Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Rag Man Update

Sippican the Rag Man, and its progenitor, Building a House With Found Materials continue to attract attention. It’s apt, I suppose, that everyone’s picking through my pixel trash looking for treasure, and likely finding little of value. Oh well, I get to recycle words, and make a table leg instead of type, too. If you’re not a raccoon with your fingers in your ears chanting LaLaLaLa I can’t hear you, the information’s not all that hard to come by. Let’s recycle news stories!

  • Only 30 percent of paper, plastic, and cardboard that arrives at the Friedman recycling plant in east El Paso is actually recyclable, according to Ismael Barrera, manager of the Friedman Recycling Plant. This means that only about a third of all trash slated for recycling is actually being reused. “The rest is sent to landfills…”


  • Around 240,000 tons of paper, glass and plastic is either dumped or burned after being collected in green bins and bags by local council staff, according to the Local Government Association, which represents town halls across the country. However, the true amount could be much higher as only around half of local authorities submitted their data.


  • But at the transfer station off North Lincoln Avenue, things aren’t so clear. There, an Allied employee states that co-mingled recyclables are dumped in a special area and taken away “to a place not around here” where the items are sorted and then sold. When asked exactly where this sorting takes place, the employee, who claims to have been with Allied Waste (or earlier manifestations) for over twenty five years, tells me he is “not sure where it goes.”


  • Lt. Patrick Jones of the Tiverton Police said Tuesday that the missing sculpture has an estimated value of $30,000. The police have contacted area scrap-metal companies in case someone tries to sell it for scrap.



  • Fall River police say their city is the latest to be hit with a growing problem across the country – manhole covers and sewer grates stolen from streets for money.



  • From January 1 to March 31, 2008, there were 678 metal thefts reported in Indianapolis. This averages out to about 226 per month or about 7 metal thefts each day. Residences accounted for just over half of the crimes. Another 17 percent were automobiles (catalytic converters mostly). Interestingly, churches have been victimized enough to merit their own category.


  • The old “city dump” is illegal in the United States. Landfills must meet stringent Federal requirements for the safe entombment of waste. The landfill must be placed away from environmentally sensitive areas. The landfill must be properly engineered and prepared to receive and hold waste. The waste is compacted and covered daily to reduce odor, control vermin, and protect public health. The landfill must be monitored for liquid leakage and gaseous emissions and provisions made to capture and treat any effluents or gases.


  • Yet another sad and unexpected effect of the current economic conditions: recyclables losing their value. Cardboard, plastic, newspaper and metals are piling up across the country as recycling contractors fail to find buyers who will purchase the materials at a fair price. This slump in the scrap market means that many of those recyclables will end up in the landfill instead of getting new life as car parts, book covers and boxes.

This grows monotonous. Let me Google that for you.

11 Responses

  1. America currently thrives on the philosophy, "if we can, we will," vs "just because we can, doesn't mean we should." America also lives with two creeds, "Image over
    substance," and "Profit over people." We know more about Hollywood than our political or legal systems and profit trumps the labor that creates it.
    The question is why does America put up with creating so much gabage? Because we are currently a shallow image obsessed and profit driven culture.
    There are two industries that perpetuate our garbage. The packaging and advertising industries have inflicted a fear based competition with food and product industries to compete by standing out through packaging and advertising, to grab the infantile attention of Americans. Our grocery shelves are a regular riot, a circus of advertising activity. This creates a wholly unnecessary and ungodly amount of varied packaging brought into our homes that is useless days later and thrown away by the tons creating our landfills today.
    I offer a solution: Simplify. Don't wrap my prunes individually.
    I don't want bells and whistles advertising and packaging. I reel at the bells and whistles. Give me a line of products in SIMPLE packaging. Sell in BULK. Put everything in bulk,in clear plastic bags so I can see what it is, with a simple white label with appropiate lable information on it. Package everything this way. I, you, noone, needs more than this. This type of package will cut production costs, cut product price, and packaging in bulk cuts the amount of garbage generated.
    The best example of blatant waste I've seen was at a state park general store. Within the icecream cooler was a Dove icecream bar not only wrapped in foil but individually BOXED. Each bar in a BOX! It takes two minutes to eat one and years for all the boxes to break down in the landfill. And, must we sacrifice trees to box icecream bars?
    Lastly, with continued improvement of internet search engines, there's been an explosion of interest in and appreciation for design in the last 5 years. It is giving a false sense of importance to designers who aren't applying design to pupose. I'm overwhelmed by and fed up with the flambouyant, self-indulgent, bombastic, design in advertising and packaging today. Its time for a REALITY check. Less is more. Less packaging equalls less garbage. Bombastic:
    emphasising style at the expense of thought. Betty.

  2. In Providence, a number of historic buildings have had their copper gutters stolen. The church where my children when to preschool was one. In this case, the thieves appeared to have just grabbed the downspouts and yanked. In other cases, the thieves got up to the roof and removed everything.

    Then there's this case:

    National Grid said spent Thursday cutting off power to 5,000 customers so it could replace copper ground wire stolen from its Smithfield substation…

  3. Just got done taking the old flooring off in small school district warehouse about the size of your average two car garage. We ended up with five 44 gallon trash cans full. The old linoleum tiles cannot be thrown in the trash because there is approximately 1% asbestos content in the tile. Can't put asbestos in a landfill. Those cans must be removed to an abatement facility at a cost to the local taxpayers of about $1,500.00. That is one thousand five hundred dollars to dispose of the equivalent of about two one gallon paint cans of actual asbestos, which is only dangerous if you happen to breathe in the dust for an extended period of time (like years). But you never know. Someone might stick their head in the landfill, and take a deep breath.

    Your tax dollars at (green) work.


  4. Betty, will you please open up and drink a large unrecyclable can of STFU? You offer a string of unsupported assertions about American philosophiy and creeds. In quotation marks, even. You tell us that WE need to accept your crackpot notions about packaging being "unnecessary", to attract our (not yours, of course)) infantile attention." Everything in bulk, in clear plastic bags? Are you nuts? If that were the case how would I tell Wing Dings from Moon Pies and Devil Dogs? But isn't that what really pisses you off: the idea of consumer choice? Secret Stalinoids such as you just hate American affluence and all the choices we have at hand. You would have been quite happy to have lived in the USSR, where the shelves were bare, and what few products for sale were packaged just as you dream of.

    I suggest you go back to braiding your amrpits.

  5. I live in San Francisco. We used to have two large cans–one black, for plain old trash, and one blue for recyclables. Thank god, we only have to use one recyclables can instead of 5 (England) or 7 (Norway). About five years ago the City proudly announced at a nationwide meeting that SF was going to "be the first American city to cut unrecyclable waste 50% within 3 years." Well, apparently SF residents missed the memo and after three years the pixie power of "Make it so" hadn't worked. So one day they took our big black cans and replaced them with little black cans, half the size. Then they proudly announced they'd cut household trash in SF by 50%. I wish I was making this up. (Of course, what people did was dispose of the excess household waste in the recyling bins.)
    Last year they came up with a new plan. They were going to make Big Bucks composting organic waste. We just had to put all our orange peels and whatnot into the green bin that was previously used for lawn clippings, etc. But, having learned from the past, they made it illegal to dispose of organic waste in your black bin. With a fine of up to $1500. And garbage police to randomly examine your black bin for "forbidden" trash. Oh, and they banned in-sink garbage disposers at the same time. If you already have one and sell your house, it has to be removed.
    Coming soon to a city near you!
    It gets better. They've now announced that San Francisco will produce "zero garbage" within the decade. I suspect this plan involves WMDs.
    Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs did a show on recycling at the SF facility, and while he was subtle about it, it became clear that the only things worth recycling were (you guessed it) aluminum and steel. The rest was feel-good makework.
    The bottom line, as pointed out in the Bullsh*t! episode, is that safe and functional landfills can be made, and a single on 35m on a side could hold all the garbage of the USA (produced at the present rate) for 1,000 years. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see landfills as being a problem. Besides, in 50 years nanotechnology will be set loose in existing landfills to convert everything to, I dunno, soylent green or New Coke or something. and they'll go away, too. People who talk about problems 500 years in the future and assume present levels of technology are raving mad.

  6. Think about how much waste we could save just by going back to returnable bottles for beer and soft drinks.

    Of course, that just opens up new problems; transportation, cleaning/waste water and storage; problems the bottling companies have pushed onto the garbage industry.

    damn teh bad luck; it appears there is no free lunch.

  7. Your points lack specifics

    Background, I have been an employee for the largest recycling company in North America for the last decade. I've had the same, or more, EvEd classes you've had.

    I live in/near the city of Seattle, where refusal to recycle/compost will get you tickets by the “Disposal Inspectors”. If you don't pay the tickets, you will get liens put against your home. It is a horrendous policy, and one that should have caused the city leaders to be strung up (or at least tarred and feathered).

    Recycling is a waste of time and creates very few jobs that a sane person could call a career.

    However, your bias glows in the dark like radiation. Let me clarify some things for you:

    #1 – What does the recycling facility recover? Do they not do metals? Do they not do plastics? Do they not do glass? Not every facility recovers every commodity. In fact, very few do. About 30% of what hits any facility is straight up trash. Used pizza boxes and other fiber materials that have touched food cannot be recycled and end up going straight into the trash. People toss those into their recycling bins because they don't know any better. Education (or if you prefer “indoctrination”) would help lower this number.

    You need to do more research before tossing off the wall numbers out.

    #2 – There are nearly 1500 recycling trucks in the state of California (insider info, sorry, no link). CA has a bit more than half the number of residents as the UK (the nation specified in your second point). So let's say that the UK has 3000 recycling trucks.

    Each recycling truck brings in about five tons per day. So the UK is bringing in about 15000 tons per day. It would take the UK about 16 days to come up with 240,000 tons of recyclables. Even if we double the number of tons (like you reasonably insinuate we should because of the lack of reporting) that is only 32 days worth of recyclables tossed out every year, or just under 11.5% (or 12.5% with the metric tonnage conversion)

    #3 – Just because somebody doesn't know something doesn't prove your point.

    #4 thru #10 blah, blah, blah

    #11 – Us folks in the west are having little trouble finding buyers for our commodities. China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea (should I go on?) all want cardboard and plastics. The bottling industry wants the glass. You covered other metals overly well.

    Now, your little auto-Google is funny. You have one, count them, ONE, link that proves your point. Point #2 proves my points. In fact, so do a couple of other links there.

    In the end, Penn and Teller are correct: Recycling IS Bullshit. You are also “right”in your own quaint way, but your arguments lack any sticking power. Just trying to help you out here.

  8. I'M sorry Phil, but I don't see the numbers your points refer to anywhere in the thread. Can you please clarify?

  9. Oh, I get it … Phil agrees, but he doesn't agree. It's all very clear now. Or, Sipp is right, but he's not right, because he has another job other than in the recycling industry so he can't research reams of data without his family starving.

    Keep passing the open windows.


  10. Besides, in 50 years nanotechnology will be set loose in existing landfills to convert everything… People who talk about problems 500 years in the future and assume present levels of technology are raving mad.

    As are those who make current-day policy decisions based on hypothetical future technologies!

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