All posts by tylertalkstrash

Hierarchy to Reduce Waste & Grow Community

The following comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (, a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen local economies, and redirect waste into local recycling, composting, and reuse industries. It is reprinted here with permission.

ILSR comes through with yet another killer infographic demonstrating the clear need for source reduction and composting over trashing and burning.

New report from GAIA!

GAIA just dropped a killer new report on the perils of incineration.

We already know how bad incinerators (pyrolysis, gasification, waste-to-energy) are in terms of the pollutants they spew out, but this report appeals even to the conservative bean counters.

Yes, incinerators are the most expensive high-risk solution to dealing with waste.  Stop supporting them.

They compete with recycling and composting programs, both of which are more cost effective and practical solutions that even create more jobs than incineration.

Here’s the press release:

Berkeley, U.S. — A new risk analysis from GAIA finds that companies promoting “waste-to-energy” projects like gasification and pyrolysis have a 30-year track record of failures and unfulfilled promises. After decades of industry promising a solution that both manages waste and produces energy, the vast majority of proposed plants were never built or were shut down.

“The global spotlight on marine plastic pollution has led to increasing proposals for technological solutions. But it’s important that investors recognize these processes do not work as promised and  set us back in developing real solutions,” says report author Monica Wilson.

According to the report Gasification and Pyrolysis: A high risk, low yield investment, “the potential returns on waste gasification are smaller and more uncertain, and the risks much higher, than proponents claim.” Billions of dollars of investments have been wasted on unsuccessful ventures in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, United States and Germany, to name a few. In 2016, the failed UK project by U.S.-based Air Products lost $1 billion alone.

Many gasification projects that started operations, have closed after failing to meet projected energy generation, revenue generation, and emission requirements. Despite decades of opportunity the industry has not resolved these problems. Other projects have failed in the proposal stage — after raising significant investments — due to community opposition and government scrutiny into false and exaggerated claims.

Gasification plants have sought public subsidies to  be profitable — particularly from  feed-in tariffs. However, these facilities would regularly burn fossil fuel-sourced material including plastic waste and coal, contradicting the purpose of “renewable energy.”

Over 100 major environmental organizations released a public letter in February stating that “We are deeply concerned by the promotion of feed-in-tariffs and other renewable energy subsidies for gasification, incineration, and the use of plastics as fuel.”

The report concludes that municipal zero waste programs relying on source separation, recycling,composting, and redesign of no-value products have demonstrated economic and technical success.

Check out the full report by clicking here.

Have an Idea for a Compost System?

compost contest

Have you ever wanted to design your own composter?

The Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council is seeking designs for neighborhood-scale, in-vessel composting systems that can be used by schools and community organizations.

Successful designs will be:

• Fully-enclosed and rodent-proof
• Able to function year-round outdoors in Philadelphia’s climate
• One to three cubic yards in capacity
• Easily constructed and maintained

The winner receives a $500 prize and recognition for their design by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability and the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council!

Compost is the nutrient-rich, earthy-smelling material created by the managed decomposition of organic matter. Community composting transforms organic matter into valuable soil amendments, keeps organic waste in a local closed-loop system, and engages communities through participation and education.

Submit designs by March 15, 2017.   Finalists’ designs will be selected by March 29.  If you are a finalist, we will provide funding for you to build your design.

Finished compost systems will need to be transported to a testing site in Philadelphia by April 26.  Finalist compost systems will then be tested over the summer, and a winner will be announced in Fall 2017.

Visit for more information, including a full list of specs and requirements.

Does Adding Worms to Your Compost Bin Make a Difference?

A few months ago, I placed a few red wiggler worms in my outdoor trash can compost bin to see what they would do.

It ends up they multiplied and they’re eating through my food scraps nicely!

Composting worms make a great addition to compost bins smaller than 1 cubic yard.  Technically, they work with any size system, but the worms will make more of a noticeable difference with smaller systems since they take longer to process organic material.

Two issues with small-scale compost bins include that they don’t get as hot, and the contents don’t break down as fast- adding worms will greatly help with both.

I Still Get Strange Looks When I Do This…

backpackFor some reason, I still get vibed out when I bring my own bag to the grocery store… how is this still a foreign concept?

Then again, old habits die hard and forming new habits is a pain in the ass, too- I get that (I’ve been trying to quit biting my fingernails for over a decade and still haven’t kicked it).

Anyway, up above is a picture of my backpack.  I’ve had it forever, and it has served me well in more situations than I can count.

The little bag at the bottom of the picture is the Chico Bag.

Between these two items, there’s no reason why I should I ever have to use a bag, paper or plastic- again.

Of course there’s times where you might forget- The Chico Bag has a little clip on it so you can attach it to something, if you remember to do that.

Plastic bags are the worst and paper bags aren’t all that much better.  I’ve talked about this in the past plenty of times and I’ll continue to mention it until not only do we have a bag tax but everyone is subconsciously doing it.

[Bringing your own bags isn’t a groundbreaking message, either…trust me, I’m aware.  However, it’s important to speak up…I guess.]

Admittedly, I’m still the guy that gets annoyed when someone asks me if I’d like a bag for that single item I purchased that fits in my fist… “it’s for convenience” was always the original response.  Over the last year or so, responses have increasingly changed to “you’d be surprised how many people ask for a bag”.

Either there’s more jerks like me, or more people are declining the bag.  Either way, just decline the bag.  Millions of these things are wasted per day, and their life is about 5 minutes.

Plastic bags (and film plastics in general) are considered a contaminant by the recycling industry.  As for paper bags, I can either pray to the recycling gods it will get recycled (best option assuming it does get recycled), or I can confidently compost it at home, but at least you can see it through without relying on anyone else.

Get in the habit of carrying a backpack to the grocery store, or a duffle bag, or a bunch of Chico Bags, or a well-made reusable bag, or really anything.  Use the bottom of your shirt.  Tuck your pant leg into your sock.  Fill up your shoes with quinoa and granola and walk home barefoot.

This is merely step 1 in cutting your plastic footprint.  Check out Beth Terry’s Plastic Free to take it to the next level… this book rules.  She’s very aware how tricky it is to cut your plastic intake, and even acknowledges how frustrating it can be to avoid purchasing plastic.  At one point it even led her to drink a lot- sadly I know exactly what this feels like.

Just try it.  If you’re frustrated with how to make a positive impact, or just want to “get involved” a bit more, or you’re up for an extremely simple challenge with a simple benefit for the entire glob of star stuff we live on- bag your own groceries in your own bag (and don’t give me that “you’re putting someone out of a job” crap either- think a little harder about that one).

No Impact Man…Had an Impact on Me.

I finally saw No Impact Man… only came out in 2009, not bad right?

There’s not a whole lot to say about it… I definitely went into it jaded and hoping that I would learn something- it ended up exceeding my expectations for sure.

He knew what he was talking about- he understood that plastics recycling is not the end of our responsibilities, as plastics are fluctuating commodities and most of them aren’t recycled anyway.  He understood the importance of composting, biking, and satisfaction through reduction.

What I related to the most were the scenes that focused on him questioning the whole point of the project- Who cares?  Does anyone care?  What’s the point?

Anyone that digs into environmental issues will have this wash of emotions hit them in the head from time to time.  It reminded me of Plastic Free when Beth Terry talks about how she started getting wasted more often the more she learned- I can relate.

From the start, I was curious if he was going to create a compost toilet system or if he’d go with worm composting like apartment dwellers often feel limited to.  He went with the worms, and while there were several positive scenes showing them doing their thing, he ended up having bug infestations and didn’t show if he solved them.

A vinegar and dish soap trap usually does it, and they’re totally necessary as you will at some point have bugs- it’s a natural ecosystem and they’re part of it.

I loved the pot-in-pot refrigerator… I’ve never seen anyone do it, I’ve only heard about it.  Therefore, I think that’s what I’m going to learn more about next.  It seemed like the family gave up on it really quickly in the movie.

I think that’s my major takeaway from this- don’t simply talk about something, or even just read about something- just try something.  Failing sucks (kind of), but at the end of the day the only way you’ll really understand your perspectives is by just trying stuff out.

I suck at cooking- but I’ve seen time and time again how people have made their meals from bulk bins with no problem.  Time to start cringing while I get better at cooking.  I made the worst meal the other day, but it got my gears turning on how to make it better tonight and I felt it start tuning my taste buds to know when something needs a little more of this and a little less of that.

My juicing regimen is plastic and packaging free, so why not make my food that way?  Sure, I could say I don’t have time blah blah blah, but that’s always the excuse, isn’t it?

Like another opinion needs to be heard regarding No Impact Man… I got tired of being asked if I saw it and that kept me from seeing it…how stupid is that.

Anyway, any negative critique of it is simply close-minded people projecting their own insecurities onto him and his family.

If someone can’t understand that humanity is the problem and that we’re not important besides the pollution we create, which results in the destruction of our planet…well, take his advice and go try something new.

Kudos, No Impact Family- you made a hell of an impact.

Dumpster Diving Tips

The other day I happened to be exploring in a messy Center City alley when I found my favorite dumpster a complete mess.  There were opened trash bags all over the place, and some people loudly walking away with a bunch of stuff.

I feel like a cranky old fart… this is the kind of behavior that causes businesses to replace dumpsters with compactors, and add chains and barbed-wire fences to protect their so-called waste.  Manners really go a long way here.

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone over the rules of dumpster diving…I think it’s time to review:

1) If you remove stuff from the dumpster, put it back when you’re done.  Leave the area cleaner than you found it- don’t be a jerk.

2) Don’t go through dumpsters during business hours unless you’re being extremely discreet.

3) If an employee sees you digging and asks you to leave, do it.  Apologize and come back another time.

4) Assume that what you’re doing is illegal, even if you’re sure it isn’t.  Is it private property?  Is it trespassing?  Is it theft?  Probably not, but it isn’t a debate I feel like having with a pissed off employee or police officer- get in and get out fast!

5) If you find personal information, which you most likely will, deface it.  Give them a pass and hopefully they’ll learn to protect their privacy soon.

6) Only take what you need.


Quick tips:

1) If you’re working from inside the dumpster, which I recommend, wear a headlamp.  Nothing is more annoying than having a flashlight in your mouth.  Gloves go a long way, too.

2) Go with a buddy.  Having a lookout comes in handy, especially if you’re both inside the dumpster.  Nothing is more annoying than having a bag of trash dumped on you.

3) If it’s a high profile mission, hang around the area in advance without actually digging.  Are there cameras?  Security vehicles?  Do employees come outside to have a smoke every ten minutes?  Timing is key.

Obviously I don’t have all the answers, but following these simple guidelines will ensure you don’t run into any issues and walk away with stuff that would have otherwise hit the landfill.  Good luck!

Is Indoor Composting A Bad Idea?

The question remains: what can I do to compost through the winter months?  The answer is to collect as much cover material (leaves, straw) as you can.  Since composting slows to a crawl in the colder months, having extra cover material is important to ensure your deposits are covered.

Otherwise, try your hand at vermicomposting!

Be sure to sign up along the right hand side of this page for my free email course on how to create killer compost in just 7 simple steps, no matter what your situation is.

Get in touch with any questions and be on the lookout for more videos and an e-book coming soon.

Give composting your best shot through the winter season- have some fun and get creative.

Thanks for watching!