Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “recycle”

Christmas Tree Graveyard – Roger Ingalls

Driving to work today, I passed a usually vacant lot and noticed it was full of Christmas trees. I stared at it for a moment and then realized it was a temporary drop site for discarded trees that were destine for the wood chipper at the local recycling center. It was a sad sight.

xmas tree

Thirty million living trees get cut down, displayed for a few weeks and then shredded into little pieces, all with a 30 day timeframe. When you really think about it, it’s a crazy wasteful tradition. A carbon eating, oxygen producing living thing is obliterated for a commercial holiday and it happens 30 million times a year, every year!

Trees are grown just for this purpose but it still seems so destructive and wasteful. It’s an energy intensive process no matter how you look at it: fuel for the machinery to prepare the ground to plant the tree, energy to actually plant the tree, natural gas to make fertilizer to grow the tree, gas to trim and then cut the tree down, fuel to transport the tree to market, gas to get the tree home, electricity to light the tree, gas to dump the tree and finally energy to grind the tree up. Wasteful.

Maybe this isn’t a big issue but all those half brown, half green trees haphazardly thrown all over the vacant lot appeared obscenely disrespectful to life itself. Perhaps a big company in need of a public relation makeover, like Walmart, could start a new tradition where they rent out living Christmas trees that can be returned after the holidays. The trees can then be planted or reused the following year.

Or maybe I shouldn’t look around when I’m driving and just ignore the craziness.

Grounds for Saving the World

When I grow up, I want a coffee machine that makes that first cup of the day automatically and perfectly. I want to come downstairs and be greeted by the rich aroma of caffeinated creativity. Then, with steaming cup in hand, I am ready to go save the planet.

Now it is heartening to discover that all this is possible. The coffee machine you can research for yourself, but I recently received a comment in response to a post in which I wrote about an initiative by two young Cal entrepreneurs who grow mushrooms in coffee grounds.


Now meet Shane Genziuk and friends, who run an initiative called Coffee Grounds to Grounds. They organize groups to collect their coffee grounds and recycle them in the garden. The nutritional worth of these grounds for the earth, plants and wildlife is impressive. The work that these young women do is as well. What is also encouraging is that we can all do our bit here – coffee drinkers to save the planet.

Now excuse me while I go pour myself a cup of Fogbuster coffee. By the way – Fogbuster is made by a great local coffee company called Jeremiah’s Pick.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

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