Miles of Ribbon

When driving the roads in my neighborhood over the past few weeks, I have noted how much trash my neighbors, and really, all Americans, generate. It is downright obscene how much stuff we consume and throw away. During the holidays, the problem is exacerbated by the huge amount of paper and plastic waste produced by gift giving. The packaging and gift wrapping industries have little incentive to eliminate their lucrative multi-billion dollar markets, so the amount of single use items continues to proliferate. Sure, recycled materials have found their way into packaging, but how much of a difference is that really making? The real issue is consumption.

A November article in the Washington Post said that, “If every family in the United States saved and reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of the trimming saved could tie a bow around the planet.” That is sick. When I read that, and then drove by a neighbor who was lugging four times his normal garbage load to the curb, I thought about an International Herald Tribune article that I read when in Geneva last summer. The article described how the tony Long Island town of East Hampton, New York has “pay as you throw” trash disposal. The article goes on to say that, “…that you become intensely aware of how much garbage you generate, and intensely motivated to generate less.” What an unique concept! This proves that most things in life are about incentives, or the lack of incentives. Read the book, Freakonomics and you will become blissfully aware of how incentives work. You can even keep up with the authors’ fresh ideas on their New York Times blog.

The same argument about incentives can be made for gasoline consumption as trash consumption. Unless people are given a strong reason to reduce consumption (often through higher prices), then patterns of use and abuse will not change. Our family wishes that everyone else would care as deeply about how much household waste they generate, as we do. At the most, we throw out three small bags of garbage a month. We reuse much of the packaging that we consume. We compost our food waste. We recycle all our plastic, metal, paper, and cardboard. When you take these steps, your true net garbage is next to nothing.

1 Response to “Miles of Ribbon”

  1. 1 pcale 16 January 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! We reuse and reuse and reuse ribbon so much that right after Christmas, we iron it so that it’s not crumpled or wrinkled for next year – and it looks just like new!! And, I reuse tissue paper, boxes and gift bags – sometimes for 4 or 5 years until they get grungy looking. It’s not about being “cheap” – it’s about being smart and responsible. It’s very simple if people just took the time and effort – and it’s not even noticable.

    Great job on your blog, Scott! (Now, I’ve got to get back to work)…


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@thecubscouts #pinewoodderby never gets old. Pack 157 Bolton, Connecticut #cubscouts So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏

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