The Bag Lady

Tess' Trash Talk: Blog entry #3

I might be called the Bag Lady, but at least the bag is small. For now, and maybe for the rest of the Trash Challenge.

Well all you people who were gleefully looking forward to watching me perform this awful task... Ha! I'm still not carrying around much trash. I told the folks here at Marketplace that I wasn't a big "waster" and they said hey you probably throw away more than you think you do. Well so far, I don't.

Speaking of the office... I caught some flak from colleagues yesterday who pointed out that I wasn't literally carrying my trash EVERYWHERE. Like into the studio. And to editorial meetings. I was leaving it in my office. No dice! said they. So my trash made its debut in the Marketplace studios today while I was interviewing the author of a new book called The Missing Class. My producer laughed at me. (Stay tuned for the interview in an upcoming edition of Marketplace Money.)

Back to the trash itself... I'm finding that the bulk of my "tossage" is happening at work. Our building's recycling program only allows office paper, glass bottles and aluminum cans. That's it. Quite frustrating. For example, that Starbucks cup that holds my grande extra-hot nonfat latte? Goes in the recycling bin at home. Goes in the garbage at work.

Of course, I could haul all my work trash home every day, but really? Though now that I think of it, the easy solution there would be to get a carry-cup that I just wash out. I should do that. OK, I'll do that. Starting tomorrow morning. (I've done this in fits and spurts before... Time to try it again.)

But all kinds of other recyclable trash just goes to waste all over this building. We have what we call a Green Team here at Marketplace and they're doing their best to find more solutions. But we're just tenants in an office complex and can't make up the rules.

For those of you who haven't seen all the comments from blog readers, Diane found a fantastic list of all the things you can compost. I wish I had room in my bin to do all of this (I think mine is only about 35 gallons). But at least for these next two weeks I should be able to toss in all kinds of things I didn't know were compost fodder.

Oh... and did I mention my friends have taken to calling me the Bag Lady?

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
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What about wiping your hands after you wash in the office restroom? Air dry. Shake dry. Every little bit counts.

I have been an avid recycler since high school. In 1993 during my senior year I started the environmental club and we started collecting all the recycables from my high school. It actually was 3 of us that did all the work but in about 5 months we collected over 5,000 pounds of recyclables. Anyway I won the presidential award for leadership at graduation for my efforts it was a great honor.
Ever since I have tried to minimize my garbage and recycle as much as I can from what I consume. At almost every job I have had I started recycling programs. Currently I work as a pharmacist and I frequently take home large bags of plastic bottles and paper (without the personal health info of course).

Thanks for bringing this problem to light.

Paul Moser

Hey, Tess! Great story.

My office works the same in that we can only recycle office paper. Nothing else. So, I keep a box under my desk and put any other recyclable items in it and take it home once a week and make sure it gets in my recycling bin at home. Some of my coworkers think I'm weird, but others have started doing the same thing (or they ask if they can put it in my box!)

Another solution to your starbucks cup problem could be to not buy starbucks. It's a rip off and you can make the coffee yourself. I'm not a huge coffee drinker anyway so take that with a grain of salt. :)

Thanks for this all all of your excellent reporting. Keep up the hard (stinky) work!

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