Month: June 2016

79 Days to Receive My Blue Cart

See how this escapade started here: Part 1 and Part 2

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Have heard nothing and received nothing so far. Maybe I will call again this week…

If I am a resident who actually is concerned and wants to recycle, I can only imagine how quickly this experience would turn someone off from getting a blue cart who is not that concerned.

Friday, June 17th, 2016

(cricket noises)

I decided to call again, saying this was the third time I had inquired about where my cart is. I was told that the ward superintendent  was emailed about the issue on June 9th, but nothing had happened since then. Again they made a note that I had checked in about it, and they said they would try one more time to get in touch with the ward superintendent.

I am not crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

This morning, I was riding my bike back from my workout when lo and behold, there was my blue cart sitting on the curb next to the garbage cans (it is garbage day)! Hallelujah!


It was a miracle! I quickly run upstairs and emptied my recycling bin into my blue cart. What a feeling! Now that this endeavor is finally over, I put some numbers together to make this fancy infographic about my experience.

how long did this take-



All in all, this took just too long. The average person is not going to bother with this if that is how long it takes.

#NP_DC and the NPS

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with anything environmentally/sustainably related.

June 21, 2016

Bob Vogel, Regional Director
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington D.C. 20242

Dear Bob Vogel,

My name is Marguerite and I am writing to you in regards to November Project DC workouts taking place in NPS jurisdictions. I am going to be upfront with you, I no longer live in DC and I no longer work out with November Project DC. Instead, I moved myself and my November Project family over to Chicago, but that does not mean I am no longer a part of November Project DC.

I worked out with the DC tribe for over a year as a newcomer to DC and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities NPDC brought me. There is nothing in the world like waking up when it is still dark out and climbing the Lincoln Memorial steps until the sun peaks up over the Washington Monument and reflecting pool. Absolutely nothing.

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NPDC brought me to new places and new NPS spots all over the district that I would have never dreamed I would run to or work out at. I learned new things and I saw new places, all because of NPDC.

As I continue to workout with the Chicago tribe on Wednesday mornings at 6:30 AM on the shores of Lake Michigan, I cannot help but miss running the stairs at meet Abe at the top. I brag to others that our workouts were on those iconic steps.

Many people can say they visited the Lincoln Memorial, but not many can say they spent countless Wednesday mornings there in every type of weather imaginable to sweat and climb those stairs. Ice, rain, snow, extreme humidity, and we were there.

I have much love for November Project DC and I also have much respect for the National Park Service and the importance of the places you protect and we use to workout.

When the time comes for you to sort this out with NPDC, I hope you both can come to terms that benefit you both.



NP 12-12-14NP 2-19-14NP 7-16-14 1NP 7-23-14 1

No Butts About It: 350 Cigarette Butts Later

Yesterday, I participated in another beach clean up at North Avenue Beach. This event was put on by Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach Program and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly to help make our beaches barefoot friendly.

And were they barefoot friendly? No. 

The amount of broken glass we picked up was startling. Even more startling was the excessive amount of cigarette butts I picked up.

Over 350 cigarette butts picked up by a 2 person team in just over an hour!

While my partner tallied and picked up other types of litter, I focused solely on collecting cigarette butts. I just continued counting and counting as I added more butts to the growing pile in my hand (I was wearing gloves, do not fear).

When we counted up our tally marks to reveal that we had over 300 cigarette butts in our trash bag, I was in shock! There were dozens of other teams too who may have picked up just as many.

In 2015, more than 52,600 cigarette butts were picked up at Chicago beaches, representing 27 percent of total litter found according to Alliance for Great Lakes data.

I just get really sad when I see people using our beaches (and our Earth) as an ashtray.

Luckily, the Alliance is putting a fun spin on properly disposing of cigarette butts.

Read more about their project here.

Bamboo Toothbrush: Kind of Like Brushing With a Popsicle Stick

Recently, I made the switch to bamboo toothbrush from Brush with Bamboo. I bought a 4 pack on brushwithbambooAmazon for $13.99.

Every component of the toothbrush is plant based. The handle is bio-degradable, the bristles are plant-based and can be recycled, and the packaging is compostable as well.

I was in need of a new toothbrush anyway, so once I got them, I added my plastic one to the cleaning bucket.

When I first started with the bamboo toothbrush, all I kept thinking was,

“I feel like I am brushing my teeth with a popsicle stick…”

brushwithbamboo2After awhile that feeling went away. When you have been brushing your teeth with a plastic toothbrush your whole life, it is going to be a bit of a difference at first. Now it is fine.

Many other zero-wasters have blogged about their experience using bamboo toothbrushes and their benefits. Check them out!


*All images are from

Beach Cleanup: So Many Straws!

This past week, I attended two beach clean up events. They definitely needed some cleaning if you saw my post about Chicago’s beaches over Memorial Day weekend.

The first clean up was the Alliance for the Great Lakes My Beach is Your Beach Adopt-a-Beach Clean Up at Oak Street Beach. Unfortunately, it was pouring most of the event, but there were still a decent amount of people there! The premise of this event was to pick up a piece of trash and replace it with a flag. In the end, we had a great visual of how much trash was out there.



While the Chicago Park District grooms the beaches on a daily basis, tiny pieces of litter are still left behind. This was mainly what we were picking up.

Do not worry, we picked up all the flags afterward!

This morning was Adopt-a-Beach for World Environment Day at Montrose Beach. It was put on by Alliance for the Great Lakes, Goose Island Beer Company, and Delta Institute.

We broke up into groups with gloves, trash bags, a tally sheet. I was in charge of my group’s tally sheet which broke up trash into common categories like food wrappers, small plastic pieces, and personal hygiene products.

Top Things We Picked Up:

  • straws
  • bottle caps (metal & plastic)
  • unidentified plastic pieces
  • cigarette butts
  • wrappers
  • glass

Really Random Things We Picked Up:

  • a slap bracelet
  • a condom
  • half a pair of sunglasses

All in all, we helped pick up 546 pounds of trash! That is amazing! When you looked out at the beach before we started, you wouldn’t have said, wow it is dirty! Everything we picked up was really tiny, and the fact that we had enough tiny pieces to equal 546 pounds is insane.

C3 Week 4: Waste

Obviously, I was very interested in this class topic since it covered waste and the point of this blog is to not be so wasteful!

First of all, why should we care about waste?

  • it does not go “away”
  • litter is ugly
  • sanitation
  • water quality is diminished
  • climate change due to more methane from landfills
  • these are just a few reasons!

waste pyramid

We have all learned about the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but there are more important steps that need to be included as well. The conversation we usually have starts with recycle, when we really should be starting at the top with refuse. If we refuse something, it cannot become waste in the first place. Zero-wasters are very familiar with this part of the pyramid! So refuse those plastic bags and straws, for they will never go away!

Chicago throws away 7.3 million tons of trash annually.

In 2009, the city conducted a waste characterization study, where our trash was sorted into 81 different categories.

The top three items by weight were:

  1. Paper (29.5%)
  2. Organics (29%)
  3. Plastic (12.5%)

All of these things can be recycled or composted, not sent to a landfill!

We have a big issue with recycling in this city if you have not noticed from my posts on my experience of trying to get a recycling cart.

The biggest issues we discussed in class are access, expense, contamination, and education.


As I discussed here, residential buildings with 4 units or less have access to the city recycling service. Larger, multi-unit buildings, on the other hand, use a private hauler. So depending on what type of building you live in, your recycling rules may be different.


We do not pay to recycle our materials, unlike the tipping fee required to dump one ton of trash into a landfill. So the City is actually saving money when every ton of recyclables does not go into a landfill. Last year, the City saved $4.5 million.

In Illinois, It is cheap to dump into a landfill compared to other states. New York, for instance, is running out of landfill space and thus charges much more per ton.


In addition to the list of what should be recycled, there are also a lot of items that do not belong in our blue carts. Here is where you can recycle common things that are not allowed:


There are different messages for different audiences, especially if they use city recycling or not. Language is also an issue, but for the most part, there is a lack of staff to help implement. Maybe they need to hire someone like me!

Additional Recycling Resources: