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    Considering Waste: Tomatoes & Ice Bucket Challenges

    Iice bucket challengen our family, it was infamous.

    Before my birth, my rebellious brothers decided to smash a bucket full of tomatoes onto the driveway.

    One by one, my Dad’s summer labor, pride and joy, were smashed onto a slab of asphalt.

    Every. Single. Ripe. Tomato.

    Let’s rewind.

    The Tomato Incident

    My dad has maintained a garden my entire life, plus a long time before I was alive. Every summer, weighing his largest tomato, he’d call my grandfather beaming to humblebrag about the size, as each of them competed for the summer’s best gardening skills.

    And the pride was undeniable. He’d cut the largest slice of tomato known to man, only to add pepper, a little mayo, maybe cheese and layer it in between two pathetically thin bread slices to create a Tomato sandwich. Not a BLT, mind you… pretty much all T. Luckily, I’ve finally caught on to this taste sensation, still using my Dad’s sweetest tomatoes from the garden.

    So when my Dad discovered my brothers’ so-called prank, I’m pretty sure he looked like this:

    angry gif

    Over my lifetime, the infamous ‘tomato smashing’ story has been retold again and again. And compared with how much food is thrown out by Americans, it was a menial amount.

    But it was still waste. As any gardeners can attest, factors like weather, seasons and predators can transform a garden from successful to slumping. So the fruits and veggies picked symbolize a triumphant moment of hard work and dedication. Wasting perfectly good resources is never a wise decision.

    ALS Bucket Challenge

    I don’t have to explain the #ALSIceBucketChallenge unless you’ve been under a rock. Along with it, critics have created buzz in the advocacy and environmental community about wasting a precious resource when our country has severe drought problems.

    After Pounce DeLeon was challenged by his friend Wonton, I bit the bullet in lieu of my cat’s lack of sacrifice and terrible attempt. With my ever-present green conscious, I chose a smaller ‘bucket’ for the stunt and donated that digital check to ALS. To even the score, I skipped washing my hair a day to shorten my shower time.

    So what’s the impact of all that ice & water being dumped over one’s head?

    Grist has a great explanation to environmentalists questioning the ALS Ice challenge: Buckets are an average of 5 gallons; Americans waste 80 to 100 gallons of water per day.

    An average 5 minute shower uses 10-20 gallons of water alone. The Bellagio fountains waste 12 million gallons of water each year in the desert. And fracking a well takes 2 to 8 MILLION gallons of water, with a percentage left contaminated.


    The Bottom Line About Waste

    Regardless of whether it’s food, McMansions, disposable water bottles, energy or tomatoes, Americans have an ugly reputation for wasting to excess. Even after we recycle our cans and throw away straw and flatwares, we hold no qualms about shipping our waste to India.

    Should we care about water waste and the CA drought? YES. Seriously. It affects CA agriculture, almonds, beer, produce, skiing and drinking water, and costs $2.2 billion.

    Although it’s never good to waste resources, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge created a unique idea, that translated into viral campaign to raise funds, helping families. The ALS shouldn’t be the sole reason many people become aware of the critical water state of California.

    Concerned about water from the challenge but still want to participate? Reuse water from an existing resource or collect the water for your plants after.

    Rather than complaining about the ice buckets, we need to challenge ourselves as a whole. What can we waste less of as a society? Start with your home: check for any leaks, take a food inventory and buy less stuff. Check your water footprint and assess how you can reduce your impact.

    And definitely don’t throw any tomatoes on your Dad’s driveway. I have at least two grown men to vouch for that advice, too.


    Photo: Nate Riggs

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    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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