residents and it seems that people are still interested in utilizing the compost service. This is also something that I feel very strongly about. I feel that it's very important to contribute to Boulder County's Zero Waste initiative. I’ve noticed that the Peloton’s advertisement is “Going green in Boulder.” But how can you claim this without offering services like composting? The website says that going green starts outside of the residents’ windows, but why not work on both the outside and the inside of the premises?

     I have some questions as to why the service is being cancelled. The email says that there is a lack of resident participation, but I am wondering how this was determined. Have they taken into account that some residents of the Peloton are only seasonal and live for most of the year somewhere else? Also, I'm guessing you were relying on survey data and it's likely that some of the residents haven't filled out the surveys or didn't even receive them? I, for one, am not even on your email list though I have asked to be included... Also, I heard that there is something called a "sustainablity committee" at the Peloton in which I did express interest on the survey, but there has not been any more communication on the subject. I don't know what that charge is for composting through Western Disposal but I have started doing research and am willing to do more research or anything I can do to help with the Peloton's sustainability intiatives. I know of a couple other people who would be interested in meeting to talk about this as well. I think what what happened is that everyone thought someone else was taking care of it, which is why no one has stepped forward yet. But I am willing to rally people to help and share their voice so we can keep the services like composting, recycling etc.
I'm annoyed with the cancellation of this policy because it will just increase the amount of trash the community puts out and that will just go into the landfills and create waste and methane gas. Niether of which is good. Also, Boulder County has a Zero Waste Initiative where they encourage people to recycle and compost, along with other waste-reducing efforts. I don't know if composting is required by the regulations, but even so it should be a service offered. Besides, The Peloton claims it is going green which is hypocritical of them to say if they stop offering these services. Also, I'm annoyed because I hadn't even heard that the Peloton had a Sustainablity Committee, much less was I given the opportunity to join it.
So I started by emailing all the residents whose email addresses I could find in the directory and, like I said, most of the responses were positive (which is why I awarded myself 0.5 point):  
  • " I think it is a good idea, and I hope the logistics can be worked out to avoid the abuses that led to its demise."
  • " If we were at the Pelton more than a few weeks a year, we would want composting, too."
  • "I too am very disappointed!  I bought a counter compost container immediately and have composted this whole time.  I wrote Polly an email telling her how disappointed I am about the cancellation."
 However, I did get one semi negative response (which is why the Peloton get 0.5 points):
  • "We got your inquiry about the composting. We are not adverse to the concept but the set up for bins in the garage is totally unacceptable to us. It created a great deal of odor in a garage already burdened buy sewage and automobile odors. Stepping out of the elevator into such  an unpleasant  surrounding is not what we consider acceptable."
"Ok, so you'd rather contribute tons of waste a year to a landfill thus decreasing our earth space and increasing our methane gas emission than be in discomfort for the 10-20 seconds it takes to walk to your car?" Sigh...people at the complex complain about all kinds of ridiculous things but this one might take the cake. I mean, where did this guy decide that he was so entitled? Yeah, he pays HOA fees, but so does everyone? Do you REALLY think your personal pet peeve is worth making the rest of the inhabitants sacrafice something? And to tell the truth, I don't think it smells in there at all - they have giant fans that blow for quite some time and I don't usually go around in parking garages taking deep, lung-filling breaths.

Anyway...I found out that while we have "in theory" a Sustainability Committee, in practice no one is actually on it. So, that is my goal - to get on (or be!) the Committee and start firing up other residents and/or helping to make my apartment complex a better place to live that's also nice on the environment. I really hope I can make a difference, but if it comes down to it, pitting me against vocal and entitled (and probably MUCH OLDER) residents like the one above might be a losing battle.

If anyone can or wants to help me in this, I need all assistence, tips and encouragement that I can get! Oh, and if you care about this stuff, I'd recommend not buying a unit here and go w/ a house with no stinky HOA or board people.

EDIT: I gave the Peloton an extra point because technically, the compost service is going to end in a few days, so they've already achieved that. And I gave myself another 0.5 point for knocking on the door of some residents today and talking to them about it (they agreed w/ me!).

These tiny, tiny flies live in my compost and while they are annoying, they don't seem to be doing anyone any harm. And my cats love to eat them. =)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking About Water

In the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about water. It started a few months ago when I read a glamour article about the grandaughter of that great sea explorer whose name I've forgotten. But she is a water activist now and is trying to teach people how to conserve water.It encouraged me to keep doing what I've been doing as far as pouring leftover drinking water (glasses of water etc) into my plants or the cat/dog bowl, but didn't really take hold of my thoughts. It was striking to me, however, and led me to muse about it now and again.

Then, yesterday, I read some articles about people in New Delhi around the Yamuna river who are upper-middle and middle class and don't even have consistent running water (even though they have pipes). 20-40% of New Delhi's water is lost from leakage due to poor pipe construction and old pipes. This woman has to be even more careful with her water usage and consistently reuses it for other things. She also pays over $45 US dollars (a week?) for 3 different sources of water - running water bill, tanker truck and neighborhood drilled well. She talked about how after she wakes up at 6a.m. she spends her day worrying about how she's going to get water that day.

Then you've got all the lower-middle and lower classes who have no access to running water. The women have to spend their days waiting for water tankers and fighting over water. One woman had to quit her job just so she could wait for water. And even then, a lot spills out into the streets from people filling their jugs. Not to mention the fact that they have open sewers flowing down their streets with unprocessed human waste in them. There are not enough treatment plants to process waste and also little to no restriction on dumping waste in rivers. All this stuff flows down into the Yamuna river, the river that New Delhi was founded on and, ironically, is still considered sacred and holy.  However, this river is pretty much a sewer itself with clumps of waste floating in it and methane bubbles coming from the surface.Despite this, people still bathe, wash clothes, play and work in it. A lot of children a year die from diarrhea and other feces-related deaths before the age of 5. But a lot of those people have no choice. 
Waste from New Delhi pouring into the Yamuna River 

But this is not unique to India.  One blogger talks about how stuff like this is even done in more modern countries like Spain making it risky to drink from the rivers there as well. (I got the picture at the beginning from his blog).  He states facts like "More than 800 million human beings don't have access to safe drinking water of any type, and more than 2.000 million people don't have access to water for sanitation purposes."

So, yeah, water is scarce, they've been telling us that for years, right? Well, right but that doesn't mean that we, in America, can't do something to help. Now I don't really know where our water comes from or goes (water tables and all that) but I do know that even though Colorado has gone through "droughts" we still have water coming out of our taps, our showers and our sprinklers. So the parks had to stop watering their very thirsty Kentucky blue grass? Who cares! We still are waaay luckier than most countries.

Now this is what I'm thinking:  why don't we work on conserving water as well? I know it'll be hard for y'all to give up your 20 minute long showers and that impossibly green lawn, but I think that if we at least cut back in a few ways, it will help. I have thought of some great ways to reduce your water consumption.

1). Don't throw water down the sink! You're finished with that glass of water and you've let it sit there for a few days.  I know that it will taste kinda gross now and I'd rather have a fresh one. But you know who doesn't care? The plant, that lawn, and the dog. Pour the water in there instead.

2). Try to do the 20 minutes showers only on weekends or special-occasion days. I think 7 minutes is what the experts say, but I would time myself to see how long it takes. If you feel that it takes you way to long for your normal routine, think about ways you can cut back. Like, I used to turn off the water when I shaved my legs and after a while I got lazy and stopped. (and I intend to start again, you hecklers!)

3). Make your loads of laundry as full as possible because fewer large loads take less water than many small ones (I read this somewhere, can't remember where now). 

4). Run the water lightly when hand-washing dishes instead of on full tilt. Only use that setting if you need the pressure for the spayer or something.

5). This one is for you PUBLIC WORKS people and BUSINESSES - don't water the grass when it's raining. I mean WTF? Really? I know we, like, NEVER get rain here but seriously. When we do, we should make use of it. Is there some sort of rain meter that can automatically shut of sprinklers when it rains? If there is, everyone should install one.

6). Maybe we could even get really crazy and use small buckets of water to wash and rinse sponges when cleaning counters and stuff? Then only run the water for the final wash....This may not work but I think I'll try it.

7). Ok, seriously, why do medians here have grass on them? Who the F cares about medians? Put some nice rocks or pretty local plants there instead, then you wouldn't have to waste water on something that a person's going to see for less than 5 minutes. 

Ok, this post is getting really long so I'll stop here. I'm sure I've missed stuff, so please post your water-saving strategies. But whatever you do, please keep thinking about water! C'mon ppl!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunchips bag - Loud AND PROUD

Oh Sun Chips...How I love your multigrain taste and your Harvest Cheddar flavor is like the crack of the chip world. I really don't care if your ingredients are healthier for me or not (54 grams of fat anyone?) but I like to think that the whole grains are really givin' my body the love because they sure are giving my tastebuds some lovin'.

Now, Imagine my surprise when I learn that my beloved Sun Chips have made a compostable bag! WOOHOO world! Now I can buy the most ultimatelytastey chips in the whole world and not feel bad about throwing away the bag. So I do just that and first off I think "HOLY MOLY this bag is loud!" I had to go into the kitchen at work and pour the chips on a plate so I could eat them. 

However, I didn't really give this event much thought. I what? It's a loud bag, but it will biodegrade fast and turn into dirt. I can't complain about that. Though it seems that my fellow Americans took this loudness a bit too seriously. According to the Facebook page: I'm sorry but I can't hear you over this Sun Chips bag Frito-Lay, maker of Sun Chips, is considering switching back to the normal bag because of secret snackers. (Article at bottom).

Here are a few comments from the site.

  • "My hubby said not to buy them anymore because of that bag...."
  • "I'll be honest-I love the fact they were trying to go green...but that thing is SO annoying!"
  • "Dump them into a tuperware container and get over it."
  • "oh yes because a little noise is way less important then the filling of our landfills. If they switch back, I wont eat them again."
  •  "Score: tender ears of the consumer: 1 the Environment: 0"  (sarcasm= positive?)
Smart Facebooker?
"....I suspect that, if these bags break down in a few months, that really limits their shelf lives - especially if the chips were packaged more than a few weeks since the bags were manufactured. And what breaks them down? Do they break downs with moisture? Does a humid environment like Nashville in August shorten the life of those bags? Frankly, I think it was a good idea, but probably didn't work very well."

Maybe the smart Facebooker does have a point. I don't presume to understand how plant-based products work fully, but I can see a valid concern here.  And when you combine that with the noise factor, should Frito-Lay drop its loud bag in favor of garbage dump clogging pastic? Um...NO! Hello people! Really? Did anyone say yes to this? If you did I'm ashamed of youz!  However, there is talk of discontinuing this bag. There is also research going on to reduce the noise factor. I like that latter and I hope they continue with being earth-friendly rather than indulging lazy, overly-sensitive, salt-and-fat-loving Americans. 

I am just here to give some of the love back to Sun Chips and to send my encouraging voice out through the blogosphere. YOU GO, SUN CHIPS! Let's hope these negative complaints dissolve as quickly as your awesome bad in a compost heap!

You can read more about the bag's challenges HERE. 

P.S. what do I have to do to become a secret snacker? ROCK!

EDIT: Apparently Sun Chips ran away like a scared little girl from all the "bag's-too-loud whiners". Now the only bag that's compostable (according to their Garden Salsa and Harvest Cheddar bags) is the original "blue" flavor. Which is still good but way inferior to the other two. Way to drop the ball on that one, Jerkfaces...