Wednesday, March 31, 2010

K is for Ketchup Packet in the Compost

I'll start by admitting that I wanted to title this post "K is for Kompost". But I've long been very vocal about anyone who does not take spelling seriously, and have complained loudly and vehemently about businesses who invent their own spellings just to the have alliteration in their signs. Please note I didn't say "signage". I also have a pet-peeves about corporate buzz-words...in fact, I have a lot of pet-peeves.

I'm peeved about the whole craze of being "green" or seeming to be "green" but being oh so ridiculously wasteful anyway. I saw a prime example of this last week at what used to be my favorite sub shop. It *kills* me not to be able to go there anymore. It's for the best though, I should be making my own sandwiches anyway, and I'm rather good at it. In fact, even my sister, who doesn't eat sandwiches, will eat the ones I make. I digress. (I do it a lot. You will find that you usually get two posts for the price of one if you keep reading me...)

This particular sub shop is in Boulder County, CO and you don't get a lot greener than that. We have single stream recycling picked up at the curbside. You can drop off your tree limbs at the tree limb recycling area in town, and pick up firewood, or wood chips as you leave. We have an eco-cycle drop off site where they accept just about anything, and we have regularly scheduled "large-item drop-days" arranged by our city, in addition to the free days at the county dump. At our {insert name of large coffee chain based in Seattle here}, monster size bags of coffee grounds sit ready to be picked up on the counter because so many people compost and garden, it's just easier for them to have it ready than to have to make special arrangements. There are even signs in the parking lot of our newest mall that say, "Parking for Alternative Fuel Vehicles Only." And you'll pass a many of them as you drive our roads. But watch out for the bicycles, because many, many of us bike to work daily.

It is in this environment that you'll find the sub shop that has won awards for its handling of trash/recycling/waste. There are no less than five different bins into which you sort your trash, should you actually have any, when you're done eating. The cups for the fountain drinks are made from corn, which you compost, as are the straws, and your straw wrapper is paper, so that goes in the paper recycling. Your bottle, if you didn't have a fountain drink, is glass, so that goes in the glass recycling. They have even anther recycling bin for aluminum cans. But your bottle CAP, needs to go in the trash. They can't do much about it's footprint on the environment, so they allow you to throw it away. Friendly signs explain all this and offer examples of what goes where, with cute little cartoons and bubble letters, and rhymes. And they offer counter examples, "No ketchup packets in the compost".

But what happens to the left-over food? Most of us take that home. And that brings me to the whole point of why I'm writing this. (No, I'm not one of those environmental nuts who cares more about Mother Earth than than unborn babies. God says murder is wrong. Obviously for another post but some of you are just getting to know me and I thought I'd just throw that out there in case some of you need to leave now.) This particular visit was a special occasion.It was Jake's 13th birthday and these sandwiches are his absolute favorite so were splurging. They of course made YellowBoy's sandwich wrong. We do know it's weird to go to a sub shop and just want meat on bread and NOTHING ELSE. But that's what he wanted, and that's what we ordered, and that's what I explained to them about the ultra-picky eater. I thought I was very clear. I quote, "He's very picky. So please somehow indicate that all he wants is the bread and these meats and absolutely nothing else on that sandwich." I couldn't see over the counter to where she was writing, but she wrote something, and we sat down to wait.

These masterpieces of wonderfulness take a long time to make, and it was a long line during a Friday lunch rush. Jake and I are salivating thinking of what's to come: corned beef with swiss, their special blend of hot peppers, other peppers and pickled veggies all in some wonderful italian oil concoction that comes on all sandwiches and is what I suspect makes the whole darn thing so hard to duplicate at home, (Yes, I have tried. Repeatedly. I'm on a budget people, and I love to cook, I WILL keep trying) lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sprinkled with their signature spice blend, then toasted to perfection, on their homemade crusty bread. A sandwich so thick you have to unhinge your jaw to take a bit, a sandwich whose last step of construction is a giant, probably patented SQUISH by the artist so that you have SOME hope of your unhinged jaw fitting around a corner. Oh, the bliss. Oh the joy. They call my name. I fetch. YellowBoy's sandwich looks suspiciously thick. We open it up. It has everything on it. Disaster.

I calmly return to the counter and explain. I've only opened the sandwich a tiny bit, to peek at it. I've only exposed the center cut to look at the cross section. It has not been touched by human hands, and has barely been breathed on. He takes the sandwich with a smile and THROWS IT IN THE TRASH. What? No "oops" pile? No "Donate to the Our Center We Made This Sandwich Wrong" pile? No "Staff Take Home at The End of The Day" pile? Are you kidding me? This place which recycles STRAW WRAPPERS throws away perfectly good food? Home Depot won't throw away wrong paint. They sell it to me to paint my tree house. But you'll throw away perfectly good food (ok, not perfectly good, the health department would probably not like it that it left your counter for 20 seconds, but we're not talking stupid government agency here, we're talking normal people common sense.)

I am baffled and appalled by this. The Engineer worked many long years doing the pizza thing. At the end of the night, staff took home those oops pizzas, and those that weren't wanted by staff, he drove to the homeless shelter. They even baked up the last of that day's dough into just plain flat bread because otherwise they'd have to throw it out. And that was in the 1990s before recycling became a religion. How can this sub shop call themselves green and toss food? It goes against common sense.

And it's another example of people trying to look good on the outside, when the problem is really on the inside. It's a matter of heart, and if our hearts aren't in the right place, we sure can't hope to do the right thing. It's the people that matter, not the planet. It's the people.

This is my first alphabe-Thursday post for Ms. Jenny Matlock. Check it out! Great group of bloggers!

31 comments:

Vicki said...

Hi Tina, thanks for coming over to my K post. I've taken a minute to look through your and have to laugh. If misspelled words drive you nuts,,well, that's what you'll find on mine..
Example..my once a week post called 'WHATTHEHECK' WEDNESDAY. I tend to spell like I talk, that's just me. But I really hope you'll keep visiting and even go see mt other blog All My Yesterdays. The spelling is better on that one (o:
Love your first K post and will be back to learn more.
Take care

Vicki said...

haha, how funny, I usually re-read my comments so I can fix the oops ones...In a hurry this morning and didn't. Just for you, I'll fix the mis- spelled ones (o:
YOURS and AT...sorry!

My name is PJ. said...

This wastefulness is going to be the death of me, I swear! And with all the homeless hungry people out there!

K is for - Kick the ass of the Knucklehead who tosses good food in the trash!

Great K!

Viki said...

I can understand with law suits and stuff why they might not want to reuse food if returned. However, you would think there could be an alternative they could come up with.

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

I hate wasted food! Although I'm not sure what the answer would be in this situation, you think that the company wouldn't want to lose money that way.

Amanda said...

I'm still giggling over PJ's comment. I totally agree with you, Tina, we see this in the design industry, as well. Businesses (and universities especially) will want perfectly good flooring torn up, so they can replace it with "green" flooring made from bamboo (which is not necessarily green, or healthy, AND typically has a huge human rights cost). But the business wants to be able to market that that they are "green", so off the the landfill with the old stuff....

laterg8r said...

very wasteful of them!

Keri "The Coupon Lady" said...

I'm totally with you on the spelling issue! I had lots of good ideas for K, but none of them actually started with K and I can't stand it when people misspell things intentionally.

As far as the sandwiches go, I've worked in restaurants before. The health department won't let them resell the sandwiches or give them to customers for free (lawsuit potential). Many restaurants also won't let employees have the leftovers because then people will intentionally make mistakes just to get the leftovers. (I've never known people to do this, but employers get paranoid I guess.)

Christy said...

what they need is a good long episode of "undercover boss" :)
what a shame, i hate to see food go to waste like that. i was so glad that you clarified that ketchup packets DON'T go in the compost!!

Jackie said...

Hello , boy o boy I hope ms matlock isn't going to be upset about you saying you have a problem with people using K as in Kompost lol Does Ms Matlock KNOW how to spell it? j/k

Anyhow that is wierd about those who are supposed to be saving the planet with all their recycling but they throw perfectly good food away , ya that doesn't make any sense. McDonalds does the same thing. They throw away their big macs after burgers are in the heating tray longer than 10 minutes or something like that. I see them do it all the time. It's a SIN to waste perfectly good food imo. Thanks for a wonderful K post .

Jenny said...

First of all...class please welcome Tina to Alphabe-Thursday!

Tina. I am overwhelmed by your lovely writing.

Oh my girl, you are talented.

First of all, please send this into Mother Earth or a similar magazine for submission. It is well written to the point of professionalism.

Your message is both poignant and provocative.

This was an absolutely magnficent K post.

I thank you sincerely for sharing it.

Please submit it.

Your message needs to be heard.

I usually put a silly grade on the end of these posts but girlfriend...you are at honors level here so I will simply end by telling you...outstanding.

Tina said...

@Jackie: Well since I'm new in the class I for sure didn't want to get in trouble on the first day...I've been trying to get acquainted and have been reading up on as many of the J's as I can...and there seemed to be some troubles for language...so I suppose I could be um...trying to get on her good side...shhh...don't tell, 'k? (get it? K? ) It's not easy being the new kid in school coming in at the middle of the year...don't know how much kidding she likes...

JoAnn said...

I'm so with you on this! Therein lies the reason that Boulder County inhabitants make me want to rip my arm out it's socket and beat them with it. I say that as a 15 year resident of said county. It's all about walking the walk.

RNSANE said...

Very good post. What a shame that food is wasted in this manner. Having worked the last 21 years as a forensic nurse for the city and county of San Francisco doing child and adult sexual assault cases, I've dealt with many of the city's indigent poor, homeless and starving. A sandwich like that would have been so welcome! They should have just given you that one, an apology, and made another one for your son! Outrageous.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Wonderful commentary. There is a South Park episode where all of the "smug" from people who are smug about their enviromental awareness overcomes the little town of South Park. It's in one of the first seasons and I love it!

RNSANE said...

Tina, thanks so much for your dear comment on my blog and for signing up to follow me! I will enjoy reading your posts as well!

Amy said...

what a wonderful post and great way to see the letter K. Thanks for stopping by and opening up my eyes..

Julie Schuler said...

I am jealous that your community is so ecologically conscious, though. I would love to have a fraction of that consciousness in this hillbilly dump I live in.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I hate to see food wasted too, but even if I worked there I wouldn't want the returned sandwich at the end of my shift. There are sick people that try strange things...like cyanide in Tylenol, etc. If no employee watched as the sandwich was opened and checked there's no way to know for sure it was OK. I would imagine health department regulations might come into play too.

Steph said...

I read the whole thing.... and was delighted by your wit and way of communicating. Recycling has not caught on big where we live in that there are lots of people to provide jobs for. So lots of someones go through every bit of trash and sort, sell, and compost. Anyway, I diverge. It is a matter of the heart and caring enough to expend time and energy to do differently (as opposed to concern for appearances). Thank you for making me think.

Christy said...

Hmm, I don't understand why they didn't ask you if you wanted it anyhow? It was their mistake, you obviously aren't trying to scam them. This post really gets me wondering about what they could and should do with the food.
I am new to the class also - 2nd week, everyone plays so nicely!

Linda said...

Great post and welcome to Alphabe-Thursday! I am signing on to follow you! What a wonderful writer, look forward to more! This post really hit me hard, hate waste and we do way to much of that in this country.

Maggie B said...

Excellent K post, I think you'll fit right in at Mrs Matlock's. Thanks for visiting Normandy, come back again soon won't you?
~Maggie~

mbkatc230 said...

Hi Tina! Great post and welcome to class. We live right outside of Austin, so this sounds remarkably familiar to me :) I know that there are health dept. rules about this, but good grief! With so many people homeless and out of work you'd think they could come up with a better solution than the trash. And don't worry about getting in trouble, Mrs. Matlock is pretty cool. And besides, I've met some good friends in detention. Kathy

Nora Johnson said...

Wonderful post & many thanks for stopping by!

Look forward to *seeing* you again!

XOXI LOLA:)

Pondside said...

Hi Tina - great post - really great post!
Up here the federal and provincial governments spend a fortune telling us how green they are. So the latest crazy green-ness? Putting all the mail for Vancouver Island into a truck, putting the truck on the ferry, trucking the mail to a Vancouver sorting site, then loading the mail for the Island back onto the truck, onto the ferry and back for delivery. All that oil, all that time, all that waste. I just don't get it.

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Awesome post for K-Day! Great choice! Thanks for your visit and have a fabulous weekend! Coralie

Mumsy said...

I would love to have "green center" area like yours. I used my coffee ground for my garden, and tried not to waste food.

Sarah said...

Bravo! This is soooo on target! I think about this with food stores who claim to be "green" and dispose perfectly good food right into the trash bins. I just don't get it.
So glad you've joined Mrs. Matlock's class. I like the way you think!!! You are an excellent writer. I agree with Mrs. M you need to submit this for publication!
Hope you and your family have a terrific weekend! ~ Sarah

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Great post! But oh dear! I am guilty, guilty, guilty, when it comes to sliding a miss-spelled word in there to fit and also unintentionally.

Hope that you still take a peek at my place (and hope you overlook my "mis-spelllings". (hm..."mis-spellings" doesn't sound quite right...)

Blessings & Aloha!
(I am once again tardy! thankfully, sweet Jenny let me into class...so now I'm trying to get to all the K posts, before it's time already for the L posts! I'd love if you get a chance to stop by mine.)

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

There are all sorts of rules now about what leftover food can go where. And sometimes companies are afraid they'll be sued.

Meat, as a rule, can't be composted. It takes forever to break down (kind of like fat in our bodies), and it attracts more bugs and animals to the composter.

Be that as it may, that would have bothered me too. One, that they didn't listen to the order, and two, that it all went to waste due to someone's plain-old-not-listening.

Loved your intro to this post! You had me laughing from the "I'll start" admission...

You might laugh at my "rock" post tomorrow. Read on!