Monday, January 27, 2014

Jan 27 (Day 27) - Signs of spring (sort of), thoughts on recycling

Since I have been starting with biking recently, tonight I'll switch it up a bit and start with the birds tonight. There were the usual song and white-throated sparrows feeding on the roadside where the plows have uncovered the grass, and there were the ubiquitous woodpeckers that manage to ride out the winter at this latitude. However, I was a bit shocked to see an Eastern phoebe (year bird #122) on the roadside as I rode south out of Baltimore. As a resident of Massachusetts, I associate Eastern phoebe with the approach of spring as they are some of the first migrants to return to New England. There is absolutely NOTHING that suggests that spring is anywhere to be seen at this juncture of my journey. However, I must remember that I am several hundred miles south of my usual New England haunts, and Eastern phoebe normally winters in this area. I'll take this sighting as an encouraging sign that I am actually making good distance south! Here are a few shots of the species from my stock.

*Click for full sized images*

Cycling-wise, today amazingly pleasant. The weather around Baltimore topped at around 40 degrees, and I was actually able to bike without gloves for the first time! I know not to get excited though as a fresh blast of cold air is due in tomorrow morning. Nevertheless, it was very encouraging and made for a really enjoyable ride south through the city. I covered 37 miles today. It was a very easy ride, and it provided a needed shorter day after 2 tougher days. 

The Inner harbor and National Aquarium, Baltimore

As I was unable to find a birder or cyclist with whom I could stay in this area, I planned to stay at the the Baltimore Airport Best Western. This was a wise decision as it sets me up for a nice ride through DC and into Alexandria, Virginia for tomorrow night. I'm certainly going to sleep well tonight! The best part of staying here might be the free breakfast. I plan on stuffing myself with waffles before I head out tomorrow.

Lastly, I broke down and had a fast food lunch today. Most days I have either have sandwiches, peanuts, or just simply skip lunch entirely. I was relaxing after my meal when something occurred to me; Everything on my tray could be recycled, and none of it would be. 

This reminded me of something that happened to me this summer in Canada. My girlfriend and I were driving back from an amazing vacation in Newfoundland, and we landed at a fast food restaurant along the road. We ordered and ate just like we would here in The States. However, when we were done, a young woman appeared and collected our trays. I insisted that she not waste her time as we could certainly handle the task. She said that she actually needed to sort it into trash, recycle, and compost! Coming from The States where we throw everything away, I found this amazingly refreshing. As I sat relaxing after my meal today, I wondered if such a policy would ever gain traction here in The States. It doesn't seem like it would take that much effort to implement a recycling policy at American fast food establishments, and considering the amount of trash those eateries now generate, it seems as though it would recapture a tremendous amount of reusable materials. I would certainly give my business to restaurant chains that made an effort to limit the amount of trash they generate. If enough consumers start to think this way, maybe things will change in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dorian and everyone with Environmental Concerns. I have lived on both the East Coast and the West Coast USA and lots of places in between. While living in Washington DC in the late 1990s I was surprised to see how many DC residents were involved with Recycling -- including many restaurant owners. Many DC restaurants had "recycling bins" for each type of waste to go into.

    While there are many things people can do to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, here is a Web Site where people can try to Unite with others:

    The 8th largest Recycling-Related Group on this site is actually located in Washington DC. Thanks Dorian for writing about this issue!

    Living Green DC/MD/VA
    Washington, DC

    LIVING GREEN DC/MD/VA works to send a message to the community and influence small changes in everyday actions that can have a big impact on our world. As a group we look for ways to make small changes in the way we live, enjoying the support and friendship of other like-minded people. This meetup can only grow if lots of members become Assistant Organizers and provide fun and creative ways to socialize, learn, spread the word, volunteer, network, do fun things. Suggestions are seeing films with environmental themes, dining where organic and locally purchased produce is promoted, visiting farmers markets and socializing afterwards, volunteering for Earth Day activities, meeting in cafes to discuss books and articles, etc.. Whether it's a movie screening or eating a meal with freinds at an environmentally friendly restaurant, you are sure to make an impact, so join the group and volunteer.
    Meetup topics:
    Environment · Farmers Market · Alternative Energy · Recycling

    Citizens in The State of Washington are also very active about Environmental Concerns. People can find out more here: