During January, as I was putting together this issue of Edible East Bay, I fell into the habit of taking a daily hike at Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline in San Leandro, a semi-wild peninsula of parkland that was created on landfill right behind the dump at the end of David Street. The park is a good place to go when mulling things over, since its 157 acres are crisscrossed with paths, allowing a pensive walker to meander aimlessly through the shrubs and the relics of dismantled masonry structures as shore birds, kites, hawks, and the traffic of Oakland International Airport go by overhead.
The dump is, of course, no longer called “the dump,” but rather the “Materials Recovery Facility,” an indication that we’re taking some responsibility for our trash and not generating acres of waste that must be sequestered as landfill-at least not right here. There’s a pleasing piney scent emanating from the facility
these days as Christmas trees, the bulk of the waste from our most recent holiday season, are being “recovered” as mulch, which will be put to good use as landscaping material nearby. But I wonder; could we celebrate without generating waste?
Just as this magazine comes out, we’ll have two opportunities to try, and they should be pretty easy in the scheme of things. Our Valentine’s chocolates and flowers don’t need to be wrapped in plastics, and as we savor a celebratory Chinese New Year Feng zhao (chicken foot dim sum), we can think about other ways to enjoy the whole animal and not just the meatiest parts of it. Some of our markets and food-service businesses are going to considerable efforts to help us wean ourselves of disposable wrappers and containers, so we have that opportunity to join daily in rethinking our way out of the Age of Plastics. But it’s only a start.
These are the kinds of things I’m pondering while hiking out on the landfill. The issues of taking responsibility for our lifestyle are much bigger than plastic wrappers, and it often seems difficult to know where to begin, but as with any kind of learning (or relearning), we can only go one step at a time. Right now I see that our steps leading toward the far end of the quarter covered in this issue bring us to Earth Day, the 40th anniversary. There are going to be myriad prospects for learning at East Bay community celebrations, so keep your ears open for the announcements. The events will be scheduled for April 17 and 18 with Global Days of Service, April 22 with a Global Day of Action (or Conversation, as it is also being called), and April 24 with the Global Day of Celebration.
Meanwhile, if you feel so inclined, wander over to a blog by an East Bay resident, Beth Terry, who has been talking about these issues for several years at fakeplasticfish.com. Her 2007 tour of the Davis Street Materials Recovery Facility taught me a lot about what I’ve been watching from my vantage point at Oyster Bay, and her recent post about Valentine’s Day gives excellent advice on how to make this next holiday coming up a plastic-free celebration.
Happy Life Without Plastics,