Trash Trip

Exploring waste, from coast to coast.
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    A Fortunate Series of Events

    Posted By on October 14, 2009

    Go to to see what they're doing!

    Go to to see what they're doing!

    Timing is everything!

    Yet another amazing series of events, resulting in something better than I could’ve ever hoped to have planned. In short, the following series of events lead to me attending the monthly board meeting for StopWaste, for Alameda County:

    Monday, I contacted someone for an interview, who told me I could meet her at an upcoming board meeting – Tuesday morning 10 am – for StopWaste.

    I wouldn’t have known about the meeting, had I not contacted Heidi Sanborn, of the California Product Stewardship Council.

    I wouldn’t have known about Heidi and CPSC if I hadn’t gone to Wastecon.

    I wouldn’t have gone to Wastecon had I not known Lisa Wood, of the San Diego waste management department. Lisa saw one of the re-prints of the article written about my trip, from The Daily Miner, in Fairbanks, AK.

    I wouldn’t have had an article written up about me in Fairbanks had my dad not asked me to call the local newspaper, about an upcoming 40th anniversary of the crash of one of the planes he flew in 1969, Rivet Amber (it crashed months after I was born). After mentioning the upcoming memorial, I mentioned the story about my upcoming trip. . . I had yet to head north, to begin my southbound journey. They wrote about it, on my way south, later that month.

    So, in essence, I was born to do this trip! Everything that’s gone around is coming around, I guess, and in a lovely way as I make my way down the west coast.

    PS I saw this today, my first day back in Sausalito, about their plastic and polystyrene ban. . . local headline news and great timing – for me to find, unexpectedly and serendipitously, once more!

    A Buncha Twitts

    Posted By on October 6, 2009

    Twitter Followers

    Twitter Followers

    I’m not much of a Twitter “follower” but I do provide a way for others to follow Trash Trip via Twitter – for those who do use it.

    Today, I went looking at my list of followers – just over 30, when I started. Then, I looked at each one’s Twitter account, to see if there was something worth following. For those who Twitt, this should be no surprise. . . I found a buncha twits, only aiming at advertising “whatever” – and not necessarily related to trash or recycling, lemme tell ya.

    So, I did my best at screening (i.e. blocking) those whose accounts amounted to an empty advertisement scheme or offer for services that were “not necessary.” Those who remain (today, at around 24 count) are either “real people” or seem to be somehow trash/recycling related.

    Otherwise, if you’re a real human, with a real interest in what’s happening in the world of trash, c’mon and Twitt with me!

    YouTube, iTube, WeAllTube

    Posted By on October 5, 2009

    You Tube Channel - Subscribers

    You Tube Channel - Subscribers

    After posting a ridiculous number of new videos (60+) from August and September’s trips out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean and Wastecon 2009, I checked out my YouTube subscribers. . . all 14 of them πŸ™‚

    Who knew that there was a crowd of trash truck fans? I didn’t. . . before starting this trip. . . but now I do! So, I’m going to do my best at capturing all that I can on the trucks I see along my trip to Argentina. I hope I deliver something fun and interesting for them and those who subscribe to!

    Killer App – Not Killer Bees

    Posted By on October 2, 2009

    Sitting at the bow (in the net) ready to radio the helm about ghost nets.

    Sitting at the bow (in the net) ready to radio the helm about ghost nets.

    I’m finally catching up on adding features to this website – a call-in feature. It’s sooooo cool!!!

    Just click on the button in the right column (it looks exactly like the one above this paragraph), enter your name and number (you have the option to remain “anonymous”), then wait for a call at the number you entered. When you get a call, listen to the instructions from Google Voice, then the outgoing message by me – then fire away with your comments!

    If you want me to add your comments to the (future) podcast, let me know in your message – be sure to speak loudly and clearly, it tends to get a little garble and inaudible, yada, yada, when you don’t.

    So, have some fun and call in your thoughts, comments, news ideas, and more – keep it “trashy” but, you know, not trashy.

    Mega Updates to Photos

    Posted By on September 30, 2009

    Hanging out on the foremast

    Hanging out on the foremast

    After nearly two months of delays, I have FINALLY updated my collection of pictures, from the trip out to the Pacific Gyre. Yay!

    So, head on over to see what’s new – on the pictures page – there are dozens of new albums… dozens. Enjoy!

    (Soon to come, videos. Many, many videos)

    Waistcon (aka Wastecon)

    Posted By on September 28, 2009

    Karen a la cartoon

    Karen a la cartoon

    Last week, I attended in Long Beach, CA. For those who have been to one or two conventions, they all share one similar trait: snacks!! This one was no exception. . . not by a long shot. From ice cream bars and sandwiches, to donuts and cookies, it was there; hard candies, hah! Just walk on by πŸ˜‰ If you’re a serious booth, you have the number one yum: chocolate.

    On that note, however, I found myself perplexed and struggling at one point – when I walked by the booth for “Odor Control.” They had miniature chocolate chunks, enclosed in a custom wrapper labeled with “Odor Control” and “Odor Neutralizers” prominently displayed – among other things. But, nature persisted and the chocolate tasted no different than one lovingly wrapped in words like “Sweetness” and “Chocolate Conquers all Fears.”

    At the convention, I gave a one hour presentation on my travels to date: from Alaska to California. It was an informal affair; I stood at one of the corner “booths” in the central “Break Zone” (where people went to sit, relax, and take a break – sounds appropriate) and gave my one hour tour of the west coast. About ten people joined me, in my fireside storytelling setting (minus the fireside).

    The night and morning before, I spent hours gathering, sizing, and saving a collection of 900+ images to scroll through behind me, while I chatted. That morning, all was working well and I began sharing my story with the handful of people who made their way there to listen. Additional passers-by joined the group and I gladly continued. Meanwhile, my slideshow decided to discontinue its show behind me – as the computer went into screensaver mode. . . with an administrator/password lock-out.

    Yup, you are correct, there were no pictures after that! Oh well. All is well that ends well – because the images were actually a distraction. With the slideshow over, people paid more attention to my words, than my pictures, after that.

    My time slot marked the middle of the convention, with technical sessions and information sessions a plenty, all the while. I went to as many sessions as I could, to gain insight into topics such as: “Extended Producer Responsibility” and “Waste to Energy” (the latter was the hot topic du jour, no pun intended.)

    In closing, I want to thank those who made this happen, for me that is: Lisa Wood and Meri Beth Wojtaszek, among others – thank you! I made several new contacts during the convention, which will continue to “pave the way” as I travel and explore waste.

    Giant Ball of Garbage

    Posted By on September 19, 2009

    Okay, I took some liberties and edited an episode from F u t u r a m a, down to 5 minutes, about 20th century trash returning to earth!

    If this video doesn’t work, it has probably been deleted πŸ™

    I haven’t seen this show in years and happened to see this at a friend’s place just the other day – the timing is impeccable!

    Here are some source links, to more information about this episode and links to the full version:

    New, New, New (old stuff, that is)!

    Posted By on September 16, 2009

    The Thinker Pose - At Urban Ore

    The Thinker Pose - At Urban Ore

    Okay, it has been a mighty long time since I made a real update to my blog.

    Please accept my most heart-felt apologies!

    Okay, with that business aside, here’s why. . . I was gone, quite literally, for the month of August. Just go look at my Map for August 4-27 – I am not kidding you, in the slightest!

    Now, I am in a mad dash to San Diego, bypassing any and all interviews in the bay area (you know, the cutting edge of solid waste management in the US – makes sense, right?) But, again, this is all for good reasons:

    I will be presenting at Wastecon 2009. Come join me!

    Of course, if you cannot make it to San Diego later this month, check out the new (old) stuff I’ve (finally) posted: Pictures, Videos, and Maps.

    My Own Words

    Posted By on August 30, 2009

    I was asked to contribute to the blog for Here is my original version, for some fun comparison:

    The world is a pretty small place, especially when you open yourself to discovering it. It’s also covered with a lot of water and a whole lot of people.

    People make waste, no matter how ecologically forward-thinking they may be; it is a fact of life – not unlike eating, breathing, and drinking. What kinds of waste we make, how much of it we generate, and what we do with it is the debate. Like others, I am in search of ideas and possible solutions. To quote one of my high-school, shop-class teachers, β€œThere are as many opinions out there as there are belly buttons.” Mr. Ebemeier may have taught me welding, metal working, and auto repairs then but he also shined a light on the world around us all.

    In the past, I have done a lot of interesting and uninteresting work; met a lot of interesting and uninteresting people; and learned a lot of interesting and uninteresting things. This year, I am traveling from Alaska to Argentina, β€œexploring waste, from coast to coast.” Having been born in Alaska, forty years ago, I felt it an appropriate place to start. After having traveled around the world as a skydiver, traveling through a variety of cultures was my chosen platform for this trip; I wanted to find out how people from different places view and handle their waste. So, I decided to do what has already been done before – by many people before me but with my own twist – to travel, from the top to the bottom of the Americas, asking questions along the way.

    Even though I’m not even halfway through my trip, I have already experienced many serendipitous moments; moments that one could not have planned. Instead of doing heavy research before arriving at each stop along the route, I let things unfold naturally. By meeting people, listening to their stories, and opening myself to their ideas – instead of making it my prerogative to show others what I know – I was lead to the next person, place, and idea. This tactic, if one could even consider it one, has lead me from riding in a garbage truck in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to crewing on a square-rigged brigantine in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Did I mention that my trip has only just begun? There is much more yet to come.

    On board the Kaisei, I am volunteering as part of a 25-member crew, in search of β€œthe place where forgotten things go.” Things that people forgot to tie down, to put away, to secure in place – on deck or on land – ending up in the wind and the waterways, which flow to the ocean. There is no curbside service, to gather up the debris brought out to the oceans’ gyres around the globe. The efforts of those on board are to study what the effect of our forgotten goods has on the marine environment, as well as possible methods of removing it.

    By the time we make it back on land, it will have been four weeks. This is the first time I’ve been out to sea and on a square-rigged ship. I signed up as crew, less than 24 hours before the boat passed under the Golden Gate bridge, and didn’t know anyone more than a few minutes before we pulled anchor; I didn’t even know what bunk I had to sleep in that first night. I wouldn’t consider myself a seasoned sailor; I have the basic training and boating experience one gets while living in the bay area. On deck, it became a small goal of mine to make it to the topgallant yard; it’s not the highest point on the ship, but it’s the second highest – and you’re hanging out at the end of a metal beam to boot. I did it, once, and I’m happy to say that it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it to be. Like skydiving, it’s the imagination that’s always the scariest part. Riding out swells and bow surges, while peering down onto the deck below – while trying to heave up the sail and lock it in – was more tiring than anything; I would have preferred my first time aloft to have been in a harbor, truth be told. I will leave the Kaisei with a newly-found respect for those who make the seas their home and their office. Meanwhile, however, I will be continuing my travels south, mainly by land.

    Armed with my passport, a microphone, a camera, and a smile, I feel ready to take on the world once more. Having a few extra languages under my belt, French and Spanish, I feel I am about as well-trained as one could hope to be for a trip of this sort; my background in engineering, plus a variety of other handy skills, helps too. All together, I have over three dozen interviews collected so far; with plans to gather more as I go. Eventually, I will edit these interviews into a podcast. The outlet for that which I have and have yet to acquire – in interviews and images – is through my website,

    What happens when I’m finished is the second-most popular question I’m asked; I’ll let you ponder the first one (hint: I have it posted on my FAQ page). There are many possibilities; ideas for which I am gathering and developing along the way. Ben Franklin had it right – small acts by many people out-weigh great efforts by few people. My goal is to get as many people to make small changes, in order to make a greater difference in our shared world. What those changes may be are many. How many people get involved, well, one can only wait and see. But, the world is a small place and you’ve got to start somewhere, sometime, with something in mind – even if it is only to open yourself to the possibilities.

    Water, Whales, and Garbage

    Posted By on August 16, 2009

    Capturing the Escaping Marine Debris

    Capturing the Escaping Marine Debris

    Big, medium, and small – mostly miniscule – pieces of trash float about the Pacific Gyre. While on “prop patrol,” the deck hands (including myself) stand vigil, night and day, to avoid driving our propellor through a patch of derelict fishing nets and ropes. . . not a good thing, when you’re over 1,000 miles from land.

    Of course, if worse came to worse, we have sails – this is a tall-masted ship, after all, and her crew is more seasoned by the day. I’ve only made it up to the second of three levels up the foremast. . . the Top Gallant Yard eludes me! I’ll post pictures, from the crow’s nest, when I have the time. The GPS coordinates of our travels should prove interesting too. . . again, when I get around to it – after landfall.

    One of many cool things seen/experienced so far included a whale sighting yesterday morning. A smallish whale, about two miles away, leaped out of the water and made a spectacular water show when it landed – 6 times!! Of course, as soon as the video cameras came out – the whale went peacefully away. It was great seeing it in its neighborhood, as we passed through.

    For updates about our ship’s voyage and science, head to