>One great/awful thing about having experience in public relations is being able to pitch stories to the media that will inevitably be embaressing. Witness case in point from Denver Post columnist Bill Johnson from today’s paper…makes me sound somewhat cute, but mostly crazy. 😉
Johnson: She turns trash talk to action
By Bill JohnsonDenver Post Columnist
Posted: 04/20/2009 12:30:00 AM MDT
Updated: 04/20/2009 12:51:58 AM MDT
Rebecca Farrar admits the large black bag she has carried everywhere since Wednesday is getting a bit full and more than a little ripe.
She does not care. Once it finally fills, no matter the smell, she insists she will just strap on another one.
The woman everyone calls Becky is carrying around her trash. It is her own little nod to Earth Day, the annual April 22 event designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment.
Carrying one’s own trash, Farrar acknowledges, “is kind of weird and it sounds so stupid, but it’s my way of making people more aware of what we throw out and what can be recycled.”
She is 26 years old, a former public-relations specialist with the city of Colorado Springs who says she quit just ahead of looming layoffs.
She is not, she says, some die-hard environmental crackpot. It is just that when you are out of work and living in your old room in your parents’ home, these are the kinds of things that pop into your head.
“I’d plant a tree or attend a community event on previous Earth Days,” Farrar said. “This year, I wanted to do something meaningful for myself, not shove anything down anyone’s throat.”
It is not easy carrying around your trash. She started by carrying a reusable cup for Starbucks and the like, and a plastic food container she hands to waitresses for leftovers.
If it isn’t recyclable, it goes into the 2-foot-by-1-foot bag she keeps strapped across one shoulder. At the bottom is mostly tissues, paper towels, plastic bags, calendar pages and Post-It notes.
“I didn’t realize I wrote so many notes to remind myself of things,” she says. And what most people don’t realize, she adds, is that most tissues and paper towels, unless they specifically say so, are not recyclable. She now carries a cloth hand towel.
It’s the plastic that gets to her. Everything, she realized, is wrapped in it, from burritos and lettuce to tubes of toothpaste.
When at home and not carrying the bag, Farrar puts her trash in little piles before transferring it to the bag — “I am slow to learn my own lesson.”
Her friends, she says, think she has lost it. “Some think (the bag) smells. I don’t. Well, not totally.”
Her parents have been more kind, even taking her to dinner in those first days of carrying the bag.
“Some of the servers that night actually applauded when I gave them my food container,” Farrar said. “Do you know most carryout containers are made of plastic?”
Most people have no idea of what she is doing. “It is not like I am carrying a sign around my neck,” she says.
“The major thing for me is because we throw things in the trash and it is out of sight, it doesn’t mean they’re not there, that it’s gone.
“You walk around with your trash, and it’s kind of amazing to see how much you produce. Everyone is talking about recycling, but the key is reducing. We’ve never focused on that.”
She opens a mint. She stares at the wrapper. It goes in the rapidly filling bag.
“I’m worried,” Farrar finally admits. “Carrying around two bags, now that will be a little strange.”
Bill Johnson writes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach him at 303-954-2763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.