The Great DC Bag Experiment


Starting January 1 of this year (2010) everybody in the district will be coughing up 5 cents to get a plastic or paper bag from every place that sells food or alcohol. That’s right we’ve reached the point where American laziness is preventing progress and we are switching to forceful laws (aka progressive taxation).

It’s really a test of environmental will which I’m calling the ‘great DC bag experiment‘.  The revenue from the bag tax will go towards cleaning up the Anacostia River. A laudable cause. Even a progressive one. In this day/age when we have given up on our rivers the DC City Council is making a play.

Dig a little deeper and you can find an interesting swirl of facts. Like this being a tax on the poor, avoiding the rich who already own reusable bags. But, the website shows that over 460,000 reusable bags will be given out. With less that 600,000 people in the district that covers 76% of all residents. Assuming the reusable bags can get to the less fortunate in DC, this is almost a non-issue. There appears to be some enlightened leadership in our DC government (gasp!).

Then we can talk about laziness. Or, better yet, this whole reusable bag thing is an issue of the well off. I mean who among the poor class really cares about spending an extra 2-20$ on a bamboo or recycled plastic bag. I guess it’s time for them to start caring. Their excuse is lack of money. What about the rest of us. Laziness? Habit? Apathy?

Time and time again we are finding that Americans just don’t care. They have given up on their rivers, beaches, bays, and parks. The ease of disposable goods is way to alluring, compared to keeping that reusable bag in ur trunk. Most governments around the country and world are finding themselves with one option. Lawmaking. Force people to develop new habits through taxation, fines, and built-in surcharges.

Take that libertarians. Guess its not possible to be a libertarian and an environmentalist.

The ironic part here is that I’m betting DC residents will now start carrying a reusable bag around to avoid that 5 cent charge. Ironic in that pollution, waste, landfills, global warming, dirty rivers, ruined bays – matter zilch to people. But, charge them a nickel and they act like the world is on fire.

The last thing to point out here is that each place you shop at is now saving money. They need to buy less bags and can add to their profit margins. You can bet they won’t be passing that savings onto us, the enlightened consumer. Better/worse yet the new law pays them one cent for doing nothing except participating. Two cents for offering you a nickel rebate when u bring in a reusable bag. Hmmm…you think that is fair?

All right well I expect to see some grumbling and complaining as our “Skip the Bag, Save the River” law comes into effect. You can bet I’ll be watching for that and to see how this great experiment plays out.

DC Mayor’s Conservation Corps

As summer comes to a close and school begins anew I wanted to take some time to highlight something special in DC. The Mayor’s Conservation Corps.

This is a city sponsored effort to provide district youth with social employment. They get paid $7.25/hour and participate in programs like graffiti removal, cleaning parks, community projects, outreach, and more.

It is really a fantastic program for our fair city, which is in need of some beautification. Especially the non-NorthWest affluent areas. Then our kids, oh gosh, have you seen some of these youngsters. If so you would appreciate any sort of mentoring and productive leadership directed their way.

So, it surprises me that so many folks are decrying this effort. Nearly every article, and I mean every article except one or two, knock down this effort. They focus on the mistakes, goofiness, and sometimes rebellion that occurs. Which begs the question, have you ever hung out with the youth?

That is exactly how they are. Even the good ones will act tough and cool. But beneath it all is a sincere desire to help, find guidance, and grow as people. Maybe your ‘tough’ articles would be better if you actually looked beneath the surface and learned about our youth.

Even worse, the city’s world renowned newspaper, the Washington Post, has not published one article about this. Not one. This is embarrassing for them since they have time to write about our Metro failings and crime issues.

As a former middle school teacher I understand this problem better than most. These children are in desperate need of leadership and guidance, not more oppression and problems. I once saw Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools, speak on this topic. It nearly brought me, her, and everyone else to tears as she told a story of her mentoring program. One that links up a child with an adult. It is very successful and always in need of more help.

The story she told was of one child who said he would do whatever it took to participate. He offered to ride his bike every morning and evening clear across the city. He begged and cried to be a part. Then when given the opportunity he actually did bike all those miles.

So, I challenge this city and its residents to look beneath the cover of this book. Learn about these kids and talk to them. Support these initiatives and maybe even get involved. They are the future of this city.

Finally, I want to salute the DDOE, District Dept of the Environment, and their team for doing a great, unheralded job with this years Conservation Corps.

Launch Party at Tattoo in Washington DC

A Clean Life Launch Party

Party Flier

The charity event turned out to be a real party!

Thanks for everyone for coming including our over 100 guests, Kate Michael (kstreetkate), Robyn Mincher (washington post express), Sarah Cannon (videographer), and all of our fantastic sponsors.



The charity event was held on May 21, 2009 at Tattoo Bar in Washington DC in a partnership with Amy Senger of 1X57. Doors opened at 7pm with free drinks from our sponsors, Absolut and Fuze, for the first hour. Stay later and the bar was open again at 10pm for free Absolut Fuze drinks.

At the door we had have raffle prizes and champagne. You can find Tattoo Bar in downtown DC:

  • 1413 K St NW, Washington DC, 20005 (google maps)
  • Metro: one block away from McPherson Sq (serves blue, orange lines)
  • Parking: street parking is available but limited


Our sponsors were fantastic! We had donations of excellent raffle prizes. Our top sponsors, listed below, contributed at our  “Green” ($100) and “Super Green” ($250) levels.


There are so many talented artists out there! Thanks to Mark Routt, Christiane Routt, Jenna McAlister, & Tom Hedrick. Your donations and new friendships mean a lot.

Guest List & Sponsors

  1. Amy Senger
  2. Steven Mandzik
  3. John-Michael Scott
  4. Kirby Plessas
  5. Matthew Paige
  6. Michelle Giluso
  7. Katie Tobin
  8. Andrea Baker
  9. Garrett Strzok
  10. Matt Nahlik
  11. Lauren Lee
  12. Michelle Hilaire
  13. Amanda Sena
  14. Chris Rasmussen
  15. Spencer Mandzik
  16. Susan Mandzik
  17. Kelly Ann Collins
  18. Cathryn Sitterding
  19. Jenson Daniel
  20. Daniel Cramer
  21. Andrea Van Dell
  22. Jamie Hess
  23. Joanna Baden-Mayer
  24. Harold Bennett
  25. Matt Rogers
  26. Joanna Alexis
  27. Sean Wohltman
  28. Catherine Barker
  29. Shana Glickfield
  30. Maxine Teller
  31. Georgie English
  32. Marni Cohen
  33. Reese Gardner
  34. Anna Tant
  35. Moe Alrob
  36. Michael Romeo
  37. Fletcher Gill
  38. Michael Mossoba
  39. Erin Uyttewaal
  40. Kendall Richardson
  41. Mark Jacobson
  42. Jennifer Eyrich
  43. Lena Lee
  44. Dan Flatla
  45. Nydia Clayton
  46. Ron Mecredy
  47. Javan Sher
  48. Stevens C. Berry
  49. Jay Faires
  50. John Lauttamus
  51. Mark Klupt
  52. Raymond Embry
  53. Kate Michael
  54. Eric Burka
  55. Kristin Burka
  56. Mandeep Mehram
  57. Justin Franks
  58. Makeda Saggau-Sackey
  59. Lewis Shepherd
  60. Loren Herrington Teague
  61. Adam Korobow
  62. Mark Drapeau
  63. Teka Thomas
  64. Blair Milligan
  65. Melissa Vallejo
  66. Christiane Routt
  67. Mark Routt
  68. Jenna McAlister
  69. Sean Dennehy
  70. Tom Hedrick
  71. Joshua Marcuse
  72. Becca Thompson
  73. Margot Miller
  74. Alexandra Pryor
  75. Pia Carla
  76. Sana Pervaiz
  77. Andrea Leigh
  78. Julie Eaton
  79. Joanna Lee
  80. Mathew L. Hebert
  81. John Burns
  82. Jason Moore
  83. Ellen Grantham
  84. Yudha Permana
  85. Viq Hussain
  86. Britta Lindgren
  87. Matias Bernstein
  88. Benjamin Maiorino
  89. Samira Kristina Azzam
  90. Trena Elise Woods
  91. David Fraley
  92. Alexandra Robinson
  93. Andrew Reese
  94. Joanna Hatzis
  95. Jelena Eaj
  96. Tara Lewis
  97. Caitlin Rundle
  98. Lauren Massad
  99. Christina Holden
  100. Lisa Rambo
  101. Abeer Abdallah
  102. Erika Miller

And more, but my wrist is tired! 🙂

Washington DC Recycling Study

Thx much to Amy Senger for snagging this shaggy bit

Good news. Washington DC you are recycling newspaper, cardboard, and bottles at higher than the national rate.

Bad news. Washington DC you only recycle 18% of your trash when 36% of your trash is recyclable. This is costing the district an extra $250k and unduly burdening the environment.

2008 Residential Waste Report

Those were the findings of the latest Recycling report from the Department of Public Works for DC. The report (linked below) closely examined the trash stream to get some hard numbers. This included examining collections of trash in all 8 wards in DC.

The most striking number in the report and its conclusion was that 1 in 5 items thrown out could have been recycled (22%). The straight costs of trash are $60/ton for trash and $25/ton for recycling. If each resident were to recycle a little bit more then perhaps we could get closer to our potential 36% recycling rate mentioned above.

2008 Residential Waste Sort Report (pdf)

What You can Throw in the Blue Bin

Here is a list of items you can recycle pulled from the DPW recycling site:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Aluminum foil and aluminum pie pans
  • Aluminum food and beverage containers
  • Books (including paperbacks, textbooks, and hardbacks)
  • Brown paper bags (Kraft)
  • Cardboard and paperboard boxes (including cereal boxes without liners)
  • Computer printouts
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes
  • Ferrous and bimetal food and beverage containers
  • Glass containers such as jars and bottles
  • Junk mail
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Narrow-neck plastic containers (other than for motor oil) that carry plastic resin identification codes 1 through 7
  • Newspapers (including all inserts)
  • Non-metallic wrapping paper
  • Office paper (including typing, fax, copy, letterhead, and NCR) and envelopes
  • Plastic bags, e.g., grocery bags, newspaper bags, and shopping bags. Please put your plastic bags into one plastic bag then place it in your recycling container. We will accept more than one bag of plastic bags.
  • Rigid plastics including plastic milk/soda crates, plastic buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, plastic totes, plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic flower pots, plastic drinking cups/glasses, plastic 5-gallon water bottles, plastic pallets, plastic toys, and empty plastic garbage/recycling bins
  • Telephone books
  • Wide-mouth containers such as peanut butter, margarine/butter tubs, yogurt, cottage, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped topping, and prescription (remove the identification label) and over-the-counter medicine bottles. (note that the lids and caps do not need to be removed.) Please do not include Styrofoam meat trays, lunch “clamshells” or foam packaging, such as “peanuts.”

Commercial Recycling

Whoa, you made it this far…thx for being our best readers.

Did you know that fully 70% of the waste produced in Washington DC comes from commercial business?

I didn’t either. The district throws out 800,000 tons of trash and business are the largest wasters. Thankfully the District passed a law in 1988 requiring all business to do some recycling.

Unfortunately, the rest is up to business people. The business is required to have cans on-site and required to put only correct items in those cans. With fines for not doing so…but will people actually do so?

They should. Each business has to pay directly for trash pick-up (so do HOA’s) and recycling costs less than normal trash. It is economical and fulfilling to do so. All the reasons are there…

I could not find any reports examining the actual recycling rate in commercial locations, just this helpful recycling guide:

Commercial Recycling Guide (pdf)

dc flag

Springtime at the Dupont Farmers Market


The Dupont Farmers Market is the premier market in Washington D.C.

It is open “year round, rain or shine” and it has 2 rows of stalls, around 10-20 hawkers (depending on the season). Also depending on the season are the goods available. With each visit you can find the same reliable farmers and a rotating sprinkling of others, each bringing you the latest seasonal fare.

And there is nothing like rain or shine, especially in DC. This city is swampland and pretty murky stuff at that (the HBO mini-series John Adams, part 6, shows the city being un-swamped). Meaning that we can have all sorts of great and horrible weather. It is fantastic to have a market open all year round and available through the conditions.

Today was a perfect spring day so I ventured down to the market with Fuzzles in tow. The location is very convenient for peds/bikers since it is right next to Dupont Circle (20th between Mass and Q) and the Dupont metro. Drivers can find parking but you will have to head a few blocks away to the residentials (try 21st and O).

Man was the place packed. Everything had a line and there were even street singers and a jewelry vendor. I had forgotten what spring/summer was like at the market. For the past 6 months it was just us locavores and crunchies.

Street View of Dupont Market
Street View of Dupont Market

The regulars were there. My favorite Keswick Creamery where I bought my cheese and yogurt. The mushroom lady, seafood and fish toughins, the two bread shops, and a few seasonal vegetable farmers.

However, being Spring and good weather, about 10 new shops had popped in. The seasonal fare this early in Spring were a lot of greens and kale, apples, and beets. There was also a strong showing of dairy products, which I love.

Even the Fresh Farm folks were there (organizers of the market) making mini salads for anyone who came by.

A few things the market could add to make it a primo destination are a fun place to park the animals and a compost bin. Right now most pups are tied up behind the stalls or to a tree. It would be nice to have a friendly dog zone, where we could leash our pups and let them socialize whilst we vegetate.

The compost bin should be standard. I’m sure dealing with all the trash produced at the market is a problem, so why not use a compost bin to help the load (I sent on an inquiry to the Fresh Farms folks to see if I can take this one on).

Well to end it all, I brought home some swedish greens, lesher and cheddar cheese, fresh milk, and some yogurt.

Pups and I hoofed it home a little tired after some good walking. Where I prepared a salad with the greens, cheese, herbs, and chile’s. Then sat down with some iced coffee (using the fresh milk) to write this post.

my take at the market
my take at the market
my salad and coffee from the market
...turned into salad and coffee