Thursday, October 23, 2008

Portrait of Tomas

Resident of West Odessa, Texas

I'm getting to be an hold hand at asking strangers if I can take their picture. I'm even branching out in other languages. Maybe it wasn't correct Spanish, but I was understood when I asked to take Tomas' photo. He smiled when I showed him his picture on the camera. I told him, "Tu eres guapo," which I hoped to mean, You are handsome.

Warning: I want to say something sort of political here. I don't understand why in the United States we don't at least have deposits on aluminum and/or glass. They are a terrible eyesore here in Texas and they don't have to be. Remember back in the old days when a found Coca Cola bottle meant a trip to the store to buy bubble gum? And, even more importantly, remember how rare it was to find one?

All I can say is thank heaven for retired people like Tomas who pick up aluminum cans for pocket money. Otherwise we'd see a lot more trash here than we already do.

How about this for a great idea, one I experienced in Malmö, Sweden. Upon entering a grocery store (market) there is a foyer that has this huge wall. On the wall are all sizes of holes marked with various recyclable item names. In the appropriate hole you deposit your glass, aluminum, and different grades of plastic right there. When you are done the machine gives you a receipt for whatever amount your recyclables came to by weight, redeemable as payment for your purchases in the grocery store! Very clever.

And while I'm at it, here's another keen idea from those smart Swedes. For things like old TVs, sofas, computers, and so on there is a place you can go that has appropriately-marked metal buildings. In those metal buildings are shelves to put your stuff on. The good thing is it is all separated, ready for pickup, and if you see something in one you need, you can take it. That, after all, is the best kind of recycling: reusing.

What about where you live? Any great ideas that your community has implemented to encourage the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?


If you want to be shocked and inspired, view the video "The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard." I promise it's quite entertaining and that you'll never look at your latest I-must-have-it the same way again.


Bev said...

Tomas has a very characterful face. He has some sort of Sombrerro on, or sunhat at least, but I suppose you need them where you live. Maybe I am thinking Sombrerro because of yesterday's posting....

We still have old fashioned recycling round here, the Rag and Bone man, who comes to collect unwanted items. Recycling like this has gone on for centuries. I will put a photo on my blog in case anyone is interested.

Bobbie said...

I love your portraits, Debi. You have a special knack for them.

The closest thing I use is where you find your city and list something you want to give away or get something someone else has to offer. I've given away a lot of perfectly good stuff because I no longer need it. It makes me feel goooood to know that it is wanted and used again.

Jomamma said...

We have HUGE recycling bins that all paper, glass, plastic and steel and aluminum is put in and picked up twice a month. But not many use it. You know if we had bottle deposits people would be taking those bottles out of the bins.

I carry my own bags, mesh or canvas to the stores, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says "Plastic blows...byo bag." People ask me why and I say evidently you've never been to West Texas where you can gauge your driving distance to a Wal-mart by how many plastic bags are stuck to the Mesquite trees. I also try to boycott styrofoam and if you want a little TMI, I use a Diva Cup... google it. I've been a Greenie since I was in Odessa High School back in 1974!

Irene said...

I like it very much when you do portraits of strangers, Debi. I wish you would do more of them in your town so we could get a good idea of all the people who live there. I know it isn't easy to walk up to strangers and take their portrait, though. Maybe you should have a business card printed that you could hand out by way of introduction. Listen to me talk, as if it is that easy.

nelda said...

I remember those bottles quite well - we had to separate them and put them in the correct cases before the Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper or 7-Up truck came by again!
Now I dutifully tote newspapers (and other paper), clear plastic bottles, and plastic bags to the recycle bins here in Midland. We don't have an outlet for glass. If I bought anything in aluminum cans I would try to find someone that wanted them rather than throw them away or put in the recycle bin. Not much, but I feel I am doing a little bit of good when I drop that stuff in the bins.

nelda said...

PS BTW, love the picture of Tomas. A classic.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Congrats on getting such a great portrait photo. He has lovely eyes. Are you doing the 100 strangers project?

Good on you for drawing attention to the recycling issue! Hope it makes others think twice before they throw things away!

Muse said...

i wish i could photograph strangers, i'm so self concious about aiming the camera with people noticing but i SO love candid shots of people. Do they ever ask why you are photographing them?