Holy Dumpster diver

Hey kids, the Eco-Warrior Princess has a story for you …

SN&R buys a building, wants to make it green and pays Sena: Eco-Warrior Princess to write a weekly column about it.

Good afternoon, boys and girls. Welcome to the show!

Boy, are you in for a treat, kids! On today’s episode of Rapping with the Eco-Warrior Princess, we’ll discuss two green-building topics: salvaging and cradle to cradle. Let’s begin with a story. Y’all want to hear a story?


Heck yes, you do!

I once had an anarchist for a friend. Her name was Monica. One summer, Monica hopped a freight train in California, and then another and another, until she made it all the way across the country and joined a grassroots, anti-coal-mining campaign in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. They lived off the clothes on their backs and the food they stole, because when you’re gunning for the revolution, you can’t be bothered with going to Safeway. This was when Monica learned to Dumpster dive.


When she returned to the hippie Oregon town where we lived, she shared her newfound Dumpster-diving skill, teaching us how to dive for food, clothing and furniture. With a little love or a touch of paint, she’d find a way to reuse anything.

“A lot of our economy is based on production and consumption of over-marketed products that are not necessary for survival,” Monica told me one starry evening. “There is a lot of ‘waste’ in our society. But the ‘waste’ is useful and functional.”

Monica couldn’t be here today, because she’s on a campaign to save old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest from the tyranny of ol’ King George II. But her story shows us how we can reuse our trash, rather than shipping it off to the dump.

Remember, kids: It takes energy to create building materials and to down-cycle them into recycled materials. Reusing items in their original form saves this energy. In terms of green building, LEED values the use of salvaged or reclaimed products, such as brick, heavy timber, doors, furniture and partitions, and awards credits for projects that use salvaged items for at least 5 percent of total materials.

Tell your parents to swing on by Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Sacramento—where this show is filmed—to find building supplies and help society move away from a throw-away culture to a sustainable one.

Applause. Lots of applause. Endless applause …

I know, I know, it’s total eco-fabulousity!

Now, please join me in giving a big round of applause to my first guest, a green-building visionary, named one of Time magazine’s Heroes for the Planet in 1999. Here he is, world-renowned architect William McDonough, who, along with German chemist Michael Braungart, introduced the idea of cradle to cradle!

(What? He turned down our invitation to appear? But who wouldn’t want to be on cable-access television?)

Confusion. Uncomfortable murmuring. Wheezing.

Uh, change of plans, kids. Anyway, cradle to cradle is an eco-concept that promotes waste-free production and zero-impact products. Why is this important? Well, the point is to abolish the throw-away mentality and urge companies to stop inventing single-purpose chemicals with unknown health and environmental effects.

Cradle to cradle involves the use of heavy metals, reuse potential of materials (recycling or composting), efficient or renewable energy use, storm water or wastewater discharge during manufacturing and toxicity of materials. Cradle to cradle products contain technical nutrients that can reused or recycled without quality loss or biological nutrients that can be composted or consumed.

Blank stares.

Yes, kids, it’s confusing. How about this example: The book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is not printed on paper from trees, but rather on synthetic “paper” made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers. The book can be used, recycled and used again without losing material quality. This is known as a “cradle to cradle cycle.”

Is that not the most awesome thing you have ever heard?!

Lots of whooping and cheering. Arsenio Hall jumps up out of nowhere and pumps his fist.

As you know, kids, I also moonlight at SN&R, whose owners are undergoing a green renovation of a building on Del Paso Boulevard. That is just so darn inspirational! SN&R will use reclaimed building supplies from the ReStore and keep an eye out for companies with a cradle to cradle philosophy.

Standing applause. Kids throwing roses onto the stage.

OK, here’s a quick joke: How many environmentalists does it take to change a CFL light bulb?

Only one. But it takes nine to figure out how in the heck to find an e-waste recycler to properly dispose of its hazardous materials! Haha!

Awkward silence.

What, you love me one second, hate me the next? I deserve a goddamn Daytime Emmy for putting up with you ungrateful brats!


Oh, keep your [censored] mouths shut.

Announcer: “Rapping with the Eco-Warrior Princess will return after this word from our sponsors … ”