Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We solve a tricky problem

When we lived in Illinois we had curbside recycling of basically everything - glass, all kinds of plastic (except 3 & 5), mixed paper. When we moved to Wichita we were surprised at how backward the city is in this regard (now there's a sentence I could write 100 times). The garbage collection is franchised, which means that rather than having one company pick up for the whole neighborhood, each individual pays an individual company to come and pick up their trash. Supposedly we're the biggest city in the country that does it this way, and it has a bad effect on the streets, because if you've got 3 garbage trucks using a city street obviously there's going to be more need for street repair. (Which they don't really do, because it would actually involve taxes!)

But that's not what I'm talking about - what I'm talking about is recycling. There's one of these companies that offers curbside recycling, and they pick up aluminum, newspapers and white paper, and corrugated boxes. No glass, no mixed paper, no mixed plastic. It only costs an additional $3 per month so we did it, but it killed us to be throwing all this other stuff away.

We found a place that would take that glass, a privately owned scrapyard near downtown. We did that for a few months. (BTW, I spoke to the owner of another privately owned scrapyard of my acquaintance, and he said that glass recycling was complete nonsense, the reason they don't collect it is that there's no market for it because it's cheaper just to make it from scratch. Most companies that collect it, he said, do it for the customer service rather than for the reuse, and it mostly ends up in the dump anyway, where, in his opinion, it belongs. I have not researched his assertions further, but I do consider him a fairly authoritative source.)

Then recently I discovered that there is a not-for-profit recycling place in town, and they take everything - laundry detergent plastic bottles, strawberry containers, glass and mixed paper, the works! It reminds me of when we used to bring everything to a weekly recycling center in Philadelphia when we were in seminary there. I must say, I was excited to find it! This will become a monthly excursion on a Saturday morning for my family, as it teaches important values, particularly bal tashhit (not wasting).

While I'm on the subject, another place where Wichita seems to be behind is in the food revolution that has been unfolding for the past few years - CSAs especially. There does not appear to be a CSA in Wichita. There are a couple of farmers' markets, but I've been kind of disappointed. I should say parenthetically that I've been averse to going to the main one on Saturdays, and the selection may be better there, but the one on Wednesday, which is the better of the mid-week ones, has one (count 'em) veg farmer and no fruit available. No berries!

I'm not sure what to do. I don't really want to rely on Dillons for this kind of thing, because that's the corporate food structure and they bring it in from who knows where and that's why tomatoes end up with botulism or whatever they get. And the health food stores are too expensive. This is a typical values conflict because I may end up having to compromise my Shabbat observance for the sake of the sustainability and healthfulness of the farmers market. How this little drama will come out remains to be seen.

But let me say that the stuff the veg farmer has at the Wednesday market is primo! Today I came back with 2 small heads of broccoli ($3) (first of the season!) which I threw into fried rice to use up some leftover rice. Onion, garlic, mushrooms, FM broccoli, some tofu, rice with a little soy - yum!

And we have found a wonderful place to find sustainably raised chicken, truly free range eggs, and raw butter, milk and cheese. We don't eat much meat, but when we do, boy, this is the place. I never had anything like that available to me anywhere else. It's the best food revolution thing going on here.

1 comment:

Mary T said...

Do you have anyplace you can grow some fruit? I haven't grown fruit since we began to rent but I am thinking of it again. --well except some strawberrys in a container that is. Summer is great for growing melons and berries, Really with a little creativity any of them can be grown in containers even on a patio if need be. But if you have garden space-- well -- the sky is the limit.