Do the right thing with your post-Christmas waste. (Courtesy photo)

Do the right thing with your post-Christmas waste. (Courtesy photo)

‘Twas the day after Christmas and oh, what a mess

http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/green-space/

‘Twas the day after Christmas, when all through the flat

Not a box lay unopened, all gifts were unwrapped;

Shiny paper and ribbons tossed away without care

In hopes they would soon disappear in the air;

New gadgets were piled ‘round ‘bout on the floor;

Fitbits and iPads and Echos galore;

And my dog on its blanket, and I with hot tea,

Had just settled down to watch some TV,

When out by the trash bins there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Pulled up the blinds and threw up the sash.

The bright winter sun lit the alley below

Quite setting the three little waste bins aglow.

When what did my wondering eyes did I see

But a big garbage truck and a pile of debris,

With one serious driver picking up a soup can,

I knew in a moment he must be the garbage man.

More boxes and bags he threw into his truck,

And he sighed as he grabbed some Styrofoam to chuck,

“Now c’mon why is this place such a mess?

This packaging! This plastic wrap! It’s quite an excess!

There is food in the trash! There’s a mattress on the wall!

What does everyone think happens to it all?”

As he spoke I thought of my new toys on the floor,

And the joy unwrapping them had brought me before,

So I shouted at him, “Hey! What would you have us do?

I’m sure your bins are full of trash today too!”

He stopped and turned and looked at me with a smile,

“Why no one has asked me that in quite a while.

If it was just one day, this mess wouldn’t be any trouble,

But imagine this every day, then double and double.

Every day cardboard boxes resting right over here.

Every day straws, and good food and empty cans of beer.

A bundle one day is not a problem to sack,

But Christmas every day is breaking my back.

So, since you asked, let me give you a few tips

On how to reduce all this trash and come to some grips.”

At this, he popped open my little blue bin

And pulled out some items shaking his head with chagrin.

“This water bottle – so plastic, so unnecessary!

Tap water’s just fine – filter it if you’re wary.

See these to-go bags, forks, unused sauces and things?

It’s easy — say, ‘no thanks’ when you’re ordering.

And this!” He said almost beginning to shout.

“Don’t buy produce in plastic! Please cut it out!

An orange, for example, stays safe in its peel

It doesn’t need to be re-packaged within a plastic seal!”

I laughed when he said this. He’s right, it’s quite strange,

Reducing unnecessary trash should be easy to change.

But what about the stuff I do use every day?

When it breaks or gets empty shouldn’t I throw it away?

I decided to ask my knowledgeable new friend,

“What about useful things that have come to an end?”

He smiled again, closing the bin with a thump,

“You mean, razors and pens and that empty soap pump?

Well, you know you can fill a pen with more ink,

And put a reusable blade near your bathroom sink.

It takes a little practice and then you’ll see

Just how wonderful it is to live life more simply.”

And at that he stopped talking and went straight to his work,

Emptied the three bins; then turned with a jerk,

And laying a finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, into his trash truck he rose;

He sprang to his seat, gave his engine a start,

And without a wave or a bye, I watched him depart.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –

“Happy Holidays San Francisco, I know you’ll make it all right!”

A question from a reader

Where does one put paper coffee cups, which, I understand, are lined with plastic to prevent

leakage? – Steve Lawrence

A strong cup of morning coffee is great for clearing the head, but choosing a bin to toss the to-

go cup isn’t as clear. The black bin in coffee shops is often filled with empty cups. Many San

Franciscans also assume cups should be composted because they’re soiled paper.

The correct answer is the blue bin. Last year, Recology, The City’s recycling provider, and the

Department of Environment, determined that recycling paper cups, with the sleeve and plastic

lid, is the best way to dispose of the item. Please just make sure they’re empty.

Of course, avoiding disposable items is always the best option. Almost all coffee shops,

including Peet’s and Starbucks, offer mugs for people who want to sip their coffee there. It’s

also easy to pack a thermos when you leave the house. Sometimes you can get discounts for

bringing your own reusable items.

Got more sorting questions? I’ve got answers. Email me at bluegreenorblack@gmail.com

Robyn Purchia is an environmental attorney, environmental blogger and environmental activist who hikes, gardens and tree hugs in her spare time. She is a guest columnist. Check her out at robynpurchia.comBay Area News

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read