Last week I lived in a city for 5 days and it wasn't that bad. I was able to attend the annual co-op conference, also known as the CCMA (Consumer Cooperative Management Association) conference. This was the 3rd CCMA that I have attended, and this year it was right in my home city, Philadephia. While I grew up just outside of the city, I spent much time there as a kid... but this was a different experience for me.
But this time, I had a new experience.
First off, I'd like to say that while I still don't understand how every single person can pretend that they don't smell sewage when walking down a city street... Philly has definitely cleaned up it's act. Of course (to be fair) I stayed in the marriott downtown, so if there is going to be a nice area of the city, I was in it.
The day before every CCMA, there are always local tours offered. I won't lie, I struggled with the idea of taking a tour in a place that I thought I knew pretty well... but I'm glad in the end that I took the mural tour around the city.
But let's really get down to it, shall we?
It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be to avoid disposable products... but I will say that Philly has a LONG way to go when it comes to recycling.
The hotel that we were in straight up SUCKED at recycling. I'm not going to alter this corporate name, because everyone should know that the Marriott in downtown Philadelphia does not have one single recycling bin anywhere in their gigantic building. After talking to a few employees, I found out that they do recycle in the kitchen, so when I had a glass bottle one day, I found someone who worked in the kitchen and asked them to take it behind the scenes and recycle it for me. I later found a manger of the hotel and had a talk with her, letting her know how disappointing it was that the hotel didn't extend their recycling services to their thousands of guests. She was receptive, but she was also doing her job by taking my complaint... so who knows.
But this is something that we can all do! When you can't find a recycling bin, find someone and tell them that you are disappointed in their business for not being more responsible. It's not much, but it is something.
Downtown Philly certainly isn't the best place to seek out organic and/or natural meals, but we spent some time in the Reading Terminal Market, since it happened to be right next to our hotel. It was ok but of course there was disposable stuff everywhere. However, people were receptive (after they were confused) about me using my own containers. I carried 5 important things on me while int he city:
- stainless steel water bottle full of water (I found spring water dispensers in the conference rooms to refill it)
- my insulated stainless steel bottle that was perfect for keeping the fresh juices and smoothies cold that I bought at the market
- a small stainless steel lunch box type thing, about the size to fit a large sandwich in... I used this the most
- metal utensils
- cloth napkin
To be fair, I did see at least 4 recycling bins inside the market, so that made me feel better about going there!
And so, I had a great visit to Philly despite the fact that no one seems to recycle. It was good to be on foot without a car for 4 days, even if my feet got mad at the lack of earth to walk on. And it was nice to be away and get re-energized with the all of the co-op people who are thinking like me.
To learn a little more about the conference that I went to, check out this NPR show. Scroll to the bottom and you can listen to it.