Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Green Goals for 2010, #2

The second goal I've set for myself for 2010 is buying local. I already do quite a bit, and it's been a huge trend for 2009 (one that hopefully will continue and become a reality, and not a novelty.) However, I propose moving beyond getting my produce at Findlay Market (though it is awesome produce, meat, food, and more!)

p&g photo credit here

If I'm gonna buy a big name brand, and you know I'm going to do it eventually, I might as well consider buying a brand that is headquartered and employs people in Cincinnati? It's crazy when you think of how many headquarters are located in our fair city: P&G is the obvious one, but there's also hometown heroes Chiquita, KAO (Jergens), even Sunny Delight (ew) is headquartered somewhere near Blue Ash.

Do I need to get gas? Go to UDF. Need to do grocery shopping and can't get to Findlay? Go to Krogers. Fly Delta. These companies employ people and trickle money through our local economy. The rate of return is not as significant as buying locally through small businesses, but every little bit helps. (Check out the official wikipedia list of Cincinnati corporations here)

However, you know how attached I am to my beloved Aldi's... so I looked it up. Batavia, Illinois is only 331 miles away. The buy local movement recommends searching for food between 1 - 500 miles away from home, so.... jackpot!

It's just a way to stretch my dollar even further. I'm excited to see how far it goes.

Green Goals for 2010, #1

It's been a hectic holiday season for me as I prepare to go back to school for the last six months of my undergrad career. However, I wanna kick off 2010 with three personal goals that will improve my life and hopefully reduce my footprint. I'll let you in on the others over the next few days, but here is the first:

# 1. Reduce my personal hygiene plastic consumption

I know a plastic loofah doesn't seem like a big deal, but the combination of the scrubby plastic and the plastic bottle of body wash (that I go through with astounding speed) makes me feel guilty every time I hop into the shower. I kicked off today by using a wash cloth and a brand new bar of yummy smelling soap (the same brand and scent as my body wash!). I got four 4 oz bars of soap for the same price as 12 oz of body wash. Score!

The other big part of my plastic pact is for ladies only (guys, go ahead and skip down, it may be too much for you to handle...)

Whatever your preference, be it cardboard or plastic, pads or tampons, let's face it, ladies: We create a heck of a lot of waste one week out of every month. Not only do I hate the idea of feminine products in general, but I am always forgetting to bring extras, or even worse facing the risk of TSS leaving that tampon in way past its due date. They're expensive, they're annoying, and they generally make me grumpy.

Thankfully the darlings over at Park and Vine clued me in to my lifesaver of 2009: the Diva Cup .

thanks A Green Spell for the fantastic picture!

Without going into too much detail, the Diva Cup eliminates the need for disposable pads or tampons. It's a silicone cup that catches all the girly grossness. You can leave it in for 12 hours, and it's reusable - just boil it in some water for 10 minutes after your cycle is done and voila! Ready for next month. I've been using the Diva Cup since July and it's been the best $30 I've spent all year, hands down.

If you're interested and want to learn more, check out their website, this blog post, or just shoot me a line and I'll talk your ear off about the awesomeness that is the Diva Cup.


Just about everything having to do with girls and the ways we pretty ourselves up has to do with plastic, and it's a bummer. I'm still too poor/in college to really splurge on things like cosmetics in tins and really nice non-disposable razors, but I figure baby steps are always better than standing still.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's A Wonderful Life - tonight!!

If you haven't already heard, I am reprising my role as a Jingle Belle in this year's production of It's a Wonderful Life - the live radio broadcast! at the Falcon Theater. It runs Friday, Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm this weekend and next weekend. It's a fun show, and I'd love if you came and saw it. Check out more details over at UrbanCincy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Only Thing We Have to Fear...

This quarter has brought with it two new experiences into my life... ones that I could've done without, but that have changed me and opened my eyes all the same. Earlier this quarter, someone broke into my house in Clifton. This past weekend, I got mugged at gunpoint.

The bad news is that the people who did these things made off with some personal items, and damaged our house. The good news is that physical objects can and are being replaced. It's a hassle, but it has renewed my sense of awe and gratitude for the things I can't replace - namely, being alive and well.

I am the type of person who looks first for the good in people, and I can't help but do that even in situations like these. The incidents have made me more aware of my surroundings (and have me investing in pepper spray) but I absolutely refuse to let these things stop me from embracing Cincinnati's center city.

I will NOT allow a spirit of intimidation or fear dictate where I go or what I do. For too many years there has been a wall of bogeymen - be they real or fake, racially or class status divided - built up around the Cincinnati metro. Every negative news story, stereotype and police report help to reinforce the wall. On the flip side, every person who chooses to inhabit spaces, innovate, preserve, and renew the people, buildings and business in Cincinnati tears down the wall, one ghostly brick at a time.

What happened to me sucked, but the real tragedy would be allowing my past to dictate what I do in the future. Keep your eyes open, but also take care not to close up your mind and heart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Diary of a DAAP Kid: Work! PAID work!

Despite this quarter's best efforts, I have managed to procure a random assortment of paid employment experiences, which definitely have affected my education in a positive way. Right now I am currently working with a local construction/development company on their impending office remodel, as well as project managing for a condo development. It's a completely differenet experience from any that I've had, and I think I'm definitely all the better for it.

There have been times this quarter when I have longed for a "typical" co-op experience, complete with redlines and lunch and learns. However, I've had to be resourceful and take a lot of initiative to make this quarter worth my while, and I am proud to say I have done just that.

So, without further ado, I present to you some things I have been working on this quarter. And have been paid in cold. hard. cash. Kachow!

Taste of Belgium

The most amazing Jean-Francois Fletchet was kind enough to offer me a graphic design gig to help him out with his fantastic waffle business. I designed a gift card and envelope, as well as a tag to go on the four pack of waffles he has been selling for the holiday season. JF has a sleek European sensibility, and I wanted the design to reflect the image that the Taste of Belgium brand is presenting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I LOVE Cincinnati.

You've probably seen these bumper stickers/signs floating around various people's cars, cubicles, and other locations over the last couple of months. And you know what? It's absolutely true. The vast majority of people who live here, claim to not just enjoy, but love Cincinnati. You know, that can't-eat, can't- sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, world-series kind of stuff. There's even a website where you can anonymously post the things that make citizens giddy about Cincy:
  • Its urban, suburban, and rural.
  • Shake It Records in Northside! The Comet, too!
  • Go Bengals!
  • everything
  • the four seasons and scenery
  • The City's Great History
  • The view as you drive into the city from the cut in the hill is amazing!
  • foliage
  • living in Clifton, with all its ridiculousness
  • A bustling happy crowd on a Saturday morning at Findlay Market                                                  (just to name a few things)
You can't claim to love Cincinnati and hope for its future... and vote "yes" on Issue 9. It doesn't make any sense. It has completely blown me away to see the massive outcry from people around the city, especially in the blogging community. Initially I was a little nervous, but you guys pulled through. I knew you would.

I don't know if anyone who is undecided on Issue 9 is going to read this, but it's my platform and I'll shout from it anyway. It all boils down to tomorrow. And frankly, I think it's going to work out.

(picture credits UrbanQueer

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Your Recycling Questions, Answered

 Thanks so much to everyone who looked at and commented on the Rumpke recycling post from last week. I want to get you all the correct infomation, and there were quite a few questions that were generated. I emailed Sue Magness from the Office of Environmental Quality, and she got right back to me with the answers!

1.      What are the options are for people who do NOT have curbside service. Does this announcement mean that even recycling drop off locations now accept all plastics too? If so, they definitely should update the signage to make that clear.  Yes, the drop off are for people who are not eligible for curbside service (basically household who have private trash service dumpsters).  Yes,  the list of items on the drop off containers will be updated, but will take us a few weeks.  HOWEVER it is not all plastics - it is all plastic BOTTLES and JARS #1-7.  It does not include rigid plastic shells, shrink wrap, films, tubs, toys.  JUST stuff that once had a cap or screw on lid.  When recycling your bottles and jars, please remove the caps.  Metal caps can be recycled at area scrap dealers who accept steel.  http://www.hcdoes.org/SWMD/Businesses/IndCommRecy.html#metals
 And plastics caps can be recycled at AVEDA stores.  http://aveda.aveda.com/aboutaveda/caps.asp

2. how about "soft" plastic packaging...like that which is used to package toilet tissue??? No, that is called shrink wrap or film.  There is not a facility that will accept from residents
(NOTE:  The local plastic recyclers currently only accept in bulk from industrial and commercial sources http://www.hcdoes.org/SWMD/Businesses/IndCommRecy.html#plastic)

3. Does this count for those people in Northern Kentucky who also have Rumpke Recycling? I assumed so, but I wanted to be sure.  NO, Rumpke has not expanded to the rest of the service area yet.  Technically, the new sorting facility is still under construction and they are temporarily warehousing the materials.  So Rumpke will expand as new contracts are established ( as  in our case), or after the installation of the “state of the art” equipment is complete.

4. What about the people that have the city pick up there trash?? You can order a recycling bin (or two!) from the City of Cincinnati, and then just set your recycling bin out with your trash on trash day. They will come and take it away for free! Order your bin here

 Thanks again for all the questions and comments. If you're curious about anything else, let me know and I will do my best to find out!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Diary of a DAAP Kid: What is this thing you call... Homecoming?

photo credit University of Cincinnati 

I have been in college for five years, and I have never once attended Homecoming festivities of any capacity, at any college. I vaguely remember something about a football game back in high school, but even then, as an aspiring little hipster, I couldn't be bothered with such mainstream trifles as football.

(I didn't bring my camera, so this crappy phone shot is the only one I got of tailgating festivities. )

However, it's my fifth year at DAAP and I realized that I would forever regret not living out my college experience to the fullest, even if it meant braving the cold, crowds and traffic patterns to truly live out all that is Homecoming. Slacker that I am, I didn't get out to the Homecoming parade in time - I was getting ready to tailgate! I knew it would be a perfect opportunity to use the Front Yard, and to my delight my small group of friends and I were not alone in utilizing the green space between McMillan and Calhoun. We fired up the grill down the way from different tents that had sprung up, as well as a fairly large pee-wee football game dominating the majority of the space. All the while people were cutting cross the grass to get closer to campus and the stadium from their parking spots.

Then of course there was the Game. And what a game it was! I've actually started to get involved with football, learning more about the game and cheering on my teams. UC has obviously been a fun team to watch this year, though I enjoy watching professional football more. I discovered I am MUCH too easily distracted to really appreciate a live game. I kept missing important plays because there were too many interesting people to watch, or the cheerleaders were leading us in cheers (ohhhhhh.... ohhhhhh.... ohhhhh! *clap clap clap clap* UC!), or I wanted to talk to my friends, or there was a balloon in the sky, or... yeah. You get the idea.

So now I feel a little more like a "regular" college kid now. And (don't tell the hipsters)... it was actually pretty fun.

the Bearcat band!

my crazy DAAP friends and I at the game! (note the architecture grad student wearing the pullover and button down shirt... totally appropriate for a football game. Hey... we're in DAAP.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recycling in Cincinnati - Just to Clarify

Hey guys, I wanted to do another update just to let you know the rundown for recycling in Cincinnati.

Rumpke is now accepting ALL plastic bottles. Only plastic bottles and jugs (regardless of number) will be accepted in the program. To be classified as a bottle or a jug, the top of the container must be smaller than the bottom. These items include syrup containers, shampoo bottles, a water bottle, etc. Plastics not in the shape of a bottle (such as a butter tub or plastic bag or food tray) are not currently accepted.

So, it's not all plastics, as I said in my last post. I got really excited and must have misheard the announcement, and I feel terrible for garnering so much attention with something that wasn't completely true.

Pizza boxes and multiple bins of recycling are also accepted.

Don't forget, you can also recycle:

*ALL paper - magazines, newspapers, junk mail, post it notes
* cardboard
* aluminum

All the different types of bottles that can now be recycled!!

But, don't get too discouraged. This is a huge step forward for Cincinnati and our recycling system, and it's pretty darn exciting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Improved Recycling in Cincinnati - Hooray!!

The City of Cincinnati and Rumpke Recycling came together Thursday at the original La Rosa's pizza on Boudinot Avenue in the West Side to make a special announcement about changes to the recycling program in Cincinnati. City Council members Roxanne Qualls and Greg Harris were present, as well as Mayor Mark Mallory, the Rumpke Vice President, the director of the city's Office of Environmental Quality Larry Falkin, and director of recycling Sue Magness to make the announcements.

Rumpke and the City of Cincinnati have come together to offer more recycling options for the citizens of Cincinnati. Starting today, you can now put ALL plastic bottles and jugs (regardless of number) in your bin! To be classified as a bottle or a jug, the top of the container must be smaller than the bottom. These items include syrup containers, shampoo bottles, a water bottle, etc. Plastics not in the shape of a bottle (such as a butter tub or plastic bag or food tray) are not currently accepted.!!

It used to be that only plastics #s 1 and 2 were allowed, but Rumpke has spent 6 million dollars in new sorting technology that allows for all plastic bottles to be included. Here is a rundown of the all the currently accepted materials, from the City of Cincinnati website:

    List of acceptable materials:
  • NOW Accepting all plastic bottles and jugs (no lids)
  • Glass jars and bottles of any color
  • Aluminum, steel and bi-metal cans
  • Empty aerosol cans with lids and tips removed
  • Brown grocery bags
  • Computer paper, and other mixed office paper
  • Corrugated cardboard, broken down to 3' X 3'
  • Envelopes, with or without windows
  • Junk mail
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers with inserts
  • Paperboard, such as cereal boxes
  • Telephone books
  • NOW Accepting pizza boxes (free of food residue) 
       Unacceptable Items:
    • Plastic that are not bottles or jugs, such as whipped topping containers, butter tubs, yogurt cups or food trays
    • Plastic bags
    • Motor oil jugs or other chemical containers
    • Styrofoam
    • Lids/caps - recycle plastic lids at Aveda , recycle metal lids at local scrap dealers who accept steel
    • Window or drinking glass
    • Light bulbs
    • Coat hangers or steel scrap
    • Paint cans
    • Light bulb

      The city actually generates revenue and creates jobs by increasing the amount of material recycled. We save thousands of dollars in tipping fees, and for every 10,000 tons of material recycled, 35 jobs are created as opposed to 2 jobs for every 10,0000 tons of waste.

      It may not come as a surprise, but the reason the conference was held at La Rosa's is that... CLEAN (that is, non-greasy and free of food-stuff) pizza boxes are also now accepted in your green recycling bin! Please make sure that all the items you place in your bin are clean and dry. Not only is it important for the machines to be able to process clean material, but can you imagine being a recycling worker opening a milk jug that hasn't been washed out and has sat for weeks and weeks?? Vomit.

      Anyway, the conference was great, and there was free pizza afterwards (score!) And, in case you're curious, Mayor Mallory divulged his ideal pizza - that is, a small deep dish with bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, pineapple, and green olives... well done. So if you're looking to get in good with the mayor... now you know a way to his heart!

      So, to sum up:

      ALL Plastic bottles can go in your bins! If it's not a bottle (and not #1, 2), you can't recycle it. (Just rinse them out first - don't be that guy)
      CLEAN Pizza boxes can go in your bins!

      If your little bin is overwhelmed with the amount of new stuff you can recycle, you can now put out 2 or more bins at the curb!! Call 513-591-6000 to order a recycling bin today, or order online here.  I got one for the Tuxedo Shop... I'm pretty sure they now think I am certifiably insane... but, hey. Whatever works!

      Monday, October 19, 2009

      Yard Signs without the Yard...

      In case you didn't know, the house in which I reside used to be a typical Clifton house: front porch, small backyard, stained glass windows. However, my current landlord decided to remove the front porch and instead start up a tuxedo rental shop in the front (the windows and the backyard are gone as well.)

      What this means is that I have no front yard. Front yards are pretty essential for, well, yard signs. However, my lack of yard has not stopped me from shouting to the world my various local political leanings:


      So, yes. Now you know where my bedroom is. I better not get any random stalkers from this (though if you want to stop by for dinner sometime, I am a pretty good cook!)

      Glad to see my little signs have been noticed. Let this be encouragement to you - don't let your lack of yard stop you from sharing your views!

      (thank you, Queen City Discovery for the awesome graphic!!)

      PS... while I was taking pictures of my signs, some jerk driving by rolled down his window and yelled "You don't want to live there!" ... thanks, buddy. 

      Tuesday, October 13, 2009

      Plastic Bag Love: Fashion Edition

      The lowly plastic bag has so many fantastic alternative uses. Today we'll be exploring the phenomenon that is "Trashion," that is, turning trash into fashion. Designers and crafties alike are coming up with innovate (and beautiful!) ways to repurpose everything from my favorite plastic bags to trash found on the street into classy and interesting wearable designs.

      Gary Harvey is a creative director from London who believes in an "ethical fashion revolution." In December of 2007 he created a collection that debuted at the Esthetica Exhibition during London Fashion Week. His dresses used materials like newspaper, chip bags (shown above), as well as iconic pieces of clothing - baseball jackets and even wedding dresses, for example.(all images copyright Gary Harvey)

      Etsy offers plenty of crafters who have worked their magic repurposing items into beautiful work. This Plastic Bag Rain Jacket is one of the coolest plastic bag creations I've found to date. Unfortunately it sold out back in 2007, but I wanted to show you PenFelt's (that is, LeBrie Rich from Portland, OR) work, because it's so whimsy and fun.

      Finally, for a last look at neat-o recycled fashion, I found this website called WearYourMusic.org . This organization collects used/broken guitar strings from popular artists and then makes them into bracelets and sells them to us. The proceeds go to a charity selected by the artist, and you have a fantastic story about a sweet new accessory. Anyone who is looking to get me a Christmas present, feel free to pick me up a bracelet from Jack Johnson, Eric Clapton, or Jason Mraz. The artists range from Moe to Toby Keith, so if there's a music lover in your life... this would be a sweet present.

      PS - if your wallet can't handle the $500 price tag (it's only $75 for the guy from the String Cheese Incident!), they also sell regular guitar string bracelets - no artist attached for only $9.99.

      What's your favorite type of Trashion?

      Friday, October 2, 2009

      Another Com-Post

      If you were intrigued by my Bokashi Com-Post (get it?... yeah, I went there.) but still weren't sure about getting into the whole urban composting thing, there's another chance for you to wrap your brain around it.

      This coming Saturday morning Park + Vine will be hosting another composting class. This time the focus will exclusively be on Bokashi and how it works.

      Check out the Facebook invite here. Today is the last day to sign up for the class. If you live in the city with no backyard (like me) and shed tears every time you dump your organic matter in the trash can (also like me), the Bokashi system is definitely worth a try. I've been using it since April, and it's worked out pretty well.

      My only dilemma is where to put the compost when it's ready to go. I currently have a tub full of all this summer's food scraps. If there are any gardeners out there who need some deliciously organic matter to richen up their soil for next year's garden, PLEASE let me know. My room mates are starting to grumble and well, it's getting awkward.

      Tuesday, September 29, 2009

      My MPMF

      This is a little late, but I still had a blast on Friday Night at the Mid Point Music Festival.


      it's a one eyed, one hatted puffy orange music lover... 

       Tracy Walker at Coffee Emporium

      obviously these listeners are very impressed.

      shake your grove thang, dancin' man. (at Segway)

      the crowd is enthralled with Wake the Bear

      croonin' (Wake the Bear)

      Wake the Bear's shoes and beer.

      the Sundresses! (kinda...)

      It was awesome to celebrate great music in all the cool spots downtown.
      (ya know, except for Cadillac Ranch...)

      Friday, September 25, 2009

      recycleDbin at Urban Cincy!

      Hey everyone! I wanted to let you know of a new venture I am embarking on. I am now a contributing writer for one of Cincinnati's more well known blogs,  UrbanCincy . Not that I'm abandoning recycleDbin any time soon. This gives me a chance to meet new people and help cover all the exciting things happening in and around Cincinnati. So... yay!

      Tuesday, September 22, 2009

      Diary of a DAAP kid: home sweet home?

      A couple weeks ago, I left home to do some traveling. Guess where I ended up? Home. Confused yet? Let me explain. As a college student, I feel like I have two places I call Home.

      Back Home again, in Indiana... 

      The first of these is the area where I grew up (for me, this is small town Indiana.) I still have a bedroom there, full to the brim with memories from childhood and high school. When I go back to spend a weekend or a holiday, my mom cooks me dinner, and we go on bike rides and talk about how much Franklin is changing and growing as a city.  Franklin-home is a comfortable haven, full of memories from friends and times past, reminiscing, and spending time with family and old friends.

      However, it's been four years since I've spent any significant amount of time living in Franklin. It seems like every time I go back, there's something that's been built (or worse, torn down) that has changed the familiar landscape of my past into something new and unknown. My roots are in Indiana (and I will always swear my allegiance to Indiana tomatoes and corn over Ohio's!) but I don't know if my heart is there anymore.

      old roomies and I outside our humble abode in Clifton.

       Home #2, is obviously Cincinnati. I didn't grow up here, but I've done a lot of exploring and experiencing in this city over the last four years. People are usually surprised to find that I didn't actually grow up here. I feel really lucky that Cincy has so much to offer, and that I've been able to burst the Clifton bubble and get into the rest of the city. I feel connected here in a way that I didn't back in Indiana. Maybe it's the history, the architecture, the events, or even the people... but this city has a tangible hold on my heart.

      Even so, it's not like I grew up here. So in a way, it's kind of strange to have two places that I feel quasi-connected to. Two Homes. I am certain that I am not alone in this feeling. I know when I graduate that I will want to get out of town and explore the rest of the country in a way that I haven't yet had the opportunity to. But will I ultimately end up in Cincinnati?

      For now, the answer appears to be "yes."

      Monday, September 14, 2009

      Being green in Boston


      I had a fantastic time in Boston over Labor Day weekend. Great food, great friends... it was a wonderful all around experience. There was a lot to take in, and our hosts showed us around many of the different neighborhoods of good old Beantown.

      Seeing as how Boston is such a progressive and well-established area, I was interested to see what sort of strides the city has taken to become more sustainable. Obviously the first huge thing was the public transportation. The MBTA is a really great system of rail, subway, bus... and boat! Yep. They have boats that take passengers from one side of the bay to the other. It's pretty awesome.

      view from the ferry
      They are also installing solar trash receptacles around the city center. We saw them over by Fenway park.  They look kind of like green mailboxes, but they have icons of people throwing stuff away on them, so there wasn't too much confusion. They hold up to 150 gallons of trash, and the solar panels run a compactor. Hopefully they can also do this with recycling - cans, maybe?
      too bad it's not a recycling bin!
      My friends and I ended up spending an afternoon at Harvard, and I noticed that the campus has been making efforts to "green" their facilities. They had signs around the grounds inviting people to "sit down, it's organic!" The sign didn't elaborate on how the groundskeeping was organic, exactly. I didn't see any goats mowing the lawn, so I assume that they are no longer using chemicals to treat the grass.
      cool public art installation on the very "green" grass
      The good folks at Harvard have also "greened up" their bathrooms. While using their facilities at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (I highly recommend visiting, and not just for the bathrooms!), I noticed that they had installed low-flow toilets and solar powered, motion sensored faucets! Not only that, but even their foamy soap was eco-friendly.
      My only disappointment was, even with all the fancy new equipment... the only means available to dry one's hands after washing up was with paper towels. Seriously? All this new fangled equipment and you couldn't install an air dryer? 
      So Harvard's Eco-Score Card gets a B from me. Good effort, but it doesn't make sense to have equipment that's been around for years (i.e. air dryers) in your bathrooms.

      Overall, I had an amazing time. I highly recommend visiting. The whole time I was there, I couldn't help but wonder if someday Cincinnati could aspire to be as awesome as Boston. I think we are on our way!