Money for trash and the perks aren’t free

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Change, Compost, Consumption, Environment, Local Government, Oklahoma City, Recycling, Tricia Dameron, Waste Management | Posted on 25-08-2009


by Tricia Dameron

City living definitely has its perks. One perk I’m enjoying since we moved to inner-OKC a mere three weeks ago has been curbside recycling. What a treat! Previously we lived in an unincorporated area and had to haul our recycling to a drop-off center during Saturday morning errands. Everything had to be sorted and it was common for the dumpsters to be overflowing with recyclables, resulting in us carting our waste back to the house.

Today is trash day in my new neighborhood and as I made my way to the office, I pondered the missing “Little Blues” at many of my neighbors’ curbs. I cannot comprehend why someone would opt out of curbside recycling. Because of my various residences, taking recycling to drop-off centers has always been a highly regarded pain in the butt. Comparatively, curbside recycling is a luxury. As of July 2009 26 percent of OKC trash customers set out their “Little Blue” every week and 52 percent of the same participate in curbside recycling, according to Mark Jordan at Recycle America. Perhaps you’re asking yourself, “What is the difference between set-out rate and participation rate?” I’m not clear on that yet, but check back for more information in the comments.

I wish Oklahoma City had a residential pay-as-you-throw program. I recycle and compost without financial incentive, but it would nice (and logical) to pay less when I use less (landfill space), as it is with gas, electricity, and city water. For $16.23/month, you can fill two 90-gallon “Big Blue” containers per week. A third 90-gallon cart costs an additional $2.76/month. I can request a smaller cart, but I’ll pay the same if I dispose 7 gallons or 180 gallons of waste per week. I wonder if there has been any correlation between pay-as-you-throw programs and multiplying illegal dump sites?

Recycling can also be incentivized by container deposit legislation (also called a “bottle bill”), which requires a refundable deposit on beverage containers. Seven states with bottle bills studied litter rates and found a substantial reduction in beverage container litter. Oklahoma Department of Transportation spends $3.5 million/year cleaning up litter along state highways. A 1998 litter survey found beverage containers to be the fourth highest source of litter in Oklahoma.

Iowa, with land area and population comparable to Oklahoma, enacted a bottle bill in 1978. If Iowa can do it, why can’t Oklahoma? Several attempts to enact a bottle bill have failed in the Oklahoma Legislature. In 2008 a measure creating a task force to simply study container deposit legislation didn’t even get a committee hearing.

Spending taxes to pick up litter will never cure the problem. And burying reusable materials — materials that save money, energy and natural resources — comes straight from pages of “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” by Jared Diamond. Both practices seem antithetical to the fiscally conservative values of the political majority here in Oklahoma.

What’s red hot, green and fun?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Events, Local Economy, Oklahoma City, Recycling | Posted on 15-04-2009


Answer: Rethink: Recycle: Redesign

Special preview party 

imageSaturday . April 18 . 2009

7 – 11 p.m.

IAO Gallery . 811 N. Broadway . Oklahoma City

Purchase preview party tickets here.

Proceeds from the preview party benefit Sustainable OKC and IAO. More info at

Local art, local food, local thinking. Hang out with old friends, make new friends, tap the green vibe!

Sustainable OKC presents an art event and juried show created to challenge artists and designers to RETHINK objects that have reached the end of their lifecycle. The event promotes and encourages green design and sustainability and rethinking how we use objects. The idea is to RECYCLE and REDESIGN by repurposing and transforming objects into art—functional and non-functional. Included works were considered according to various criteria with emphasis on originality of transformation, effectiveness of repurposing, and aesthetics of design. Exhibit runs through May 8.

Rethink:Recycle:Redesign (RRR) is proud to present work from many artists including: Jacine Arias, Paul Bagley, Nick Bayer, Bryan Dahlvang, Bill Derrevere, Ron Ferrell, Helen Grant, Preston Greer, Aaron Hauck, Susan Horton, Reta & Vana Howell, Brad Humphreys, Amy Jones, Trent Lawson, Darci Lenker, Tanya Mattek, Michelle Himes, Regina Murphy, Rebek & Holmes,

Diana Smith, Julie Strauss, Sue Moss Sullivan, and David Surls.

RRR preview party features:

  • A silent auction with great items available for bid including: an Oklahoma State Park stay, a “made in Oklahoma” product basket, Oklahoma Today magazine limited edition Centennial Collection and subscription, private yoga lessons, Yard Dawgs tickets, OKC Thunder basket, a Colcord Hotel stay and more.
  • Educational information will be presented including: Trash Factoids, Green Event Guide, Guide to Green Living, Art Class Contest, World Population DVD, and a geospatial mapping project with information about urban food deserts, 100-mile diet and sustainable dining.
  • Tasty food provided by local restaurants and food producers. Gratitude to: Kam’s Kookery, The Wedge, Earth Elements, Hardesty Cheese, Seasons, Cuppies and Joe, Flip’s Wine Bar & Trattoria, Prairie Gypsies, and Pure Prairie Creamery. 
  • Local music provided by 13 Seeds.

Our generous sponsors: Sonic America’s Drive-In, Sierra Club,, Arts Council of OKC, Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Associates, Amanda Ewing, Jennifer Alig, Shelley Branum and Matt Leveridge, Jamie MacIvor, Shauna and Jim Struby, Vicki VanStavern.

For downloadable educational information about how to put together a green event, lower your carbon footprint, resources and more visit

A Love Letter to the Written Word

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Books, Events, Lindsay Vidrine, Recycling | Posted on 20-02-2009


by Lindsay Vidrine 

In this electronic information
age of text messages and *ehem* blogs, it seems like the written word
is dying, or at least getting reduced to short-hand-friendly acronyms.

I see this slow progression
in ways large and small every day. Traditional outlets for the written
word — like newspapers and books — are moving online, while at the
same time hand-written notes or letters have been replaced by e-mails
and texts.

The shift isn’t always a
bad thing, just look at this Fresh Greens blog. It provides an
forum for idea sharing and issue awareness that brings me together with
people I
may not have otherwise known. I can even understand the environmental
advantages of saving paper and ink by publishing an online newspaper
instead of a disposable hard copy.

All that said, I couldn’t
help but feel a personal loss recently when I asked my intern to write
a letter for me, and she formatted it like an email. I went back and

explained how the date, address, structure and tone should be, but in
turn received a look like I was a fossil that belonged in a museum.

When I later mentioned my evening
plans included a book club discussion, I solidified my status as a relic
in her eyes. While I may have evoked the pity of youth, I couldn’t

help but reciprocate the same emotion. If this loss is being felt in my journalism-based
field, imagine the erosion other academic departments are facing.

This sad realization led me
to seek refuge in the one place that my hope for the written word is
consistently restored — the public library. My love for the library
started early when my mom used to take my sisters and I to go pick out
books as a treat when we were looking for summ
er entertainment. We spent
hours there, carefully making our selections and checking out the maximum
number of books allowed.

I now live near another very
busy library and gain great personal joy in seeing how well-used the
facility, books and programs are by the community. It attracts all ages
and demographics, which makes t
he people watching and the potential
for community interaction unparalleled. The library system is a tried-and-true
example of how recycling can be a symbiotic relationship and never
ceases to remind me how connected people are to the written word.

If you share the same sentiment
for the library but find yourself wanting to purchase gardening, cooking
or other books as reference, you may want to check out the Friends
of the Library
sale on February 21-22 at the state fairgrounds.
It’s the perfect place to purchase
must-have books for your personal library, plus music, movies and even
gifts for others. In true symbiotic fashion, the gently used items are
cheap and proceeds benefit the Metropolitan Library System.