Ponder this for a moment….Day 84

Ponder this for a moment….

Ever eaten a little bag of chips or drank a bottle of soda? If so how long did it take you to eat it?

I’d finish one off in about five minutes. Five enjoyable minutes that is. But besides that what did I really get out of it? There really isn’t much nutrition in either of them. They are both really expensive on a per weight basis. They are very processed. I amsatisfied for a bit but nothing comes long term from this transaction with food compared to eating something healthy that gives my body vital nutrients and creates good energy for me to use.

Nothing much came from that transaction but a lot went into making it happen.

That five minutes of comfort and enjoyment now means there is a plastic bag or bottle on this earth for conservatively 450 years (if it doesn’t get recycled) That means it will still be around when your kids, kids, kids, kids, kids, kids are walking this earth. That 5 minutes of enjoyment doesn’t really seem so worth it to me. Eat an apple, compost the core, and your great, great, great, great grandchildren let alone your kids won’t be burdened by it.

But I recycle… The plastic still had to be created which took time, energy, and resources. It has to be picked up by a truck that runs on fossil fuels which takes time, energy, and resources. A factory than has to break it down into a raw material, which takes, you guessed it, time, energy, and resources. Then they use you know what to turn it back into another bottle or something of the like to go through the same energy intensive process all over again. It takes energy and resources to create all food but when we use the earth’s natural energy and resources like soil and water they are cycled through using the energy of the earth and minimal to no negative impact occurs.

Well humans have got to eat right? Yes of course, but food doesn’t need to be so resource and energy intensive. It grows from the earth naturally. What is a more earth friendly choice? Why natural, unpackaged, whole foods of course. Rather than potato chips eat a potato. Rather than applesauce eat an apple. Rather than soda drink water with a slice of lemon. It’s just that simple. It takes a lot of energy and resources to pick the apples, transport them to a factory, process the apples in the factory, add preservative ingredients, package them, package the packages, ship them to the distributors, and then distribute them to the stores.

Apples grow on trees. Go pick one.

Or buy one from your local farmer.

07/12 (Day 84) What’s in your trash?

Today I had the pleasure of visiting a couple of non-profits that are making massive strides in the world of reusing. In the United States we live in a throw away society where many of us don’t think twice about the useful stuff we throw in the garbage every day. These guys are changing that right here in Brooklyn.

Film Biz Recycling. They are just amazing. I hung out with the founder, Eva Radke, and she gave me a tour of the 11,000 square foot facility and told me how this place came to be. It started with an idea that entered her mind. She talked to her friends who were in the reuse industry and asked, “Am I crazy, or is this a good idea?” That was just five years ago and now they have diverted over 800,000 lbs. (nearly 400 tons) of materials from the NYC waste stream! It all started because of one woman and one idea. Just another example of how the actions of us as individuals does matter.

So what exactly does Film Biz Recycling do? A lot, but I will tell you just a few of the things that impressed me most. They divert stuff from the film industry that would have likely wound up in the landfill and give it a useful purpose. Eva explained how wasteful of an industry the film business is. Since time is of the utmost importance and money is apparently not an object they buy everything they need in volumes greater than they need plus a ton of stuff they probably won’t need so that it is there if and when they need it while filming. So they overbuy and when the filming is over they often just throw it away because that’s the easiest thing to do. That is where FBZ come in. They take props, wardrobe and set materials from NYC’s film, television, commercial and theatre communities. Most of it is then redistributed through their network of charities and nonprofit partners in the New York City area.

And what is not redistributed is in their 11,000 square-foot retail store, prop shop and creative reuse center in Brooklyn, NY. They’ve got everything that you’ve seen in your wildest dreams and more. Some of it is weird and wacky like the lie detector, break away glass, and Chinese cooked ducks from the Men in Black movie. If you like cool reused stuff this is the place for you. As films use props that are every day things like furniture, household goods, and dog kennels you can find that here as well. If you are in the film industry there is even stuff you can rent such as a bear skin rug to cut costs of filming and do good for the environment. All purchases support FBR’s social and environmental mission to redistribute valuable, material donations to communities of need throughout New York City.

These guys eat, sleep, and breathe some of the important R words- reuse, recycle, redistribute or repurpose. Most of the food in the kitchen is even from the movie set. They always buy more than they need on the set and a lot of that ends up in FBR’s kitchen. A lot of that ended up in my stomach. They also compost using Bokashi, an effective microorganism, that speeds up the break down process of food and have a back patio full of plants from the movie sets.

All of this happened because the idea of one woman, Eva Radke, and I am very grateful that she took that leap of faith and went for it. We need more people like her. Of course she has had the help of 100’s or 1000’s of people since then and I thank every single one of them as well. “Like” Film Biz Recycling to stay up to date with all the fun.

After a short 7-mile ride through the rough roads of Brooklyn through a diverse range of neighborhoods I made it to another very inspirational place. The queens of reuse sums them up in my mind but it goes so much further than that. Materials for the Arts is a division of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and they are creating a cleaner happier USA day in and day out. I could write a series of books about all the great things that are happening in NYC because of them but instead I’ll sum up their incredible non-profit in a few paragraphs.

MFTA specializes in “creative reuse” and collects unneeded materials from businesses and individuals, and give them to non-profits, schools, and communities with art programs to make art from it. So basically they take what might have become garbage and turn it into beauty. The list goes on of what you would find in their giant warehouse but includes set props, fabric, paint, wardrobes, giant piles of rubber bands, and wood. They take in over 1,000,000 pounds of materials per year and it is all in their giant reuse center for 1000’s of programs to come pick up completely free of charge.

Within the building they had classrooms full of magic. In the P-credit classes teachers “Learn how items from the recycling bin and free supplies from Materials for the Arts can be creatively reused to make projects for lessons in all content areas.” I walked into a classroom of teachers that were making awesome educational things to incorporate reusing into their lesson plans. Musical instruments, board games, and card games were a few of the things that the teachers had made and they were all beautiful! There was so much energy in the classrooms and everyone was so excited to be there. They also accept field trips where children can learn about the art of reuse in the 35,000 square foot building of magic.

Artists explained that using used materials opens up their creativity and saves them a ton of money. They call it reuse art and they do a lot of it around here. Just a few weeks ago they did a fashion show and one of the dresses was made from an old lampshade. In another class they made flowerpots and learned about composting (which is something they do here at MFTA). Now that is walking the walk.

It’s not just reusing ordinary stuff and turning it into art though. It’s about enjoyment. It’s about education. It’s about creativity. It’s about giving opportunities and resources to kids that wouldn’t have it. It’s about saving people money. It’s about inspiring people to be more resourceful. It’s about making use of what you’ve got rather than running to the store. It’s all surrounded by love.

Harriet Taub, the executive director, and Rachel Kuo, the communications coordinator, were both extraordinary women and there was no doubt in my mind of their dedication and excitement to this program. They are in it for the right reasons and have a genuine love for what they are doing. I hope more people out there start to do what they love like these women are doing.

Check them out at www.materialsforthearts.org and “like” Materials for the Arts to stay tuned into their reuse projects.

Both of these non-profits are members of The Reuse Alliance which is “building a community of like-minded individuals and organizations across the country that is revolutionizing the way we look at waste.” They are nationwide and they are rocking it! Among thousands of other non-profits I looked at they stuck out to me the most. Check them out at www.reusealliance.org. And they are a 1% for the Planet recipient which is how I got connected with them!

So it turns out that being good to the earth can be fun and cool!

This adventure is now a book! Dude Making a Difference is the exciting and inspirational story of my bike ride across the USA on a bamboo bike. Go to www.RobGreenfield.tv/Dude to get a copy or learn more about it. 100% of my proceeds are donated to environmental grassroots nonprofits!