Woodsy Owl and Iron Eyes Cody would be so disappointed ...

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Happened to August: 9/9/11

Regardless, let's just pretend we're all still in full-on summer mode. Why? To take advantage of this awesome recycling idea: slip 'n' slides made out of old billboard tarps!

And another ... Saw this at a bakery/gelato shop, made out of the tiny plastic gelato spoons you never want to throw out but don't really know what to do with:

And if you think that's cool, check out what the artist (Carter Hubbard) did with 7,000 others.  Looks like I'd better start eating more gelato. Wonder what I can do with the cute fluted plastic cups?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lunchtime in a Can: 7/31/11

A small haul this time, but really, there's no need to make a huge mess in somebody's yard when you can create an entire meal in three easy steps:

1. Visit Family Dollar.
2. Purchase Vienna sausages.

3. Purchase Saltines.

I hear dinnerbells!  And only three pieces of trash to dispose of on your drive/walk home. Yes, this can was swarming with ants, and yes, I did pry up the lid to look inside it anyway (hence my discovery of the Saltine side dish). As a vegetarian, my understandable aversion to canned meats also comes with a healthy dose of curiosity about why anyone, even a devout carnivore, would eat the stuff. At about a dollar a can, plus maybe 50 cents for the crackers, I guess it is on the low end price-wise. But even a Taco Bell taco might have more (identifiable) meat for the money. See also:

Yes, that does say "Mechanically Separated Chicken."  Mmmm....

If you aren't well-versed in the finer points of Vienna sausages, don't miss this excellent primer over at Cheap Eats.

Lest you think I was raised to be a food snob, I remember that when my brother was a toddler, he used to make a fine repast out of some Vienna sausages and Zwieback toast. (Do lil' weezers not eat that anymore? Haven't seen it lately. Maybe Prussian/Russian hardtack has gone out of fashion for the teething set.) But toddlers aren't known for their sophisticated palates ("No, Junior, you must hold the oyster fork with your RIGHT hand!"), and I was busy stuffing my mouth with Fruity Pebbles at the time, so I didn't question his culinary preferences. And, hey, at least Vienna sausages and Zwieback sounded international.

Poor Vienna, one of the world's most cultured cities, still having to be associated with this stuff. I bet they kinda wish that butcher from Frankfurt had never moved to Austria. If Wikipedia is to be believed (why not?), guess that's why they call this kind of thing a "frankfurter" instead of "wienerwurste." That's it, keep trying to distance yourselves.

Heh-heh, just got distracted by a question posted at Yahoo! Answers: "Can you grow Vienna sausages?"

I suppose this could be kind of the perfect meal if you're out on a fishing boat or living in the sewer system or something, but I'd think you could do better with all the multifarious delights of Highway 54 at your disposal. Cafeteria-size lasagna, anyone?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pondering Future Litter: 7/9/11

Considering the number of empty cigarette packs I have to pick up from my yard, I've been watching this whole thing about the new packaging to be issued next year play out with keen interest. Can hardly wait to start having to deal with those. And no, I did not get through that entire slideshow of even-more-gnarly images that other countries use on their wrappers.  Not with nothing but coffee in my stomach. Maybe the packaging will work to help ward off some teenage girls, who can barely handle the prospect of a pimple, let alone all their teeth falling out, but will teen boys just take this as a challenge to "collect all 9" of the new packages?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Potluck: 6/25/11

Here's today's take--as usual, largely food-related: Butterfinger, Mountain Dew, drink lids, napkins, AND ...

Because if you're gonna be a REAL American, forget that meat-and-potatoes stuff.  I mean, that's half vegetarian, and 50% vegetarian is nearly as bad as 50% Communist. Patriots go for full-on animal products, or byproducts, like this vacu-sealed "beef" and "cheese" combo. Not sure where this type of thing would fit on the scale of food-mile impact, but I'm betting it's not pretty. (Thanks to Dave at 365 Days of Trash for drawing my attention to that handy infograph.) But that's certainly not the biggest meal that's been eaten in front of my house lately ...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm guessing lasagna, too. And to give you a sense of scale, I'd say this is the equivalent of three Stouffer's Family Size. I can't even begin to imagine the dinner scenario here, though a friend suggested maybe it was a pedestrian, rather than a driver/passenger, who polished this off, possibly while wearing it on a strap around his/her neck like a marching-band drummer.  It must have been delicious.  All they left me was some dried sauce and a few onions.

Well, the culprit is clear in this one.  I'm sure this down-the-street neighbor didn't mean for this to end up in my yard, though I doubt they went around town scrupulously removing all their signs once the sale was over, either.  I kind of admire the artistry here. All those colors, and the flirty little face.  And the call-to-action doesn't get much clearer than this:  "Come buy our junk!"  So take a lesson from a (probable) 6th-grader, ad-men. When I saw this, I immediately recollected the smell of fruit-scented magic markers. Did ya'll have those, too?  Mmmm ...

In another direct appeal, this CTA is just "Call."  The period is the key; I like how it makes things much more imperative than just flowing the verb straight in to the number.  "Yes, Chris, I have been undeniably engaged by your succinct message and I will call you now." Again, I like the aesthetic effect.  Ink-jet printer plus rainshower = psychedelia. But if you really cared about my lawn, you wouldn't stick these flyers where they can blow all around and litter things up.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lawnmower Confetti: 6/12/11

Since my husband mowed a few days ago, some of our latest litter is in convenient party-ready form:

That's a shredded Cool Ranch Doritos bag that was scattered over most of the lawn, plus some cigar and cigarette cellophane bits, a blue plastic wire, a Sonic totbox, a Super Bubble wrapper, a beer bottle bottom, etc. A few items of interest:

I know I'm not the first to ask the question ... there's even a Facebook page devoted to it.  But I still want to know--where can I get some regular old ketchup? If McDonald's is serving the fancy kind, how bad do the fries have to be to warrant a commoner's condiment?

In automotive news: Somebody bought a $3.29 fuse at AutoZone and paid with a $20.

These were found across the yard from each other and are, I suspect, evidence of a recent ninja skirmish.

"To ____ / In 600 CE, / wish pilgrim / paid their / First..." Don't you wish I'd found more of whatever THAT was? Maybe next time.

From what I can tell on the Aplicare website (it's "a market leader in the formulation, production, and packaging of topical antiseptic and personal care products for use in today's professional health care setting," BTW) the purple label apparently indicates just plain old isopropyl alcohol, which is of course quite useful for hyperalimentation trays and hand scrubs. Maybe next time you can toss me an unopened one, guys, so I can decontaminate after I do my trash collecting?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Support Your Local Bakery: 5/15/11

Today's finds, other than a metal doohickey and a WeatherZone tag left over, I assume, from someone's winter coat, are pretty much all evidence of local snacking patterns: a water bottle (the lone indicator of any kind of healthy eating), a BK cup, styrofoam package bits, a Toastchee wrapper (note to my husband: yes, I said TOASTCHEE, not NABS), and a Saltine sleeve.

The aforementioned metal doohickey. Looks a bit like the business end of our air compressor (which reminds me, I haven't checked the air pressure in my tires in waaaaay too long).

But this stuff is what I'm more interested in. I've always wondered if there could be a less-appealing brand name for baked goods than "Otis Spunkmeyer."  Guess maybe they were trying to hitch a ride on the tweed coattails of snackmaster Orville Redenbacher.  But I, for one, don't think they succeeded.  I mean, c'mon:  "Otis," the Mayberry town drunk, and "Spunkmeyer," which may as well just be "Spunkmeister."  Curiosity finally piqued beyond the OK-I'll-Google-it tipping point, I just looked up the story behind the name.  I was hoping it wasn't a real guy, and no, the name was made up by the founder's 12-year-old kid.  Think I would've hired an agency.  But the real problem is just a blueberry muffin that comes packaged in cellophane. How good can that be?

As I was saying. Want to know the saddest thing about this Lance honeybun wrapper, which someone obviously ripped into with great zeal? The best bakery around, the Graham Tasty Bakery, is like two blocks from here. You could've gotten a fresh, life-alteringly delicious honeybun the size of your head for about the same price you paid to get this one from the Stop-N-Shop. The only possible excuse: It was Sunday and the good folks who run the bakery were enjoying their well-deserved day of rest.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Supersize Litter: 4/10/11

This week's collection:

Cheetos, scraps from local newspapers, a menthol smoker's refuse, a spread from Parade "magazine," landscaping tags, napkins, styrofoam, etc. 

I assume this box belonged to some folks moving in down the street earlier this week.  It was pretty windy, and you never know when I might need to borrow a Big Spoon (or some knives...), so I tried not to grumble as I detangled this from our azaleas to put into recycling. (And yes, new flats from TJ Maxx...cute, huh?)  That, alas, wasn't the biggest piece of sh*t in our yard this week.

This was. Storms here earlier in the week downed trees and power lines all over, so I guess we were lucky that this chunk o' tree only took out a gutter, a shutter, and a few shingles. And yes, it was that Bradford pear I was just disparaging a few weeks ago... Another one squashed my parents' car. Are those trees out to get us or what? Just checked Wikipedia, and apparently the species is known more for its "weak crotches" than for its evil plotting to overthrow humanity, but I'm still suspicious. Hope everybody else fared OK!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Today's Trash: 4/2/11

As promised, I finished my coffee and headed out to the yard, while the husband's in the garage performing some organ transplants on the lawnmower. Here's what I turned up in those shin-high weeds (with a few tufts of grass mixed in):

Drink lids, creamsicle wrappers (mmmm....), Snickers, styrofoam, cellophane, you get the idea. A few standouts:
If you're like me, you have so many galvanized carriage bolt packages lying around the interior of your car (or in your truck bed) that you really just can't help when they start flying out the window.

Only the finest cigars/cigarillos will do in my neighborhood.  Who DOESN'T like to smoke things that come in fruit-candy flavors like white grape? Get a feel for the brand's clientele at this Facebook page. "Hell yeah your [sic] the bomb," and indeed, "them r tha shizzzzz." 

This reminds me of why I dislike the modifier "award-winning." Here we have the winner of Pastry of the Year--5 years in a row. The Big Texas Cinnamon Roll from Cloverhill. I'm assuming that's Gas Station Pastry of the Year? I can't read the full label. Or who knows--maybe this did beat out all the namby-pamby macarons and the so-five-years-ago fancy cupcakes. Oh wait, I just looked it up: It's the Pastry of the Year as designated by Automatic Merchandiser.  So it's the best pastry in your local vending machine. A true honor. I will definitely try one next time, IF I have more than 55 cents (I'm expecting this is on the upper end of the vending machine price point).

I'll just need to remind myself NOT to look at the ingredients list before I eat it.

And now, for the littering cusshole who keeps busting beer bottles in the same spot on the sidewalk along the edge of our yard: You've downgraded, I see, from last week's Corona to this week's Bud. I do hope, regardless, that it's you--returning from your no shirt, no shoes stroll to the Mystic Mart one warm spring day in the near future--and not one of the kids who use that sidewalk to get to their school down the road, who gets a big shard of this accident-waiting-to-happen embedded in your foot. There's no way I'm ever going to be able to get it all picked up and extracted from the grass.

Seeing the Sun: 4/2/11

Hooray for the good weather today, after a week of rain (and snow)! That means that colleague Wes Isley and friends are outside in Greensboro doing a litter clean-up that he organizes each year. What a guy! That also means that (after I've finished my coffee), I need to get out in my yard and see what kind of flotsam has been moistening out there all week, before my other half chops it all into particles once he finishes fixing the lawnmower.

For those who might be keen to hear more from the author of Moby-Duck, he was on Fresh Air last week.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Today's Haul: 3/19/11

So while I was outside cleaning the cat's litterbox, I decided I may as well brave the pollen for an extra 10 minutes and see if any intriguing human-generated litter had been added to my yard.  Yes, I really know how to live it up on the weekend. Here's what I scooped from the yard (nothing interesting in the catbox):

Sorry for the shadow. I haven't been awake that long so my eyes hadn't quite adjusted to the sun enough to understand the problem. In case you need some help with the ID, we've got one large plastic bag (This is NOT a toy; it's a suffocation danger), some Pall Mall and Newport detritus, a sprinkling of styrofoam, a landscaping tag from some manner of "mounding" flowers planted by someone with more energy/time on their hands than I have, and a shattered Corona bottle. That cerveza is not so "mas fina" when you've gotta extract shards of its container from your grass, so I hope the consumer enjoyed it, at least.  No wedge of lime found in the vicinity.  A few things of particular interest:

No baked-fresh cookie for ME?  Rude. Go ahead and hog that Sweet Life all for yourself and just rub my nose in it.

We've got two cemeteries within walking distance, so I suspect this chunk of faux poinsettia was just carried over by the wind. Though you never know.

Now, call me paranoid, but I believe this next item is no mere evidence of random littering, but constitutes an act of emotional terrorism, specifically targeting my husband and me. Here's the back:

3-13-11, last Sunday, not a happy day in our household. Note the apparent bloodstain at the bottom.  But that's not the truly offensive part. You have to flip it over for that:

Yes, that's right. It's a photo somebody took of their TELEVISION screen, with a Dookie cutting down the basket after they took the ACC championship game from our Heels.  Hmph. Considering the high-class factor of taking a photo (and printing it out on nice Canon paper) of your TV screen, this just adds to my puzzlement as to why folks who NEVER could have gotten into or afforded to attend Duke and probably don't know anyone who has ever attended Duke and certainly would be looked down upon with scorn by the spoiled out-of-state teenagers who DO attend Duke would actually be Duke fans.  But regardless, I do count this litter as an act of aggression.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Someone Who's Not Throwing Trash in My Yard: 3/11/11

Check out this post from work friend Wes Isley on a book called Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, which inspired him to stop buying mints with way too much packaging. It's part of a company blog series on what types of content inspire your supermarket purchase decisions.  Thanks, Wes, for not tossing any minty-smelling plastic tubes or discs into my yard! If I see any little foil wrappers, though, we're going to have to talk ...  A good reminder that every little bit helps, so even if you can't eliminate all excess packaging from your life, you can always start with breath mints. And if you are going to end up with those Altoid tins (I buy the ones in the really tiny tins, and a friend recycles them as seed storage), check this out for inspiration if you're Buddhist, or this if you're crafty.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just Ducky: 3/8/11

Speaking of the Pacific garbage patch, did anyone hear the story with Donovan Hohn yesterday on NPR? Great stuff. 28,800 "rubber" duckies (and similar but slightly less iconic bath floaties like "rubber" beavers) lost at sea ... where do they go? Read an excerpt from Hohn's book, Moby-Duck, at the Marketplace Big Book Blog. Maybe one will turn up in my yard?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Avoiding the Outdoors: 3/5/11

I haven't had the guts to go collecting yet this week. The Bradford pear tree in our yard is in full (early) bloom, and it's a mortal enemy of my respiratory system. Until I get out there (I see some used tissues waiting for me, so I suspect others are battling allergies as well), I submit these photos from our visit to Cambodia a couple years ago. Can't really criticize them too much for their litter--they have way bigger problems to worry about, and likely not much going on in the way of municipal trash pickup. But it's a shame that this, minus the roving livestock, actually doesn't look that different from an empty lot a few blocks from our house ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Yard and Beyond: 2/20/11

Today's collection indicates that folks have been eating SpongeBob candy, smoking Newports sparked up with Bic lighters, and bargain-hunting at Family Dollar (no receipts this time, though).  A few specifics:

Here's where all the Newports got smoked: at the corner. I only counted 13 butts on our corner, though; our neighbors had 27.

This should look familiar to those of you who tuned in last week. It's another bit of that shredded menu. Note the Deputy Hot Dog.  (Why oh why is it not the "Deputy Dawg"? Guess them varmints were scared of infringing on any trademarked 'toons.)

Here we have some sort of tag thingamajig from Time Warner Cable (if I had known they were in the neighborhood, I could've had them check why we aren't getting IFC in HD). Also a metal part from something that I hope was not somebody's car engine.

Those who read my first post have probably been wondering where the prophylactic-related litter has been lately. Well, it's your lucky day--a recent passerby apparently wanted to let us know that he's been using LifeStyles, ribbed, with reservoir tip. Thanks for the heads-up.

Thought this might actually be something cool.  Spotted these ceramic/pottery shards poking out of the dirt under a tree, where some roots have recently been uncovered. I'm going to imagine that they're from an earlier time. Our neighbor a few houses down lives on land once owned by a blacksmith, so they occasionally find horseshoes and such when they have to dig. Maybe our corner belonged to the town potter? Or more likely, somebody just tossed the dish they ate their pot pie off of out the car window when they finished...

Last up: I took a walk after cleaning my yard and decided to look for the nastiest piece of trash I could find along the way, without leaving the sidewalk. The golden yellow color didn't come through very well in the photo, but let me make this clear: That's not Pepsi in that Pepsi bottle. I'm sorry to report that I did NOT pick this up.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2/19/11: Just One Word ...

I see from the window that we've acquired a few plastic bags this morning, which reminds me of this from Britta. But am I somehow disappointed to learn that the Pacific garbage mass isn't actually an "island" of floating plastic bags, bottles, and six-pack rings? Guess if it were, it'd be easier to scoop up than bizillions of miniscule underwater bits.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Latest Collection: 2/13/11

In a very concerning move for Mr. Pickles (he's our cat, not something I found in our yard), I had to bring today's batch into the sunroom just long enough to snap with my B-berry because it was too windy outside to get everything to pose nicely for a group photo. (Yes, we just mopped this floor yesterday.) A pretty standard collection in many ways: candy wrappers, plastic bags, drink lids, cigarette butts, water bottles. Also a totally tubular piece of foam, a scrap from a JC Penney credit card bill, and some newspaper clippings (somebody's still reading!).  A few standouts:

We've recently gotten a new Family Dollar AND a new Dollar General just a few blocks away.  So our options for procuring off-brand 5-Hour Energy have expanded exponentially. Want to know what folks are buying? According to today's Family D receipts: Alpo dog treats ($2.85--that was a lone purchase, so it's nice that someone made a special trip to the store just to reward their pooch), a king-size caramel Twix ($1.10), Super Glue ($1 for a two-pack), fruit-punch Gatorade ($1), and a bag of Werther's Originals ($1--another lone purchase so somebody must've either had a real craving or just needed to break their $20). And on the Dollar Gen receipt, children's mucus-relief pills ($3.75) and, perhaps helpful for the mother dealing with the sick child, PMS pills ($3)

Now, while this piece isn't very photogenic, it is exciting because it's the first one I've seen in a month or so that came complete with its owner's name: a library receipt for Rhonda Kay Rive (possibly River or Riven or something, but it's only clear through the "e"). I also have her Tel, which I'll refrain from sharing. Though if I really start to wonder what she thought about her movie picks of The Joneses, Brothers, and It's Complicated, or if she felt that Twilight novella lived up to the rest of the series, or what she did during her 60 minutes in the computer room, it's nice to know I can call her up.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect this menu scrap is from our local soda shop, because they have a "911 Heroes" room (I've never been in that area--not sure if they serve us non-hero types there) and the items listed here include the Jailbird Chicken Salad Sandwich, the Officer Patty Melt, and the Hit & Run Ham & Cheese. Also note that one of the drinks is proclaimed "a steal." Get it?  (I couldn't make this stuff up.)

Here we see the Bible verse on the reverse side of the menu scrap. I'm wondering where the rest of the menu got to, though? Why do I only have this small sliver?

It's nice to know that the empty AquaFina bottle and its corresponding label are eco-friendly, at least....

Finally, in a project for another day (or whenever we dig up those old bushes), there are all sorts of goodies just out of my reach. I jabbed myself in the eye on a branch when I was going for these Little Debbie and Charleston Chew wrappers. Not worth a corneal abrasion. Perhaps I'll rig up some kind of long grabbing apparatus like the Gopher.

Thanks for the comments and suggestions, guys! Would love to hear about any interesting finds in your own yards.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pure As the Driven Snow: 2/10/11

No trash in our yard this morning! Is word getting out already? Or could it be because the ground was covered with a sprinkling of snow this morn? Are people less likely to litter when their offal will be displayed against that pristine white background? I need to do a study. 

Meanwhile, some inspiration for my artistic husband, in case we get a good haul once the frozen precip melts away.

Or maybe we could rig up some of these and sell through our local arts council?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Today's Haul: 2/6/11

So here, in a not-so-great photo (but you get the idea) is today's batch o' trash. This is just what I could carry without having taken a bag on my pickup; there are a few more tidbits left on the lawn that I'll deal with later. Overall, this is a pretty standard batch of detritus: McDonald's, Wendy's, "fun size" M&Ms, Goody's headache powders, etc. But a few highlights:

Exhibit A: Styrofoam cup with a hole ripped in the lid and plugged with a wadded-up Biscuitville wrapper. Somebody's idea of trash-compacting. Thanks for the help. Really.

Exhibit B: Please, people, don't use a straw to do the Dew. Mountain Dew is meant to be chugged, not sipped.

Exhibits C and D: Found in close proximity, so I'm no archaeologist but I'm going to imagine these were discarded by the same person. An empty (but carefully re-corked) bottle of Patron Silver (ah, see how it sparkles in the sunlight) and a wrapper from a Mrs. Freshley's Jelly Swirl Honeybun. Care to speculate on who might be shelling out 25 bucks for a small slurp of tequila to wash down a gas station pastry? That's cuisine/spirits pairing at its finest.

Exhibit E: My favorite find of the day. A scrap from a double-sided advertisement (there's a woman in lingerie on the B-side) for Zenerx Natural Male Enhancement. Imagine the scene in the car before this got ripped up and tossed into our yard. "45 dollars a bottle?! Forget that! I'll stick to my Extenze."