Ok, I have to (and hate to) admit this was my first year to take in the Moss Rock Festival. Mostly because the main draw for me was the environmental focus, rather than the art stuff. I really made up my mind to go when I read the website info about being able to bring your e-cycling and drop it off there. My garage had been piling up that kind of stuff for years (an overload of computer stuff has always been part of the family business) and somehow I never found out about all the local e-cycling events until a day or two after they happened.

So, I loaded up the SUV and made the trek to Hoover. Wonderful. Pix and more to come…stay tuned


Eureka! A place to recycle those pesky odd-numbered plastics that nobody in the local recycling area wants: Whole Foods now has a bin for #5 plastics. You know, those yogurt, cottage cheese, margarine etc. tubs and their matching lids, as well as anything else that has a #5 in the recycle symbol triangle on the bottom. It’s a start, anyway…now, anybody know of places that take the other numbers??? Post it here!

Discovery of the week

Yes, there are people who do good things just because it’s the right thing to do.  And in John Mathis’ case, it’s also a way to stay busy and connected his community.  After retiring from the cement industry a while back, he felt the need to stay occupied, but the usual pursuits like golf, hunting, and fishing didn’t really appeal to him. 

He tried his hand at building a computer for his grandson, enjoyed it,  then starting helping out relatives, neighbors, and especially kids. Word got around that John Mathis could fix a computer or by golly build one from spare parts. He helped out local churches,  hospital case workers out in the field, and kids from families hit by hard times. He even worked on environmental maven Auntie Litter’s computer. All for free.

Twelve years later, he’s still doing it for the enjoyment of helping other people. There’s never a charge for his time or materials. He harvests old computers and parts from garage sales, donations from individuals and local businesses that are upgrading . Mathis still loves to fix up computers for kids, and is very specific  about his needs for them- only laptops running Windows XP operating systems, because he wants the kids to have the same thing they’re using in school. His specialty is secure hard drive data removal.

If you have old computers or parts to recycle, send me an e-mail and I’ll put you in touch with John Mathis. He’ll be happy to come to you in the Birmingham metro area to pick up used computers and parts that fit his criteria. The key word being happy- really.

Rarely do I get incensed about anything at 7 a.m. But the wedding dress trashing story on CNN yesterday had me screaming in disbelief and ethical angst. Go read this blog, then come back here for my rationale. http://trashthedress.wordpress.com/why-trash-the-dress/

Okay, two points: 1) You have only two choices about the fate of this ridiculously expensive purchase? In whose world? Oh right, the same world in which the good furniture, classic books and outgrown BigWheel are waiting on the street for the landfill. 2) Would you really want to pay money to a photographer who believed trashing a perfectly useful and expensive garment for kicks was a decent way to earn a living?

1) The choice issue: additional ideas

  • You could take the dress to a consignment/thrift/2nd hand shop so that another bride of more modest means could enjoy having a beautiful wedding dress. And she could then recycle it again after her wedding, etc, etc, etc. Sharing its beauty with others repeatedly. You could also donate it to any number of women’s charity clothes closets.
  • You could have a cut-it-up party, giving everybody a pair of sewing scissors to cut it into neat squares of varying sizes. These could be used to later make (or have made) into little patchwork or smaller items like a ringbearer’s pillow, or bridal sachets, or keepsake bridesmaid gifts, or pillow cases for Aunt Fanny who still sleeps on a satin case to keep her beehive hairdo intact between salon trips. ( This option would also satisfy that urge to trash something.)

2) The photographer issue:
This of course is a deeply personal ethical issue for me. Like boycotting businesses which employ destructive practices or philosophies. Or who simply don’t care one way or the other. There have to be plenty of ethical photographers out there who would be disgusted by this practice. I would like to hear from some of them.

Nothing makes me crazier than to see huge piles of perfectly good, plenty of life-left-in-it STUFF sitting on the street in a neighborhood, waiting for the big trash trucks to come haul it away, out of sight of the perfectly manicured, tastefully decorated households from which it came.

This stuff is screaming to be useful to someone out there somewhere with limited resources and desperate need. There are plenty of other households and entities which do not have the luxury of redecorating every couple of years. There are households in which people eat standing up, or on trays…clothes are stored in plastic garbage bags…the only reading material may be the back of a ceral box.

The old kitchen table with one wobbly leg, the discarded chest of drawers in the wrong color, the old cloth-bound classic books from Aunt Nellie’s book-of-the-month club…I have seen these and more on the street, destined for an already overflowing landfill. Because their owners didn’t know about or (mostly) were too busy to deal with the donation process.

This blog was started to provide the local community in Birmingham, Alabama with useful info and interesting stories about more than the known, well publicized recycling options in the area. Sure I’ll list those, as links to more detailed sites are always valuable.

But I continue to discover resources that were not available until recently, some in unlikely places, or in new places that seem really obvious once I think about it. And then I get very excited once I find out that these entities (retail and not-so-retail) have finally gotten it.  So naturally I want to share.

Compact fluorescent light bulbDiscovery of the week:  Home Depot accepts those pesky compact flourescent bulbs!
The most obvious type of retailer finally got on the bandwagon for one of the most difficult items to recycle. These are wonderfully energy efficient, and last for years BUT they contain mercury, and if tossed into the trash where they are sure to break, the landfill becomes contaminated and the thing you think you are doing to save the planet becomes an environmental nightmare. Up until this week, all I could find was a light bulb wholesaler that would sell you a special shipping box to collect in for years into the future, then you could ship it to them for recycling. Recharable batteries and cell phones can also be recycled at Home Depot collection centers.