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Ruth Riegelhaupt-Herzig hates the environment


It's been a long time since I have been so amazingly attacked on the Internet, I had forgotten what it's like to be attacked by a troll. Today's troll, Ruth Riegelhaupt-Herzig is brought to you today by Yahoo Groups and the Sunnyvale Cafe mailing list.

Recently, Sunnyvale passed a law requiring retailers charge 10 cents for every plastic bag used by consumers, with the intent to eventually phase out plastic bags in the city. This is a fantastic law, as plastic bags contribute to significant waste and have a bad environmental impact.

Well, Ruth thinks this is a horrible idea. It's so bad that she is going to choose to shop outside of Sunnyvale. How dare the city force her to save money and help the environment!

However, that's not the issue for Ruth. For Ruth, the problem is the recycle bins (which are 30+ gallons big) are too small

I am VERY frustrated that my garbage bin is at least 3 times the size of the recycling bins when one considers the wasted space in the middle of the bins. They toss everything together so why are we wasting this space? I'm sure those bins are also more expensive as well. How about getting us some big recycling bins (and recycling more items through our service, like, say Plastic Bags).

I have to throw recyclable items into garbage almost every week (when I don't take the trouble to bring them to a friend's house). Instead of focusing so much effort on this bag issue and making it more inconvenient for people to shop in Sunnyvale, how about we put a bit of energy into making recycling MORE convenient for Sunnyvale residents?'s been bugging me for years how tiny our recycling is while Saratoga has huge recycling bins and tiny garbage bins and they seem to work just fine for the residents.

This rather tells me that Ruth produces a LOT of trash.

She is also very mis-informed. The bins keep paper and plastics/can recycling separate when they are dumped into the dumptruck. She didn't bother to check, but Tom set her straight:

The truck that stops at my house does not dump everything together, although it certainly looks that way when viewed from a distance. Papers from the green side dump into one section of the truck and containers from the blue side dump into a different section.

As for the bin size, I pay the extra "lazy fee" for the biggest trash bin so I don't have to drag it out to the curb every week. My recycle bin fills up faster than the huge trash bin (and it's almost always the container side that fills up first) but I don't think I would want it to get any bigger.

My original response was this, which went to her directly, even though I meant to send it to the whole group:

> How about getting us some big recycling bins (and recycling more
> items through our service, like, say Plastic Bags).

My recycling container is as big as my trash can.  My neighbor's 
recycling can is twice as big as his trash can (he opted for the 
smaller trash can).  Where in Sunnyvale are you that you have a 
different size?
this is a valid question, because I thought Sunnyvale had one
plan, not several different ones

> I have to throw recyclable items into garbage almost every week

How about reducing what you buy that requires recycling?

Do you drink sodas?  How about water or tea instead?

Do you eat packaged foods?  How about more vegetables instead? 
We live in a wonderful climate, you can even grow your own.  How
about fewer processed foods?  Do you have a family?  Cooking with
the whole family can be a great experience.
this is my excitement for gardening, and my attempt to share
it with her

We put out our garbage and recycling every 2-3 weeks, so I guess
overflowing recycling or trash weekly surprises me a bit.
which is true, we don't have much trash or recycling, and I 
would love to understand how other households operate such that 
they have more

> (when I don't take the trouble to bring them to a friend's house).

This is great!  I'm glad you put this much effort into recycling.
Many people don't.

> Instead of focusing so much effort on this bag issue and making
> it more inconvenient for people to shop in Sunnyvale,

Is it really that inconvenient to bring your own bag?  I've been
bringing my own bags for a decade now, and I don't find it difficult.
What part is problematic for you?  Remembering to bring them?  Store
them in your car.  Having them in the first place?  Use the plastic
bags you already have.  I'll happily bring over a couple of my extra
ones for you, or buy you new ones if used bothers you.

It really isn't that inconvenient.  That people would prefer to 
contribute to the destruction of their environment in such a small 
way, to the helping it with one very very tiny step in the (eventual) 
banning of plastic bags is somewhat puzzling to me.

Reduce first.  There's a reason reduce is first.  ;)


Well, my email in an attempt to be helpful resulted in a non-stop barrage of emails from Ruth. She clearly wanted to express her frustration with having to carry her own bags. I do so enjoy when people fill up my inbox with rants. So, here are my second, third, and fourth hate mails, courtesy of Ruth (recall, that, as with my first hate mail, I haven't actually read these - once someone starts non-stop emails, without your responding at all, you know they aren't going to be good, so meh, you can read them for me):

I actually do bring my own bags most of the my own choice (as I've already said). I don't like the city government dictating what I should do when they're not making recycling easy as it is.

My car is full of equipment that I use for the community service work I do. I have limited space to carry bags. I do carry what I can but every so often I don't have enough or I forget to put them back in my car after unloading, etc. I just won't shop in a city that doesn't do its own part.

This is only one of MANY different issues I have with Sunnyvale. I also have an issue with the Neighborhood Preservations group who will fine folks because a neighbor (who isn't even a neighbor) complains about the condition of a property where NO accidents have occurred while on the sidewalk in front of the same home there have been THREE...count them...THREE accidents as a result of a sidewalk coming up due to an overgrown tree.

Is it your place to judge how much recycling I have? I'm in the midst of a major cleanup, I run several youth groups out of my you don't even know how many people are in my family vs. yours. Who are you to judge? Really?

We all have our own ways to contribute. Yours is apparently to berate.


I can't wait to move out of Sunnyvale and into Saratoga where they have their heads on straight. business also provides a great deal to be recycled and I have no choice as to its packaging. One of the ways I reuse the paper bags which I will no longer get is to put out additional recycling. I guess those items will just need to go in the garbage now...since Sunnyvale has made THAT a better option for me in so many ways.

Wow! Really! You know absolutely nothing about me or my life and you feel it's your place to judge. Amazing!

and, again, you know NOTHING about me. I don't drink soda nor do I serve it to others. I'm also vegetarian (I can't even have animal broth or fat) so I cook everything from scratch. I can't even have anything with corn in it because my daughter is allergic, so pre-made foods are pretty much out for our combined food limitations.

You know NOTHING about me...and your assumptions just prove that.

BTW...most of my neighbors are also overflowing into paper bags, so my issue is not alone.

To Ruth, when you google for your name and read this, please know that Sunnyvale can't wait for you to move out either. If you are incapable of offering solutions to problems instead of just complaining, well, please just leave already.

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