Friday, June 1, 2007

A doctor's office made of paper and glass

Yesterday, I had an appointment at my doctor's office to have some trigger point injections. This is, basically, when they inject a local anesthetic into my aching muscle knots. It helps take the edge off of some of my back and hip pain for a couple of weeks, and I thought this would be a good idea prior to our upcoming summer road trip and camping adventure. I'm hoping a little lidocaine in my ass will make sitting in the car for hours and lying on the ground all night comfortable.

I tried to keep track of the amount of material my appointment used. The clinic has a pretty sophisticated computer system, and most of my file goes directly onto a computer, but I still left an impressive trail of paper, glass, and plastic.

There is a piece of paper and pen where I signed in when I arrived. Not sure of the point of this, since there is always someone at the desk to take my name and note my arrival on the computer before I'm done writing it.

I got a big and a little receipt for my copay (one the office receipt and one the card receipt--not sure using cards rather than cash to pay for things really reduces the paper trail yet).

I got a piece of paper on a clipboard to fill out a satisfaction survey, in which I was asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 such statements as, "The doctor makes me feel important," but not, for example, whether the office has done a good or bad job remembering to get correct insurance authorization prior to my monthly office visits and occasional procedures (they haven't, but I sure do feel like a queen when I leave the exam room).

Then they asked me to sign an electronic consent form for the procedure with a stylus on a computer screen.

Once in the exam room, I used a paper gown (though this was only because they had run out of cloth), the paper on the exam table, and all the materials involved in the injection, which included a big fat scary needle, some cotton for swabbing the injection sites, and a few glass bottles of medication, plus the plastic wrappers everything came in.

I got a prescription form, and I know all prescriptions at that office must be photocopied onto a full size sheet of paper for their records.

I also grabbed a paper cup of water while I was waiting to make my next appointment, then got a small card to use as a reminder of my next appointment time.

I used my car to drive across town for the appointment, and to drive to the pharmacy afterward. And the pharmacy gave me a bottle with medication inside, a small paper bag for the bottle, a piece of paper with prescription information stapled to the bag, and a receipt.

The garbage generated from this one visit probably equals the amount in the tortilla chip bag holding my kitchen garbage right now, though it smells better than molding taco night plate scraps.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Creative reuse of the day: The empty box as mask

My son is a natural born creative reuser. He found this beer box, put it on his head, and started walking carefully around the house. I suggested adding the eye holes as a safety feature, and there you have it--hours of fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Extreme cleaning

A recent Everest expedition by Japanese and Nepalese climbers had an atypical goal: collect the garbage and abandoned gear of past summit-seekers. The group apparently collected 1,000 pounds worth of cast-off junk on this trip, adding to the 8.8 metric tons collected on a previous series of clean-up climbs.

I'm always saddened by the volume of trash I encounter on a day at the beach or an afternoon hike, if not surprised. I've been around enough to realize that not all people are willing to carry a bottle around until they find a recycling bin, that some people aren't even willing to wait for a garbage can, and don't see a problem with tossing out their bottles, plastic bags, cans, candy wrappers, televisions, and mildewed couches wherever it is most convenient for them. And even if careless litterbugs didn't exist, stuff has a way of getting itself discarded. I've had a piece of paper or plastic pulled away from me by the wind. I've stupidly lost a pair of sunglasses to an ocean wave. I've generally tried to chase down (or dive after) my litter, but I've lost a flyaway bag or two on a day when my back hurt, or when my child was crying or running the other direction. Sometimes circumstances supercede a desire to tread lightly. Multiply my accidents by a few hundred or million and you have one massive Earth day clean-up job.

So although I hope that respect for nature is a prerequisite for a successful climb, it's not surprising that mounds of garbage would be left behind even by a few hundred responsible Everest climbers each faced with the individual challenges that accompany that impressive feat. Everest's tons of trash remind us that mere human presence always has consequences.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Products that make me sad: Designer trash bags

Check out these tastefully designed garbage bags, via Gizmodo. Sigh.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Worn Again

Interesting shoe and accessories line made from 99% creatively reused materials such as seatbelts and leather salvaged from old cars.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Our new garbage can

We've downsized our garbage can.

We were using a 5 gallon plastic container, but most of what we throw away is food that can't be composted. By the time the can is even half full the food is rotting.

So, we're using this little bathroom-sized can. Bonus feature: we can use surplus plastic bags as garbage bags, including large chip bags and other food bags that might not have another reuse because they are icky inside and hard to wash out.

I would guess we'll be using two or three bags per week. Stay tuned for photos of our ever-growing reusables collection.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Easter eggs dyes

Here's a great article suggesting ways to dye easter eggs using materials you (probably) already have around the house. A great way to use or reuse some food items creatively, and avoid buying a box of premade dyes and the packaging that goes along with them.