We change something in our lives. Can you predict what this change will result in? For this self intervention, we don’t throw anything away for a week. Afterwards, please sort it according to what you will do with it and consider the best place to put everything. Take a picture of it and post it
Monday, Jan 22. I started Wednesday after class, and Neil (age 9) must have rolled his eyes because dad’s doing it again. Robin said, “not in the house this time.” So it’s out in the breeze way. How many times have I forgotten I’m doing this and run back to pull something out of the trash. I always have “boundary issues”: when I cook for my family, I put all the trash/recyclables/compostables in my “intervention bag”, but I don’t make anyone else do this. In fact, I split an orange with Neil and told him to put the peels in the intervention bag, but he smiled and said that it was his orange so he put them in the compost bucket. Two more days to go.
Below this Line is for Fall 2017, Appropriate Technology, Development
I am very fortunate to be from an big city where use of unnecessary items with a negative impact on the environment are highly regulated (plastic, styrofoam etc.). I have practiced composting, recycling and overall awareness of the waste I produce from a very young age. I have even made an effort to incorporate these values into the lives of my family and friends. My family still composts and very rarely purchases plastic and other non recyclable bottles and containers. Our society is so separated from the unbelievable amount of waste we produce as we only ever see the impact through pictures and in writing; we are privileged and take advantage of this system, which is tragic. I focused my week on compost and zero use of plastic and styrofoam containers, utilizing glass and paper products instead. Although I like to think I am already aware of the benefits of waste awareness, this week was eye opening and a true learning experience. I found myself reusing containers and making a very conscious effort to only use what I absolutely needed. I am posting this intervention late because I was keen on implementing a compost system into my entrepreneurial minded building downtown which is full of very motivated individuals who pride themselves on environmental awareness. I brought up the concept in our bi-weekly meeting and have now created a team fro waste control in our building as well as a proposal to the school to offer a small bin for each of the studio apartments to start to practice composting with. I am very excited to see this through and can thank this intervention for the inspiration to do so. Since initiating my intervention, I have continued to act as if the task of keeping a close eye on my waste is far from over. The first week, however, I produced 10 fruit scraps (apple cores, banana peels, orange peels etc.), 5 glass beer bottles, 2 cardboard boxes, 2 paper plates, veggie scraps and leftovers (bell pepper, lettuce, broccoli), 3 egg shells, 5 avocado skins and a lot of coffee grounds.
I started keeping track of my trash on October 3rd through the 8th. I traveled to Milwaukee for a conference the 4th-8th and forgot to continue once I returned. Since I was planning to travel, I had decided to take pictures of what I produced but then compost/recycle/throw them away as I went. I don’t think TSA would appreciate my side bag full of trash. I was successful except I ended up writing a lot of it down instead of taking pictures because people kept collecting my trash for me.
During my one day here I produced:
1 plastic take out container
2 tamale wrappings
During my time in Milwaukee I produced:
2 small cardboard pizza boxes,
2 plastic water bottles
4 waxed cardboard coffee cups
2 orange peels
half a plate of pasta
1 glass growler
4 aluminum cans
3 small pamphlets/booklets
4 pieces of gum and wrappers
I didn’t see one recycling bin the entire time I was in Milwaukee. I started piling up everyone’s recyclables in our apartment and filled 2 large garbage bags, which I learned would all go in the landfill. What I noticed is that I do in fact produce a lot of waste, even though I don’t normally feel like I do because most my waste is recyclable. It’s easy to think that just because I put all recyclables together that they will get repurposed but a lot of cities in the US don’t offer city wide recycling service and even our own (SLO) has limited ability.
I’ve recently started thinking about all that goes into making whatever I am using. There is waste along a product’s entire life, including the packaging and fuel used to transport it. It would be fascinating, but challenging to have a system that gives each product a consumption price for how much waste is produced along all its stages of production and consumption.
I started my self intervention on October 10th after forgetting for eight days in a row. One of the main things I noticed was that I began to make decisions based on how much trash I would end up creating. These weren’t decisions that made things very inconvenient, but they did have a great effect on the amount of trash I generated. I realized how many containers my groceries come in, such as peanut butter jars, yogurt containers and many others can serve as tupperware. It now seems weird that we go out of our way to buy plastic containers in the form of tupperware unnecessarily without food in them. Things like ziplock bags I would reuse ziplock bags for many days, and napkins and paper towels I eliminated all together. I very rarely buy prepared food to go, but the one time I did it added an excessive amount of trash to my collection, and this was did not even include the original packaging. I also noticed the unnecessary food waste I create by buying excessive fruits or other things that I fail to eat before the go bad, and by forgetting leftover lunches in my backpack that could be eaten if they had been refrigerated. The amount of waste generated by one person in a week is a lot larger than I expected and its hard to imagine a whole population doing the same. I did find that there was very little trash that wasn’t either compostable or recyclable, so if everyone were to do these small things consistently it could have a large impact. My conclusion from this intervention is that with very little effort a person can recycle, compost, or all together eliminate much of the waste they contribute.
Before I started this self-intervention activity I made sure I went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, something I like to do but don’t always make it to. I knew that by going to the farmer’s market I would have less packaging and less waste. Collecting trash at my home was easy I set aside a couple brown paper bags to hold my trash separate from my roommates. I didn’t have too much besides paper towels, cans, jars, cardboard boxes and other containers from finishing the food that was in them. I use a water bottle and bring lunch to school in tupperware so I did not create a lot of waste there but I did buy coffee almost everyday and I only remembered to hold onto the cup all day a couple times. The food waste at my home was probably the most noticeable, such as the banana peels or any other food waste started attracting flies and smelling after the third or fourth day. I can imagine how if you lived in a place where you can put your waste in a bucket and it is taken away every week it would start to really pile up and smell bad.
I don’t always go to the farmer’s market and when I don’t I go to Trader Joe’s. My groceries from Trader Joe’s have a lot more packaging and waste so if I shopped there I would have collected a lot more trash. Overall it was a very eye opening experience.
Saba Belay Kassa
I started October 9th, so a week late (a little bit of sickness mixed with forgetfulness prompted that decision). Initially, I thought I was going to excel at this assignment, waterbottle (check), coffee mug (check), bring food with me to school (check). And I did, during the first couple of days, I had random alarms on my phone that would remind me that I had to collect my trash, and that I needed to bring my white paper bag with me everywhere I went. However, as the week progressed, I found myself forgetting to hold on to trash when I was at home, or out with friends, and accidentally throwing out/ composting trash in the communal bins. Needless to say, not all of my trash is represented in the picture below.
Overall, I was most shocked with how much trash I create individually, and the excessive packaging that come with single-use items. A gallon of milk, last me about a week-two weeks but the plastic container remains on earth more or less forever, if I buy a gallon of milk every week or every two weeks how many plastic containers do I account for? Now this doesn’t just extend to milk containers, but also to most food items bought at grocery stores. And I am not the only person buying milk, either. In fact, milk is an American breakfast staple especially if you’re an avid cereal, and/or oatmeal consumer. Now, if milk is a staple of American breakfast and most households consume milk on a daily basis, then why is it in a single use container? Glass or other easier reusable/compostable containers must be a better way to go. Perhaps, even cheaper for all parties involved? How could we skip, the packaging processes and get milk directly to consumers at grocery stores? Perhaps, a system where milk is poured into a container you bring from home or are given from the store (in fact I am pretty sure this exist in some parts of the world). I am not sure exactly about how it would work (how/where the milk is contained at the grocery store), but it is frightening to think about how much waste is created on single-use items, such as milk, that are a (for most people) a daily part of their consumption. This needs to change!!
Other areas, where I was shocked to find the amount of waste I contributed to include – eating out, you get a compostable food container, way too many paper towels (that usually end up being used once or twice then thrown out), plastic knives/forks, and then a receipt, which prints automatically even if you ask for an e-receipt, the receipt is still printed just thrown out by the cashier. Now, it seems to me that it is a cultural problem – wastefulness. It is embedded in all parts of our system, even if we (as consumers) try to avoid it, just existing in America is wasteful, the supermarkets, the 24/hrs stores, the car culture – how many students, let’s say on Ramona Dr, are driving to class everyday at 8 am/9 am/10 am etc. individually? It is absurd, really. We are six people in my house, four of them have cars all drive to class, individually. We need a shift in values, and better communication. Perhaps, Cal Poly or San Luis Obispo could start with providing better and more frequent public transportation services.
Other areas, where I noticed I create a lot of waste (or more than necessary) is taking of my makeup at night, using several cotton-balls where a towel could suffice, and food expiring, I need to get better at eating my food before it goes old. Perhaps, even buying less produce at a time.
I followed my trash consumption from Oct 5-12th by keeping a list of items that I wasn’t able to preserve and by throwing the rest in a box in my garage. Throughout the week, I focused on returning as much of my food scraps as possible to our house compost, learning a lot about the process as a result. I hadn’t previously known that paper towels/ napkins were able to be composted and that about doubled the volume in my bin. I read up that for a compost to be efficient, it is important to have a balance of brown and green debris — presumably for the combination of carbon and nitrogen that each releases. So when the gardeners came to my backyard this week, I was able to combine about half of my green waste bin with tree scraps, and the other half with food. I learned to mix in the leaves and break down the twigs as much as possible to better facilitate its decomposition. Apart from the eggshells, veggies, coffee, etc. that I was able to compost, I was faced with the areas of waste I produced that could not be salvaged. The amount of unnecessary packaging that I accumulated was upsetting, from a styrofoam package for corn to a box around a plastic lining around a disposable razor. It was difficult to observe at one time every single-use cup, straw, utensil, bag, and package that I consumed and then typically cast off. The experiment opened my eyes to what a luxury being able to separate myself from my waste is, and what my life would look like should I be faced to confront it on a regular basis.. if rather than being taken to a dump my trash was confined to the limits of my backyard or garage. I made more of a conscious effort to buy glass products this week as a substitute, and I now have a few jars that I will be able to reuse. I found myself contemplating ethical questions, like leaving the lights on for our dog when the room was not in use.. leaving the lights on in general for when my roommate gets home. A seemingly thoughtful gesture, but at what cost. Noticed the unnecessary junk mail that comes to the house and I have no idea how to unsubscribe to. The lengths of my showers and the efficiency of my dishwashing. I used a full roll of paper-towels, a few sheets of aluminum foil, and several plastic sandwich bags which all could have been avoided. This intervention opened my eyes to the limited availability of biodegradable “Take Home” package options, for which I hope there is an increasing demand and awareness. It encouraged me to try packing food from home as much as possible and will attempt this next week to keep a pair of utensils, a cup, and tupperware with me while on campus.
From October 2nd-9th, I attempted to collect and save my waste. I thought that this was a difficult intervention in that I sometimes forgot to collect the trash I produced but I did the best I could. I was raised to be not very wasteful but nevertheless, I think I still am pretty wasteful. Most of the of the trash I collected were small items like tissues, small withered Ziploc bags, napkins, etc. The small things were the hardest for me to keep track of, mainly because I didn’t want to carry around a dirty tissue around my backpack all day knowing I had easy access to a trashcan on campus. Food was also a component that made up my trash pile. I collected numerous avocado shells and seeds along with banana peels. Pretty much anything that had relatively inedible exterior or interior was discarded. Participating in this intervention made me realize how much I take accessibility of these items for granted, which is a potential reason to how easy it is to simply throw something away. If I had my own place and more control of what I could do with my trash, I would definitely get into composing my food and try to harvest some food. I think that I could maybe use towels instead of napkins and wash them on a weekly basis to lessen the amount of paper napkin type waste I produce. Overall, this intervention made me very aware of the type of waste I was producing and how I do take the easy accessibility of items for granted. This was a good eye opener.
I spent the week of October 2nd to 9th saving all of my waste. I kept my plastic, recyclables, and food waste in separate bags in the corner of my kitchen for the duration of the week. I found that it was rather easy to keep my waste with me while I was on campus for the day, as I would otherwise have to go out of my way to find a garbage can, and I didn’t use much during the day anyways. However, at home it was a lot more difficult to be conscious of what I used and to make sure I kept it. Things like napkins, tissues, bandaids etc. were the hardest for me to remember to keep. I realized that I throw a lot of things away with ease and little thought, and I take things like our consistent trash collection for granted. I also realized that I produce trash that I don’t even see, such as the waste that is produced when I purchase food from a restaurant. The largest volume of trash came from food waste and plastic packaging. It didn’t help that my 21st birthday was in the middle of this week, as I ended up having to save trash from presents and quite a few bottles (not complaining). Overall, this week made me think about ways to lessen the trash that I use, and also made me see how much unavoidable yet unnecessary waste is produced by consuming simple things. I plan on making more efforts to reuse plastic bags, buy things in bulk to avoid the excessive plastics used in packaging, lessen my online purchases, and start a composting bin for my household.
Let me start off by saying, I thought I was already pretty good about not being incredibly wasteful and keeping up with recycling…but after doing this intervention, I unfortunately had proof against that. Jeremiah and I did this together and collectively, we had quite a bit of trash, recycling, and compost. I noticed I wanted to start using dishes for small things such as snacks, just to not feel as guilty. I started reusing certain things, like plastic baggies for a couple of days. We also eat quite a bit of eggs, avocados, and fruit which made the compost a smelly treat that the cat liked to occasionally try and get into. My only question is what do we do with the compost now? We talked to Pete today, and he said that it can’t be dry to use, and Jeremiah has a mint plant, so we will have to invest more time into the research of how to utilize the benefits of compost, but for now, it will go on the curb with the rest of the recycling and the trash.
From October 3rd to October 10th, I collected my trash in a separate bin than my roommates’ trash. I placed a brown paper trader joes bag next to the trash can and began filling it. What I found was that I quickly began to make different decisions knowing I was going to have to collect my trash! I stopped putting my toast on a paper towel in the morning and started to use a plate instead. I stopped buying coffee on campus and started bringing a tumbler that I could refill for free at Front Porch. I started using reusable tupperwares instead of plastic sandwich bags for bringing snacks to campus. Making these small changes in my daily lifestyle was easy and saved a lot of material from being thrown away! All that I did was prioritize lessening my trash over the convenience that paper towels and plasitic bags bring. At the end of the week, mostly all of my trash was from cardboard packaging of food. There were a few non-recyclable bags from snacks, but mainly bottles and boxes were the main source of trash, as well as compostable fruit and veggie rinds/cores! This self intervention was very interesting and taught me that if I place my attention on some habit or routine, it becomes easy to change it for the better.
I am currently a week and a few days into the “Don’t Throw Away Challange” and my studio apartment is becoming pretty gross. I’m doing my best to organize my wastes into recylcing, compost and general trash. The Compost needs to be managed A LOT because of the smells and bugs is attracts. A lot of the paper waste is scattered around the room, making it look a lot more unorganized than it really is. I had to develope a concious to not allow myself to throw away things, and since it’s habit for me, it proved much more difficult than I anticipated. I would catch myself wanting to throw away/recycle wrappers and packaging of products. The build up of things I don’t use more than once is incredible and frankly a little disgusting. It’s consuming a lot more space than I feel comfortable with my trash occupying.
My first self intervention was saving and sorting one weeks worth of trash from October 2-9th, 2017. From the beginning I planned to keep my food waste separate from recyclables and other trash.The intervention has made me realize the amount of packaging Ive had to throw away because its single use. Since SLO houses were given food waste bins, Ive been inspired to use it, so separating food and other compost-ables wasnt a big change. The intervention made me more motivated to actually separate my waste instead of just throwing everything into my houses communal waste bin. Most of my trash was aluminum cans, coffee filters, kale stems, and random food packaging. The cans and paper went into the recycling bin. Food waste into the green bin. And the trash Ive saved until I can figure out the best place for it. Overall this intervention has changed the way I shop and more aware of the volume of waste I throw away.There were a couple times I accidentally threw out things around the house (random trash, old lemon on the table, crumbs on the stove). From now on I hope to buy more bulk items instead of pre-packaged, to cut back on soda and beer, and to buy a french press instead of drip coffee to cut back on coffee filters
I started the “Don’t Throw Away Challenge” on Sunday October 8th and completed it on the 15th and I found it to be quite an eye-opening experience. The items I accumulated the most were tissues (because I am sick), various receipts, Yerba Mate cans and bottles, daily disposable contact lense containers, various leftover foods, and plastic or paperboard food packaging. Having the ability to reflect on all the trash at once made me think that I really should do a better job at recycling and composting. When given an easy option to recycle I always do, but there were many things I subconsciously threw away before thinking about the fact that it could be recycled. Additionally, my roommates and I don’t have any sort of composting system in place, so much of our unwanted fruits and veggies just go in the trash when they could easily be repurposed. This challenge showed me that with very little effort I could easily make changes to my daily routine that could reduce my footprint on this planet.
– Taco Bell refuse (I shared this meal with my girlfriend, and therefore did not include half of the meal’s trash)
– Aluminum cans (I consumed many beers and la croix throughout the week, however I immediately place these in my recycling that I collect to take to the recycling center to get my aluminum deposit back)
– Paper grocery bag (In cabinet for reuse)
– Paper and other school supply scraps from thesis project
– Toilet paper
– Paper cup at café (I tossed this at the restaurant as I left)
– Milk carton (Still drinking)
This exercise was very interesting as I can’t usually see how much trash I produce so clearly. I know that my house produces a ton of trash, but it is much easier for me to not take responsibility, not seeing my portion beyond the individual pieces I contribute. My trash collected throughout the week consisted largely of food containers and wrappers. There were a few paper napkins tossed in the mix, however plastics made up a bulk of the trash. The plastics marked with the recycle logo were placed in the recycling, while the others were placed in the trash. I only flossed once this week, because I saw that as an easy way to reduce my waste. Also, there is one piece of gum pictured. Typically, I chew much more gum, but this week I greatly reduced because I don’t think there’s a good disposal method for gum and felt guilty for indulging. Overall, I think there is an easy solution to greatly reduce my trash load. Simply by eating out less, and shopping for items with less packaging at the grocery store, the amount of trash I produce would be drastically less.
This self-intervention made me realize that I can be responsible for a large amount of waste in a short time. I wasn’t even able to collect and account for every piece of trash due to either my forgetfulness of the challenge or the cleanliness of certain items such as food waste. Most of my food waste went unaccounted for such as egg shells and raw chicken packaging. The stuff I did collect was mostly paper or cardboard products. There were a lot of wrappers, cardboard boxes, and paper towels, some of which could be recycled, and I don’t usually think twice about it. I have also realized that it is also easier to recycle at establishments with different waste bins, but living in a house it is hard to keep different trash cans and regulate what goes in them.It surprises how much waste I produce and how much must be going to landfills all across America. It is also crazy to think that me and my roommates pay each month for garbage services to take our massive amount of trash to landfills, when most of it could probably be reused or recycled. As eye-opening as this self-intervention was, I don’t see how I can drastically change my everyday life to generate less waste. Most things we use or buy come in wrappers and bags etc. and something has to change in our society to reduce the amount of waste we produce as a country. (This picture below, as I mentioned earlier doesn’t represent all of my trash, probably about 50%)
After completing the “Don’t Throw Anything Away” challenge, I was truly able to see how much waste I really do create in a week. In other words, I simply felt as though the amount would be much less than what I ended up by the end of the experiment; I was definitely proven wrong. I have decided to look into the areas of waste production that many people rarely if ever look into. The first thing that struck me was the amount of seemingly extra packaging I ended up with. For example, I happened to buy a small coffee grinder at Target during the course of the project and it struck me how many different materials were used to keep a relatively small product in the box. Styrofoam, plastic bagging, and cardboard were all included. It led me to wonder if much of this could be eliminated and how much of a positive effect more responsible packaging could have on the environment and overall human waste creation. I also seemed to have used way too many extra paper towels when cleaning simple spills or wiping things off. Before this project, I was into the habit of yanking off a way-too-large amount of paper towels to soak up a simple spill. Once I saw the sheer amount of paper waste I was creating, I cut back midway through the project and was able to get the same thing done with less. I feel as though if this small but action was done by more people a positive difference could be made. Another object I have often overlooked that also creates a massive amount of waste are my disposable contact cases! I had no idea they would actually make such an impact on how much waste I create. Their small size likely makes many people forget that they can amount to quite a bit over a week and a half, let alone a month. Although I wear glasses a couple times a week, this experience has shown me that I should wear them more, not only does it save money but not mention also our earth. Overall, most of my waste seemed to fall into either the plastic of paper variety, hopefully most of which can be recycled. However, there was definitely food waste which I had never accounted for, and as a result never thought about composting. But, nonetheless, there was still waste that will probably be doomed to a landfill for the next 1000 years or so, but it has shown me there are definitely ways to avoid using products with it. This project also helped me come to a conclusion that composting can definitely be an option for me, as I should do something beneficial with food waste if I can; all I need to do is invest some time into starting the process!
(Fall 2017- UNIV 391)When I began to collect my trash I immediately became more aware of what I throw away on a daily basis. When I would use the bathroom I would not use paper towels and I would air dry my hands to not use the paper towels. When I was at home and I made a mess, I would use a sponge and cloth towel to clean the mess. The main trash that I used was takeout boxes for the many meals I did not cook at home this past week. And paper towels that I used to clean that I did not want to use the sponge and reusable towel with. The meals that I did cook at home were typically wrapped in plastic or in the glass jar seen in the photo. After this week I realized how much trash I do use on a daily basis and how it is better to not use as much waste.
I just returned from the Solar Energy Conference in Denver. I thought to practice this radical responsible disposal while on the road… but decided against it because it would have been a considerable burden carrying things around with me while on the road and trying to impress people with my professionalism. I reflected that this kind of “necessity” is what prevents most people from behaving responsibly… “I’d ride a bike to work, but I have to arrive fresh and clean to be respected in office. So, I can’t bicycle to work”… for instance. So, you see me throwing away straight up compostables. In fact, I found no place where we stayed or at the conference where they composted. Should I have brought them back to SLO? What’s the carbon footprint of flying the compost back to SLO… not to mention the interaction with TSA? OK, I’ll start today, Saturday Oct. 14.
|Throwing away good compost in Denver is painful|
Below this line is for Winter 2017, PSC320: Energy, Society, and the Environment
I studied my trash consumption from Oct 6th to Oct 12th. During this week i lived my normal routine, I create very little plastic waste because I eat only at my house and always use bowls or plates that I wash. My main source of garbage is the food waste I create, most of this waste is compostable. This food consists of a morning smoothie with bananas and strawberries. Both of these fruits are compostable and are put in a bowl that is collected and composted. My other waste came from a multiple different sources throughout the week. I typically eat cereal in the morning out of a bowl, so I generate only water waste cleaning the bowl in my sink. For lunch and dinner I cook a meal that I have sized over the ears living on my own. I generate a couple boxes pasta boxes per week and the plastic bag from my plastic chicken every other week. I generate no waste during my time at CalPoly apart from 2-3 papers that I recycle per week. All of the water I drink on campus is through my Hydroflask. I take all of my notes on my iPad or phone. The biggest times I generate waste is if I forget about a piece of food in the fridge and it goes bad. This happens very scarcely since me and my roommates eat all of our food in the week and visit the grocery store again over the weekend. I try to always bring my own reusable bags when I shop but if I forget then I reuse the paper bags they give me during another trip to the store. Most of my shopping is done at Ralphs. This intervention is interesting to me because it also makes me think about all the waste that goes into the food I eat everyday. I am not a vegetarian and so the food I eat such as beef uses lots of water waste and manure that must be processed in plants. All aspects of our first world lives contain waste that is impossible to get rid of.
I feel that in our society today we are so used to the idea of “out of sight, out of mind.” Many of the worst conditions in our world we do not see, so they do not bother us as much. However, when they are constantly right in front of us, we are reminded of the changes that need to be made in our own day to day lives. I believe this is especially true with trash. For the assignment of not throwing anything away for a week, I found that most of my trash came from food packaging which to me was mind boggling. Even some foods such as vegetables like zucchini, which shouldn’t need a package, came in a plastic wrapper. The second highest item of trash for me was paper. Receipts and paper towels marked the highest as many times stores give you a receipt even if you do not ask for it and then it immediately ends up in the trash. I also tend to use a lot of paper towels to clean or cook, when I am too lazy to use a plate or actual reusable towel that I will have to wash later on.
For a few days, I tried to carry around my trash in the side pockets of my backpack and found that it was very annoying. It was constantly getting in my way, but was a good reminder of the assignment.
Another finding that I had from doing this experiment was that I felt more inclined to compost since I was more aware of what I was throwing away. After sorting it, I am planning on throwing away my trash as usual and recycling as usual, but compost what I can. I’m also hoping to continue composting in the future and hoping to try to cut down on the packaged food I buy and my paper usage as well.
I followed my trash consumption from Oct 5-12th by keeping a list of items that I wasn’t able to preserve and by throwing the rest in a box in my garage. Throughout the week, I focused on returning as much of my food scraps as possible to our house compost, learning a lot about the process as a result. I hadn’t previously known that paper towels/ napkins were able to be composted and that about doubled the volume in my bin. I read up that for a compost to be efficient, it is important to have a balance of brown and green debris — presumably for the combination of carbon and nitrogen that each releases. So when the gardeners came to my backyard this week, I was able to combine about half of my green waste bin with tree scraps, and the other half with food. I learned to mix in the leaves and break down the twigs as much as possible to better facilitate its decomposition. Apart from the eggshells, veggies, coffee, etc. that I was able to compost, I was faced with the areas of waste I produced that could not be salvaged. The amount of unnecessary packaging that I accumulated was upsetting, from a styrofoam package for corn to a box around a plastic lining around a disposable razor. It was difficult to observe at one time every single-use cup, straw, utensil, bag, and package that I consumed and then typically cast off. The experiment opened my eyes to what a luxury being able to separate myself from my waste is, and what my life would look like should I be faced to confront it on a regular basis.. if rather than being taken to a dump my trash was confined to the limits of my backyard or garage. I made more of a conscious effort to buy glass products this week as a substitute, and I now have a few jars that I will be able to reuse. I found myself contemplating ethical questions, like leaving the lights on for our dog when the room was not in use.. leaving the lights on in general for when my roommate gets home. A seemingly thoughtful gesture, but at what cost. Noticed the unnecessary junk mail that comes to the house and I have no idea how to unsubscribe to. The lengths of my showers and the efficiency of my dishwashing. I used a full roll of paper-towels, a few sheets of aluminum foil, and several plastic sandwich bags which all could have been avoided. This intervention opened my eyes to the limited availability of biodegradable “Take Home” package options, for which I hope there is an increasing demand and awareness. It encouraged me to try packing food from home as much as possible and will attempt this next week to keep a pair of utensils, a cup, and tupperware with me while on campus. I plan to document that use and post the results once finished.
My garbage was saved from October 2 to October 9, 2017. The vast majority of my garbage consists of food wrappers and are therefore relatively easy to contain. It is surprisingly hard sometimes to keep track of the individual items, for example there meet be an empty bottle sitting on the table but soon enough that will be put in the recycling by someone and it’s such a casual thing that I would forget to collect it. Overall though this is an accurate portrayal of the landfill waste and the recyclable material that I generate through out the week.
I saved my waste for the “Don’t Throw Anything Away” assignment from October 2nd through October 9th. The first day my motivation wasn’t high because I was slightly annoyed collecting. Plastic sandwich bags, tea bag rapers and food scraps was my main sources of waste. And as the week went on I started readjusting my normal habits and it became easier to collect less. For example, I saved my plastic sandwich bags to reuse the following days.I was surprised how much food scraps I had and researched easy food waste recycling techniques and how I can start my own compost bin when I have my own house for my garden. To reduce my tea bag wrappers I bought loose leaf teas and a small tea filter which saved a lot of small waste. At the end of the week I kept the trash bags that started to smell outside and recycled my papers and plastics. This project has definitely inspired me to be aware everyday about what I buy, how things are made and the waste I produce. It all matters.
So I started my “Don’t Throw Anything Away” Self Intervention on Monday October 2nd, and just finished today on Monday the 9th of October. I took the self intervention as an opportunity to absolutely minimize my trash production and observe the difficulties and challenges, rather than consume and create trash at the same rate and analyze the contents after one weeks worth of trash. The vast majority of my trash production was of recyclable pieces of packaging and food scraps/peels that were compostable. I was pleased to have gone one week with only a few landfill-destination trash items which included a couple cheese stick wrappers, one candy wrapper, some non-recyclable packaging items, and some strands of floss. Granted, I did not include waste from my own digestive processes and TP due to the fact that I am in a communal living situation and really had no capacity to store these items without disturbing the communal environment). Going into the week, I was expecting to observe that I am already pretty trash-efficient. I use reusable tupper ware rather than plastic bags, I buy food in bulk to avoid redundant packaging, I drink loose-leaf tea…I really have already created some habits that reduce my waste production. However, the week of extreme trash production still highlighted a few areas of my life that are contributing to my waste footprint that I wasn’t paying attention to as much (like some foods that come in packages no matter how I try and buy them). However, I think the main thing I got out of the week was an attention for other areas of my life that I should take heed to “reduce”. I began turning off lights much more often and trying to use the minimal amount of lights necessary at all times. I began taking slightly shorter showers, turning off the water between wetting and rinsing my hands while washing. I avoided driving my car as much as possible and driving it as fuel efficiently as possible when I did drive. I also avoided meat more than I usually do. I even payed more attention to how much money I was saving. In essence, I payed much more attention to my efficiency in not just waste production, but other aspects of my resource consumption and the way I spend time and money. The hope is that I can continue to improve upon these habits to the point at which I’m subconsciously making efficient decisions (at an appropriate level that doesn’t interfere with my health or my social life that is). Prior to this week I’ve had some good habits and aspirations of riding a bike the majority of the time (maybe getting an electric bike or building one even). But now I think I’m a little more aware of how much more I can do every day to reduce my trash production and my resource consumption in general.
will start this Saturday, January 21 and try to include my entire family. They don’t particularly like it, but are reasonably tolerant. We collect and separate everything anyway. I’ll wait until Saturday Jan 21, because that’s when we dump the compost out back. I dumped the compost Saturday, making an epic pile that is about 4′ high. By Monday morning, it was over 100 degrees F, and will probably get to 150 in two more days. I’ve done this many times, but this time it’s different because I’m trying to include my family. Neil (8 yrs) was annoyed, but laughed. We’ll see his level of participation. Will he bring his garbage home from school lunch? To me, the response of those around you may be the most important facet of a self intervention, because community perception is what drives much of our choices. I was sad over winter break when my mother told me that she won’t let Tekuru’s cousins visit us because of the way we live, “it’s too disgusting for us.” So I took it as an opportunity to have a democratic discussion with the four of us on the way home. We are cleaning a little more, but by and large we kind of approve of the way we live. So you see from the picture that we have an incredible amount of paper recycling (lots of junk mail that it seems is impossible to stop) that I subsequently dumped into the bright blue recycle bin for curb-side pickup. We wondered at the enormous cardboard box that came with lots of packing and the rain pants for Tekuru (that could have easily fit in a small bag 1/10 the size. A bag of plastic bags (most of them from purchased food and then used to for lunches) will be recycled in the specially marked carton at the supermarket. Theres a small pile of trash that will be buried in a landfill for ~forever. And theres the compost from kitchen, dog and about 1.5 gallons of people poop. This will be carefully layered with vegetative yard waste to produce topsoil for the fruit trees.
– Taco Bell refuse (I shared this meal with my girlfriend, and therefore did not include half of the meal’s trash)
– Aluminum cans (I consumed many beers and la croix throughout the week, however I immediately place these in my recycling that I collect to take to the recycling center to get my aluminum deposit back)
– Paper grocery bag (In cabinet for reuse)
– Paper and other school supply scraps from thesis project
– Toilet paper
– Paper cup at café (I tossed this at the restaurant as I left)
– Milk carton (Still drinking)
This exercise was very interesting as I can’t usually see how much trash I produce so clearly. I know that my house produces a ton of trash, but it is much easier for me to not take responsibility, not seeing my portion beyond the individual pieces I contribute. My trash collected throughout the week consisted largely of food containers and wrappers. There were a few paper napkins tossed in the mix, however plastics made up a bulk of the trash. The plastics marked with the recycle logo were placed in the recycling, while the others were placed in the trash. I only flossed once this week, because I saw that as an easy way to reduce my waste. Also, there is one piece of gum pictured. Typically, I chew much more gum, but this week I greatly reduced because I don’t think there’s a good disposal method for gum and felt guilty for indulging. Overall, I think there is an easy solution to greatly reduce my trash load. Simply by eating out less, and shopping for items with less packaging at the grocery store, the amount of trash I produce would be drastically less.
Judy KongI started collecting my trash on October 2nd, right after I got home from my class at 6. From the get-go I knew that I was a trash hoarder, meaning that if I were to just flip my backpack over, things from three quarters ago would surreptitiously drop out of that incessantly deep black hole. However, a week has passed and my trash collection, ironically, was smaller than I had hoped. From my trash, I could tell the lifestyle I was living currently and what I needed to change.
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It turns out that I was living my life pretty pathetically. There weren’t food wrappers, barely, but just a couple huge venti cups of iced coffee I drank before a class or after in preparation for an all-nighter. And tissues…tissues everywhere. If I were a boy, a person would raise their eyebrows in confusion, awe, and disappointment (get the joke?) but alas, I was just incredibly sick. I’m an avid user of Kleenex and will run through boxes of tissues at a time in the quest for clear sinuses, and so, that fills up a majority of my trashcan. Other than that, it was just empty cups and a broken grocery bag. Pretty pathetic. This just explains how bad I’ve been treating my wallet and my body by eating out every day and not taking the time to cook at home and manage what I eat…hence the sickness, maybe. I feel like if it were another week, the tissues would be replaced with granola bar wrappings and more packaged food waste. Sigh. I guess I need to work on my health.
When Pete first announced the “Don’t throw anything away” assignment in class last Monday, I was actually really excited to see how much waste I create in a week. I got home after class that day and I duct taped a large trash bag to the wall and wrote “Annalisa’s Trash only” on the duct tape. Throughout the next couple of days, I did a pretty good job of remembering to throw everything away in my personal trashcan. I found myself recycling a lot more than i normally would because I was trying to keep my personal trash as small as possible. The friday following class I went to an overnight camp retreat for a club I’m involved in, and i forgot to save my trash from that day. My trash from that night included: a plastic plata, a plastic fork, and a banana peel. The biggest thing I took away from this intervention was a realization on how many things I throw away in the trash that could be recycled. My trash bag for the week was actually a lot smaller than i anticipated, and I think that is because I was much more conscious of putting food down the garbage disposal, and packaging in the recycling. ~ Also, I’m bummed because for some reason I am not able to upload a picture of my trash!The picture format is somehow too big for this website or something :/
Saving my trash for a whole week made me realize a couple things. The first is that a big pile of week old trash doesn’t smell very good. I also realized just how much trash humans produce just going through their daily lives. Almost all of my trash was wrapping or a container for food, which makes sense since food is perishable so it must be sealed. Every time I put the wrapper to a granola bar in my pocket because I couldn’t throw it away I thought about how much plastic is used by every single person in the world (Obviously people in less developed countries use a lot less). I also thought about how convenient public trash cans are. I didnt manage to save all my trash as I would forget occaisonally but I would say I managed to keep about eight percent of the trash I produced. One week of trash filled up about three grocery bags full of trash. Obviously some of this garbage can be recycled or decomposed but the majority is plastic, doomed to sit in a lanfill for the rest of time. This self intervention made me want to tweak my lifestyle a little bit in order to produce less trash.
My picture was definitely my favorite part of what I was about to post, but your website does not like the format of my picture for some odd reason. Collecting my trash for a week definitely made me think. At times when I would normally just buy a coffee, snack, or meal, but since I would have to carry my trash (or store it in my room), I was less inclined to eat out. It slowly made me realize how much more trash I waste when I eat out opposed to eating at home. Then I also realized how much money I save by not eating out as much. If I buy my food in bulk (which I normally do) and cook and prep meals beforehand. I save time, energy, money, and now that I realize it, trash. Future Matthew Meredith will consider trash much more when eating out now, and not just pay attention to the monetary benefit. Maybe I will try a full 30 days of not throwing anything away! Great intervention that I would recommend to others.
Saving my trash for a week was a good way to measure the amount of trash I can produce. I saw by avoiding spending on takeout food or spending less in general can drastically reduce ones waste. Most of my trash came from the grocery store and the mail. At the place I live my roommates and I try to minimize our environmental impact by recycling, composting, and
reusing bags when going to the market. Though I had a few items meant for the landfill most of my waste were recyclable.
This was quite an irritating intervention for me, it added a lot of stress collecting and just realizing how much trash (biodegradable and non-biodegradable) I produce. Before the intervention I predicted that it would be difficult to carry out the actual intervention because I’ll probably forget to keep my trashes. But once I get used to it, I assume that it will encourage me to spend less money because I’ll purchase less products (due to the packaging), which will require time investment to find the alternate options (food).
Day 1 I woke up 30 minutes earlier than usual to brew coffee and pack lunch. I intended to make sandwich but 30 minutes was apparently not enough time to make myself lunch. First trash of the day was the brewed, wet coffee powder and the filter. So I had to buy food on campus and ended up with plastic bowl from the red reddish salad bar. I also had to purchase index cards and ended up with thin plastic wrapper. I was finalizing my project for studio which was hand drafted so I end up with 4 11 x 17 white paper by the time I finished the project due to mistakes. The plastic container became quite handy for keeping all the trash together but it was still irritating having to carry that around with me.
Day 2 I intended to wake up an hour earlier but ended up waking up late. So I couldn’t brew coffee or pack lunch. But I keep a mug at my studio for water and we already had a coffee maker so I didn’t have to purchase coffee and end up with plastic cup fortunately. I considered this as privilege of having more resource as a landscape architecture major student. And this privilege seemed to affect me a lot when it comes to planning my day around the trash collection.
Day 3 Honestly, third day was pretty much a failure due to lack of motivation. I simply didn’t care much about the trash mainly because of academic stress. But I did discover the front porch, a café on campus where students can get free coffee. So that was somewhat motivating towards carrying my own coffee cup. And while I was working on the studio projects, I came across a thought that it was ironic that the college of architecture students produce largest amount of trash – when our studies involve and heavily rely on sustainability. But I also noticed the recycle bin in each studio for the cardboards for models so it was good to see the efforts we are putting in.
Day 4 Fourth day was a very busy day with not much time to create trash! Skipped meals and just studied all day. Only trash I produced was probably some toilet papers, eraser remains, post its, and pencil remains (from sharpening drafting pencils). Carried my own water bottle as usual so no plastic bottle used. At night when I got home I made instant microwavable food so that was little addition to the collection.
Day 5 Because it was the last day I put a lot of effort in make least amount of trash and collection of the trash I end up creating. But ironically I ended up with the most amount of trash compared to any of the past days. Embarrassingly, most trash came from eating a lot. I was in fact impressed with how much food I could consume in just several hours. So lot of my trash were plastic wrappers, plastic cups, plastic straw, plastic spoons, forks, wooden chopsticks, napkins, and little bit of biodegradable/organic trashes. It was depressing to realize how much plastic I used that day and how many things are made of plastic.
Some days I wasn’t satisfied, rather disappointed with how much trash I ended up with and knowing that wasn’t even the all of trash (because I didn’t keep any ‘organic’ trash) I produced for the day. But my roommates joined me in the intervention and we started to compete to see who produces the least amount of trash in our house. We brought out a box and placed our own trash in each box every time we produced trash. At the end of the day I had fun sorting out my trash and separating them into recyclable pile.
I did not throw away trash from January 19th to January 25th. In the box is only recyclables. This was a particular week because I think I normally produce more trash than just this one box of recyclables. The reason being, I went out of town for the weekend (where I ate ou
t the whole time), and then made ate curry and ordered food for the rest of the days of the week. With that being said, whenever I eat out, I do not have trash to show, but the eateries would have had trash from making
my food. Also, knowing that this is a low-ball week of trash, it is safe to assume that I normally produce more waste than this. On a similar note, it felt like I was constantly saving trash to throw away at home, and on several occasions I decided not to eat/buy an item so that I would not have to hold onto the packaging. Another thing I noticed is that most of the garbage I produced used to be a wrapping of some sort. Overall, learned that I as an individual produce a lot of trash. Seeing others on this page makes me realize how much trash we produce as a whole. It is harder to say “out of sight, out of mind” at this point.
I saved my trash from January 23 to January 30th. It was slightly annoying keeping my granola bar wrappers and plastic bags that I would bring to campus for lunch on me. However, as the week went on, I realized that if I kept my plastic bags I could reuse them for the following days, reducing my negative environmental impact. I kept the trash i collected throughout the week next to my trashcan. Unfortunately, the some food started smelling, like my yogurt containers. So in order to keep my roommates happy, I mainly collected my recycling waste and non-smelly food. I was most surprised at the amount of coffee grinds and vegetable ends (things that could potentially be used as compost) that I produced. I now believe that once I get my own home with backyard, I will start a compost pile. I did my best to produce as little food waste as possible which caused me to alter some of my eating habits. I refrained from eating apples and bananas, both make the house smell bad if they are not thrown away fast enough. Overall, this was a beneficial experience and I learned a lot about my personal trash habits.
Initially when I received this assignment, I thought it would be extremely easy. As a heath-conscious individual, I assumed that I would not be generating a lot of waste. But boy was I wrong. After about two days, I realized that I drink a lot of Starbucks, prepare food in an unnecessary amount of plastic bags, and don’t eat as many ‘clean foods’ as I was anticipating. Unfortunately, I was unable to make more than 4 days as my roommates held a ” Self- Intervention Intervention, where they expresses their concerns of me carrying a bag of trash wherever I went. However, during my self- intervention I was enlightened on the waste that I generate and have taken it upon my self to cut back on my plastic bag usage as well as provide my own expresso cup when I get coffee.
Since I tend to stay on campus until at least 9pm and I have classwork that takes up a large portion of my time, I do not get to grocery shop as often as I want. This causes me to buy food on campus regularly, which compiles into more and more trash. Most of my trash generally comes from food, unless I have to order something online, in which case I’ll have some cardboard packaging to discard. After day 4, my trash can was already full and I had to replace the trash bag, but I tied the full bag and left it next to the trash can. Unfortunately I was not able to fully commit myself to this experiment, because the house recycling bin filled up much faster than anticipated. After a house get-together with friends, lots of junk mail, and multiple packages sent by day two, the recycling bin filled up completely. Since this is a communal bin stationed in the kitchen, I decided to not keep the recycling trash bags, for the sake of my roommates. I also came to the conclusion that when I do have the opportunity to grocery shop, I should try to reduce the amount of trash by buying food that comes in minimal packaging, or bulk items if I have the room for it.
I have done this intervention once before, however it was in high school Environmental Science class about four years ago and we actually had to carry our whole trash bag around campus with us. But it was interesting seeing the difference between the amount of trash I accumulated back then compared to now. In high school I would say I definitely did not produce as much trash as I do now, this is probably due to the fact that I had more homecooked meals and brought lunches in reusable containers. However, I find myself now not having much time to cook fresh meals or make meal prep lunches. I tend to buy lots of food on campus which I found produces a lot of waste. When the intervention first began, I was actually headed down for a field trip in LA where I pretty much ate out and bought food everyday. I tried to keep as much of the packaging that I could to bring back and add to my collection. However, I didn’t keep food scraps and so on because of the smell while traveling. For the rest of the days I thought I did a pretty good job with collecting most of my trash. But on Wednesday our cleaners had accidentally thrown away the trash bags even thought we’d hid them in the closet! But other than that, I thought this intervention made me more aware about the amount of trash I produce on a daily basis. I was surprised to see how many Starbucks cups I had gone through. I think one easy solution for that would be to start bringing my own container for coffee. I should also try and budget some time to prep meals for lunch instead of always having to buy packaged foods. I would like to be able to compost my food scraps but since we live in a townhome with no yard that would be difficult to do. I do try and recycle papers and separate our plastics from soiled trash. I also spend most of my time in the architecture building on campus making models and so on. As you can imagine we produce a lost of paper and cardboard waste. I find it astonishing that there’s no recycling bin in that whole building. I think that would be a good idea to mention to our faculty and see if they can bring one in for us as 90% of our trash could be recycled instead. Overall this was a very insightful project that has inspired me to strive to reduce my waste.
As an often paranoid individual who was raised by his parents to ‘always be prepared’ or to ‘always double check’, I’ve found that I waste a lot more than I actually need. Once I started this intervention, this reality became just too obvious. For example, I would often be that person who got a bunch of food and asked for a receipt, just so I could double check whether I got double-charged; or I would be that person who’d get a few taco and instinctively take 4-5 paper napkins for that ‘just in case’ mess… only to use maybe a corner of one and have the remaining 4 just sit on my desk for a decade (or before I got some paint, glue, or ink on it and rendered it useless).
Looking through the collection of waste I’d accumulated, I’ve realised most of the waste I generated through this intervention was from food-related events: coffee cups, plastic utensils, cardboard blaze-pizza boxes… And as a result I’ve started to correct this midway through this intervention. Instead of getting my drinks in a new cup every time I get coffee (which is quite often), I’ve washed and am reusing a small glass milk bottle. I’ve also stolen a set of utensils from home and keep it at studio for the days I dine on campus. As an experiment I once asked campus market whether they could put my teriyaki bowl in a container I brought to school the day prior and washed, but understandably, they said it probably went against health codes so
My largest pieces of waste, which my roomates got annoyed with and threw out (sorry Pete) (they recycled it if it makes you feel any better), was this approximately 36″x24″ box that Amazon decided to ship me that contained a ~12″x9″ pre-padded wireless keyboard…so…I dont really see that as a fault on my part… BUT it did make me think about how much waste might be saved by targeting the corporate/industrial side of things: say maybe instead of Amazon having to put a needlessly large box over another box that they could just have some contractual agreement with the first-party creators to ensure the product already has padding in its box? Then they’d just maybe wrap and ship it with label? I don’t know how much this would save and honestly if everyone’s recycling (which they should be), then all this might just be a lot of extra work and energy and cost but yeah… got me thinking.
Oh! and I recycled almost all the trash I had, comprised mostly of cups and food containers/utensils, papers, small bits of model making supplies… Though I did collect a small sizable collection that I feel guilty for, it comforts me that this trash has usually been most/all recyclables.
This is not my first experience in which I don’t throw away my trash for a week, the first time I did do this self-intervention was for another class that Pete taught, Appropriate Technology. During my first attempt in trying not to throw anything away all I could think about was how much trash I was accumulating. The fact was: it was a lot of trash! Back then, it was simply an experiment for me to see how much trash I naturally throw away throughout a week. This time however, I tried approaching this week of not throwing anything away as an attempt to minimize the amount of trash that I produce. Sadly, I believe that not much actually changed in the amount of trash that I produce in a week. The problem is that the majority of trash that I produce is in the form of packaging left over from food that was either frozen or ordered from fast food delivery. In a sense, there is a correlation between the diet that I have vs the trash that I will produce from it. At that point, there is only so much trash that I can minimize but I suppose the next step for me would be to start forming a compost pile but I highly doubt that my housemates would be on board for that idea (but it is an udea for the future none the less!).
Pre-Self Intervention- I predict that this intervention will have a healthy outcome for me personally as well as environmentally. It should encourage me to pack my own foods and eat less packaged/processed meals (more whole foods). I’ve come to realize that most of my trash comes from food, and I can see that that is a common denominator among most people. I don’t know how well I’ll do, but I remember watching this video a few years ago and it really inspired me to think about consumption and trash production. Maybe this is the intervention I need in order to be more like “zero-waste girl!”
Day 1- Today is Thursday, January 19. I’ve been good about consciously making food decisions/purchasing decisions that involve less trash. Forgot to pack a lunch today, so I had to buy food on campus and carry it around all day. After realizing that I have to walk around with my trash, I’m starting to think that this intervention also serves to guilt-trip me a bit for using my trash.
Day 2- Remembered to pack a lunch today, and I love that my lunch box can also serve as something to hold my trash when I’m done! I have a tennis tournament this weekend in Irvine, and I’m interested to see how my self-intervention will play out on the road. Update: Irvine tournament cancelled from rain, so I won’t get a chance to see how my trash differs when I’m “on vacation” 🙁
Day 3- I volunteered at the Women’s March this morning, and hung back for a little while after the crowd mostly left. Surprisingly, there was NO LITTER after the march, which made me really proud. As for my own trash production, I’ve been eating lots of soup in this rainy weather, so cans are starting to pile up. I also received a package today, so my Amazon box will be the first non-food trash to enter my collection.
Day 4- Went grocery shopping today to get the ingredients for my favorite vegan clam chowder recipe. Brought my reusable bag, and tried my best not to use the small plastic bags from the produce section (except I needed it for broccoli and mushrooms). It motivated me to look up reusable produce bags on Amazon. I’ve also noticed that this self-intervention has subconsciously influenced me to not make more food than I need. I’ve had barely any food waste since I began, and have a good idea of what portions fill me up.
Day 5- I packed a small lunch today, which wasn’t quite enough since I had 6 hours of class and then practice in the evening. So, I had to resort to buying campus food once again. Although it’s not super expensive to buy food on campus, I do notice a significant difference in savings from when I make my own meals (added bonus to the experience!). At tennis practice, I brought my food trash with me and many people asked about it. Instead of feeling weird/odd for having my trash with me (like I felt in the beginning), I’ve started to feel proud to say that I’m sticking with this intervention and I’m conscious about how much trash I produce.
Day 6- Running low on groceries for packing a lunch, resorted to buying some snacks on campus and carrying around trash until I can get home after class and cook. For dinner I had leftovers from the soup I made over the weekend, which means no trash produced 🙂
Day 7- Can’t believe it’s already been a week, but at the same time I’m relieved that I can throw things away starting tomorrow. My desk is now filled with a lot of trash and it doesn’t smell pleasant (sorry Hannah, my roommate). Today was a long day with six hours of class, so I gave in to my desire for Starbucks. I’ve been pretty good during this week about drinking my tea at home and not producing waste/spending money, so I figured I could “reward” myself. I also have been deciding whether I should include all of the trash I didn’t directly purchase but contributed to (i.e. sharing pizza with friends, should I keep the box?). Overall, my experience has been very positive with this self-intervention, and I can see this affecting my personal decisions in the future. Just gaining self-awareness about how much trash I produce as one, single person can be enough to make a difference. Maybe I’ll use this experience alongside my packaging classes as well.
I attempted this self intervention twice: the first time around, my roommates accidentally threw away my unlabeled, heaping bag of trash. I’ll admit that the second time around I was more conscious of the amount of packaging and single-use items that I purchased and used. As a member of the Zero-Waste club on campus, I am made aware of the harms of non-reusable items every week at meetings but do not always do my part to limit the amount of trash I use. This intervention helped me visualize and quantify the amount of trash that could be prevented simply by switching to reusable items like ziplocs or canvas produce bags. I composted for a week and asked my roommates to do the same. At the end of the week, I brought the compost to my friend who has a compost pile in his backyard. When I went to Trader Joes to buy groceries, I bought my own bags for produce and limited the amount of packaged items I bought, though it was difficult. I’ve realized that simple changes can be made to minimize my footprint simply by being more conscientious of my daily choices. I noticed myself cooking at home more often so that I wouldn’t have to buy food with packaging! I didn’t want to add another piece of trash to my pile!
For future progress in this initiative toward a more sustainable me, I would like to learn how to repurpose “trash”, limit the amount of single-use items I purchase, and compost my food scraps.
I kept forgetting about this self-intervention and throwing my trash away, especially when I was at school when I had bananas. I always try not to have too much trash unnecessarily, but this intervention has shown me that theres still a lot that could be done. Egg cartons and milk cartons are things my house goes through every week. That’s at least 52 cartons of eggs and 52 jugs of milk every year just from our house. The little bags from grocery stores to hold vegetables and fruit also add up. I became more aware about how individually packaged everything is: toilet paper, paper towels, fruit snacks, popcorn, and little raisin boxes. They’re mostly packaged for convenience, but if we could bring in our own containers for these things, wouldn’t it be better? Like bringing in a coffee mug to a coffee shop, instead of getting a styrofoam cup.
I started the intervention last week. At first it was hard to start, because I kept on forgetting that I have started the intervention. Anyways, I separated my trash into three bags – food waste, waste, and recycle. After a week of not taking out the trash, I was surprised how fast the recycle bag filled up. Plastic bottles, cup, and packages took so much room and they were hard to avoid, because they are everywhere! This intervention helped me become more aware of what I purchase when I go out. I started to purchase less starbucks drinks and less refrigerated food during this past week. I began to reflect on the food that I consumed based on the trash I produced, I feel like I should change my diet to more healthy options.
The Thursday when the intervention began, I also headed down to Los Angeles for a field trip with my architecture studio. Being out of town, I had to buy all my food and that produced a lot of waste. Because of convenience, I did not keep all the packaging of the foods I bought because it was raining heavily and we were walking around for 12+ hours. I saved what I could, and brought it back to slo. The following couple days, I was conscious to keep all the trash, if I remembered. I found myself walking over to the trashcan often when I was in class and then remembering I needed to save it to bring back home. Because I usually eat packed lunch, I didn’t produce much trash during except for the fruit snack wrapper and a cardboard carton of juice. On days when I forgot lunch, I had to buy from the food trucks on campus and that produced wasted plastic and paper trays. By Wednesday, I had a pretty big bag of just wrappers, plastics, and cardboard fruit juice cartons. HOWEVER, we have a house cleaner come on Wednesday and though I hid the big bags of trash in the coat closet downstairs, they somehow found it and threw it out. So by Thursday morning, the trash pile I worked hard to collect was gone. HOWEVER, I would like to comment on the fact that I did not save any of my organic compostable trash because of the smell and mess. I didn’t want ants crawling around it, especially since I didn’t have a yard to keep it. The picture below shows what was left the next couple days when I continued to save up wrappers and other packaged foods I consume. I think it’s the fast paced lifestyle that makes us produce so much trash because I was eating more unhealthy that week than most because my trash consumed of mostlye snack wrappers and ramen packages.
I guess the main point of the intervention is that it taught me how much trash I actually produced. I thought I produced very little because I eat at home 90% of the time…yet I found so much plastics and paper packaging, even when buying groceries at the store. It made me more aware of the decisions I am making and I’m considering trying a better trash-free lifestyle when I could (when I graduate and have my own place)…I don’t think I could go all the way with poop composting but I think I could try the bringing-your-own bag for the produce section at the market, buying whole sale foods, and local farmer market. I’m slowly becoming more aware of the environmental consequences of the way we transport and sell/buy things and I think it’s good that the movement toward environmental friendly/ cruelty free lifestyle is really good.
I had never done this type of intervention before but I had witnessed my friend do an alternative intervention where she had to carry around her trash wherever she went. She worked really hard not to make waste. I began my intervention on January 27th and ended on February 3rd. I thought it would be difficult for me to remember so I put up post its all over my apartment, but it turned out that I kept the intervention in mind pretty well. I mostly cook for myself and do my grocery shopping in bulk so I didn’t have a lot of packaging as I didn’t go shopping this week. I did recycle some cans, paper, and plastic packaging from food and school work. I put any compostable trash in a reused sealable bag in my freezer to prevent it from stinking. I came to realize that I generate the majority of my trash from frozen foods and packaged foods. If I bought more fresh foods more regularly I could eliminate a lot of waste. This intervention helped me realize how much packaging comes with most things I buy and I wish that weren’t the case, so hopefully I can try my best to avoid it in the future.
I’ve done this self-intervention project once before for a class in high school, except we had to carry our waste around with us, so I had an idea of what it would be like going in. I collected my trash from January 23rd through January 30th. I did a really good job of saving my trash from January 23rd through January 26th and a not-so-great job of saving my trash from January 27th through January 30th. In the first half of the week, I had a bag in the kitchen and a bag in my room to collect the trash for convenience purposes. Monday and Tuesday were super easy because I got horribly sick Monday night and spent all of Tuesday at home dying in my bed, so I didn’t produce much trash to save nor did I leave the house and have to carry any trash with me. Wednesday and Thursday were more difficult because I was on campus a lot. At this time, I was very aware of what I was eating and the packages they came in because I didn’t want to have to carry the trash with me all day (I’m on campus literally all day Thursday). It reminded me to pack a lunch, so I wouldn’t have to deal with trash from single-serve packaging. It also helped to curb my tendency to impulsively get Starbucks, choosing instead to stick with water from my reusable water bottle, so that positively impacted my health and reduced unnecessary expenses which is a fun bonus. Thursday night, one of my roommates (accidentally) sabotaged my progress and threw out the bag that I had in the kitchen with the rest of the trash, sparking a steep decline in my motivation/ability to remember to save my trash. Friday-Sunday I was at a retreat in Santa Cruz which limited my ability (and motivation, to be honest) to save my trash. Food was not allowed in the cabins for wildlife and insect reasons, so I was not able to hold on to my food waste. To be fair, I also didn’t produce much waste because nothing was packaged. This camp also composts their food waste, so I didn’t feel super bad about having to throw it away, as it’s not going to a landfill. All-in-all, it was a very enlightening experience. I’m already pretty mindful about what I buy and the packaging it comes in, but I was surprised to see the sheer amount of plastic I accumulated in one week. This self-intervention has definitely inspired me to reduce the amount of plastic I use.
I did my intervention from January 23-30th. It was really hard to remember to do this, especially living with 5 other people. There were times when I forgot to keep my trash but I did my best! I eat a lot of meals on the go and that contributed to the most of my trash, along with all the bags that food items come to me from the store in. I would say I’m like an average producer of trash, I’m not super conscious of it but I don’t over use trash. I went on a trip to Bakersfield with my sister and my trash was floating around the car so on the drive home I put it in a bag and my sister asked me if she wanted me to throw it away and I told her about the project. Overall I didn’t really change because of this project, I actually used less trash than I expected I would use, my roommate even commented how she was impressed how little I had. I think I care about the environment and try not to hurt it but Im not extreme in any way. Like I said earlier most of my trash was plastic, with some paper and a little compost.
I did my self-intervention project from 01/23-01/31. Even though I live with 4 other people, I was only able to keep track of my own trash. I also had an empty egg carton a couple days after this picture was taken which I used over the week. I kept the egg shells in the carton until they were all finished (I always do this). I contributed less trash this week because I went home for Chinese New Year over the weekend and was very busy so did not collect any trash then. I went out twice over the week which contributed to the box of leftover fries and the Chipotle. Over the week, I mainly made my coffee at home which contributed to many k-cups (housemates and mine included) and I went out for coffee once. Every other week I go through one plastic box of salad/spinach in which I always reuse to fill my used k-cups. This project made me more self-aware of what I was buying and eating. I only bought stuff I knew that would last me longer than a week or that it can be refrigerated. Most of my stuff that week were recyclable so that’s what I did after. 🙂
Below this line is for Fall 2016, Appropriate Technology, Development
I started this intervention kind of late, and I was really surprised at how hard it was. Considering where I was living at the start and the end of this intervention were different and I was living a very mobile lifestyle, I was buying a lot of food. The trash I collected from the first day alone was a disgusting amount. By the end of the week I had gotten used to carrying my trash around with me so I started to bring my food with me in containers. I think this is the reason I used to not bring my lunch to work or school. During this intervention I stopped being lazy and started packing my lunch, considering I’d have to carry it around regardless.
I started this intervention on Monday and I tried to be super aware of how to make it as easy as possible to minimize my trash. That started with not eating out as much and not buying anything when I went grocery shopping with a lot of packaging. Working in a restaurant we probably throw away around 100 pounds of food and trash away, maybe even more and that made me realize every time I eat out I contribute to that huge amount of waste. Overall I didn’t really throw away much trash just because I don’t snack much throughout the day and when you meal plan it makes at the beginning of the week it really cuts down on the trash that you throw away from food and that is usually what most of my trash comes from. My house uses a lot of paper towels so I tried to get everyone to cut down on those and use other methods to clean the kitchen. Overall I came to the realization that because we live in a consumer society we automatically produce a lot of trash but if I am conscious of all of it, it makes a huge difference in the trash I produced.
I started saving my trash after class on Monday. Right away I knew it was going to be a challenge if I didn’t want a smelly pile of stuff laying around all week. However, all in all I really did not end up throwing out too many things. When I transport foods, I use Tupperware containers and I bring silverware from home. My food gets ingested and my tupperware container and silverware go home to be washed and reused. Throughout the day the only other things I wanted to throw out were notes from school, and all paper is recyclable. When cooking dinner and cleaning, I used towels more than paper towels towards the beginning of the week. Towards the end I ended up using paper towels but made sure to recycle the paper towel. I did this because the towels got gross and I was not quick to wash them. When I was out, I did throw more things out, however most of it was always recyclable. I think the greatest benefit I got out of this was seeing how much of a difference you can make with the amount of trash you throw away simply by becoming conscious to it.
In the beginning of October, for one week I did not throw away any of my trash. When the week started all of my roommates/housemates kept asking me why I was collecting garbage outside of my room, and I kept having to reassure them that it was for one of my classes. I live with 28 other guys at my house so I tried to keep it out the way from everyone else. As the week went on I realized that I really don’t throw away that much stuff. For the most part the trash collected was from the food I was making, or from the containers or boxes that food came in when I went out to eat. However, as the week came to end I realized that although 90% of my garbage was from eating, it had definitely accumulated to a point that I didn’t expect. This experience gave me a better understanding on how much trash is involved with your daily/weekly life. It is easy to say that “I will try and watch how much stuff I throw away in the future” however it is a lot harder to do so when the time comes where you need to toss something out. In conclusion, my main goal from here on out is to properly utilize the different containers for compost, recycling, and etc.
So I began my week of not throwing stuff away and eventually had to move my trash outside. The first time I tried, my roommates accidentally mixed their trash with mine and threw it away. I normally like to meal prep, so much of my trash comes from a single day in the week. I noticed that a lot of the packaging for the items I buy come in some sort of plastic, making it easier to recycle. However, I don’t know if this is true, but one of my roommates was telling me that you can’t recycle things that have food on them like microwavable meals. I’ll look into this more. Most of what I use is fruits and vegetables, so anything I don’t eat or that is about to go bad, I feed to my bunny rabbit. She eats a lot and doesn’t mind eating apple cores or the butt of my lettuces. My banana peels however attracted a lot of flies outside, so a closed container for compost would be ideal. There was probably more trash in my car from coffee cups and receipts, but these could also be recycled. I found out it doesn’t take too long to sort through things if you just take a little time to designate piles. Overall, this assignment made me self conscious of my own waste in addition to making me conscious of the waste of those around me.
I saved my trash from October 10th through October 17th. I was surprised how this assignment made me try to not create or accumulate as much waste throughout the day. For example, instead of buying packaged food on campus I brought food from home and reused plastic bags to carry that food. Most of my trash, I realized, is in some way related to food products, whether it be banana peels or packaging from food. I also used a lot of paper towels and tissues as I was sick as I was doing this assignment. I think this assignment showed me that I could try and buy food products that have less plastic packaging or produce less waste. it was also interesting to see how cooking dinner for myself made less waste than purchasing a meal from a restaurant. During this assignment I did throw away the packaging for raw chicken and chicken fat as I did not want raw chicken sitting out for a week. Overall I thought I would have more trash than I did but I definitely see areas where I could try and reduce my waste.
I saved trash, specifically paper and the act of printing paper (overwhelming consumption), beginning from October 8th until October 15th. The main purpose for me was to value the vast amounts of paper that I run through and the fraction I contribute to hindering the environment. I understood that by reducing and recycling paper are vital to achieving the sustainability one person at a time we’d want to see in the work. Most of the time I print a piece of paper only on one side without thinking before the act of printing or copying. My experience in reducing and reusing a lot of the paper made me feel good about the impact I made and will continue to make on the environment. I felt that everyone can do this; it was a little more inconvenient at first that I had to keep track of my disposed paper. But now, nothing bothers me anymore because I am used to the new habits. I just need to further modify my methods of recycling, reusing, and reducing given my lifestyle changes and the career I will pursue. I did not spend any initial costs or efforts to reduce paper consumption at home which is something to take note of (key factor in a development model is the price-point). The benefits of rerecycling changed my lifestyle to be more sustainable, affecting and persuading other (through my behaviors) the economic benefits and impact reducing paper consumption can have (along with ink tonage savings!) for a clean environment.
I saved my trash from October 16th to October 23rd.
Sadly to say I was not perfect in keeping 100% of my trash, as there were a handful of times that I went out to eat and forgot to save my trash, or blew my nose and immediately threw the tissue in the garbage. This was actually my second attempt at it because I forgot after the first two days when I started back on October 10th. In both instances, I quickly realized how much waste I produce without even thinking about it. One of the biggest things I realized in this intervention is just how many paper towels I used either to dry my hands, clean my kitchen/bathroom or clean something up once it spilled. I quickly made the change to using reusable cotton rags or towels instead. Also, I was able to quickly see how much paper and plastic waste I make. Additionally, it was eye opening to see how much waste is created when I order things online. There is a ton of plastic and paper packaging associated with ordering things online that I just didn’t realize, so I am trying to make more of an effort to buy things locally. In terms of food waste, I already do compost a majority of food waste created at my house (not pictured), as my family uses the compost to fertilize our fruit trees and small garden.
I definitely think I began to actively try to produce less waste about half way through the week, as after the first couple of days I already had a sizable collection of plastic bags, packaged foods, and plastic cups/bottles. When buying food, I tried to buy things that had to least amount of packaging possible, or purchase things that come in recyclable cardboard boxes as opposed to plastic bags. At the end of the week, I saw that about half of the waste I created could be recycled (plastics, paper, and cardboard), and the rest had to go in the garbage. I thought this was a really interesting experience and very eye opening as to our individual footprint in the world.
I collected my trash from October 15th to October 22nd. I will admit, there were many times that I forgot to save my trash when I was out, but I was pretty good about saving the trash that I had in my apartment. I was initially saving things like banana peels and other food waste, but it got way too smelly and I had to throw it out. By the end of the week, I was left with a lot of recyclable waste. This included primarily paper products (not so much plastic), although my large accumulation of cardboard and paper seemed sprinkled with bottles and packaging of sorts. In an attempt to store my trash more efficiently, I used cardboard boxes or paper bags that I was planning on getting rid of to throw my other trash in. When it came to taking pictures of my trash, I honestly was really surprised at the amount I had accumulated in just a week considering that it was probably only 60% of the trash that I had actually created.
My experience with not throwing anything away was very interesting. I separated my trash into compost, recycling and garbage like I usually do, but I just did not take it out at the end of the week. The main thing that I noticed is that my compost bin actually contains a lot of products that could still be used for food. I do not think that I use that much trash minus I use a ton of tissues because of allergies. Overall I will try to be more cognitive on when I throw a piece of fruit or a vegetable away. I will also try to make my roommate more aware of everything that they throw away.
I have never done this experiment before, but I have always tried to minimize the amount of trash I make. I rarely eat out and make all my own food, so most of my trash was from food that I’ve made at home such as milk cartons, cans, cereal boxes, and random plastic wrappers. I realized that I use a lot of paper towels, but during the intervention I would hesitate to grab a paper towel if I needed to clean something and go for our cloth towels instead. Normally, my paper towel waste would probably be about 5 times what I used this last week, so I’ll be trying to keep this up and use less paper towels and napkins from now on. The other big thing I realized is that a lot of my trash is actually recyclable and I normally just throw things in the garbage without thinking about it. For instance, the cardboard cylinder in toilet paper, plastic ziplock bags, and small papers from teabags or granola bars would normally go in the trash but now I can see the error of my ways. From now on I’ll be more aware of the things that should be recycled, even if they are small and seemingly unimportant. On the left are all my recyclables and on the right is my actual trash. Like I said, the amount of recyclable stuff is much more than the amount that isn’t. Also, my room mates didn’t participate. I told them what I was doing and they all kind of thought it was an annoying project that I had to do. I actually didn’t think it was too bad, and I learned a good amount about my habits.
I collected my trash for a total of 5 days, since I ended up going home over the weekend and I ate out while I was home so trash was not collected. I do not have a picture because my roommate did not realize my bag of trash was for a project so she threw it away. My trash consisted mostly of boxes, bags, paper plates, napkins, tissues, and wrappers. There was not much food in the bag since I try and eat everything instead of wasting it. Throughout this project, I found myself reusing the items that were in the trash. For example if I needed a paper plate, I would just reuse one that I used earlier that day. If I needed a napkin to wipe something up, and a paper towel was only gently used, I would reuse it to clean up. I also found myself using plastic reusable containers to store my food or to eat out of. This way, instead of accumulating trash, these containers could be washed and reused for another time. Although, my next theory is whether the water used to wash this container is more sacred than the trash itself. After all, California is in an awful drought so it might be better just to use paper products that do not require the use of water to wash them. I frequently squeeze lemons into my water so that compost helped my trash not smell so terrible. I think the worst was when I bought a rotiseree chicken and I had to throw away the remains (bones, fat, etc). That is what ultimately caused my trash to really smell which is probably why my roommate felt it was best to throw it away. In the beginning, there were many plastic water bottles that I used, but toward the end, I realized it is best to use a reusable water bottle to eliminate some trash.
I collected my trash from Monday, 10/10, until Monday, 10/17, and stored it in my garage. At the end of the week I had a bag of recycling, a small bag of compostable material, and another small bag of trash like wipes and paper towels. I admit there were a couple times when I went out to eat and did not save my trash. One type of waste that I’ve been trying to minimize is food. I work in a kitchen, and sometimes we unfortunately have to throw food away. At home, I recycle most of my trash I get from food packaging, but I’ve noticed that my roommates rarely recycle items that are clear to me should be recycled. Maybe the next step in the intervention is to influence the people that are wasting the most, because there are some people that do not care about the environment.
I didn’t start the trash intervention until after class on Monday (10/10) primarily because I needed professor Schwartz to clarify some critical logistic prior to commencing. My immediate concern was determining what I was going to store the waste in and how I was going to prevent it from developing a foul odor. What I ended up doing was separating my recyclables, paper towels/tissues and non-recyclable food plastics, and compostable food in different bags and keeping them out on our apartment balcony to prevent unpleasant smells and pest throughout our kitchen and living room. Unfortunately, not all of my food scraps are photographed (ie. lemon rinds, avocado skins, egg shells, tomato vines, and herb stems) because they started to get so rancid that they were attracting numerous ants and flies. Another aspect I was conflicted about was the fact that often times my roommates leave their trash and mess on the kitchen countertops and I am always inclined to immediately clean it up to minimize clutter, but i wasn’t sure if I should put their waste in the actual garbage of in my waste stockpile. Nevertheless, the picture I have attached is solely of MY waste. Although it is very eye opening how much food packaging and paper waste I contribute to, this picture in not entirely representative of my overall waste production. This is primarily because I don’t have the waste from the 2 times I ate out or the 2 evenings I cooked for my boyfriend’s family (because his mother accidentally threw out all the waste I had set aside).
In addition, I am fortunate enough to live really close to campus so I am able to walk home for all my meals; hence, that minimizes my on-the-go waste production. I am also very conscious of always utilizing reusable water bottles and grocery bags, as well as rinsing and reusing Ziploc bags. On the other hand, I was truly astonished by the amount of Kleenex tissues I used throughout the week. Once I came to this realization, I tried to use more sturdy paper towels to dry my hands, wrap my food in, spit my gum out, blow by nose, etc. because they can be used for multiple purposes and used more than once; however, even then I found myself going through far more paper towels that I would like to admit. Therefore, I would say that paper goods are my primary source of waste, other than gum wrappers and Keurig “K-cups.” Now that I have gained a better awareness of my habitual gum chewing and paper towel usage, I am going to make an active effort to use this awareness to find alternatives to this waste production. For example, chewing less gum and/or spiting my gum directly into the trashcan rather than into a tissue or wrapper first, employing a drip coffee maker instead of using my roommates Keurig, drying my hands on cloth kitchen towels, and thinking of an alternative (ie. a plate or reusable/repurposed bag) for wrapping my breakfast/snacks/food in.
Starting off the week, I did pretty well avoiding disposable items in my life. I wanted to avoid carrying around trash as much as possible, so I pre-made a lot of my lunches and meals in reusable containers instead of purchasing food on-the-go from Starbucks (per my usual). But then toward the end of the week, I got lazy and also ran out of my pre-made food! So I then was forced to surrender to carrying around various trash items such as banana peels, coffee cups, and snack bar wrappers in my backpack throughout my day. This started to frustrate me by Wednesday evening. I’d say I’m an exceptionally tidy and sanitary-oriented person and so this assignment was really difficult for me once my attempt to avoid carrying trash by using reusable containers fizzled out due to laziness. Also, the frustration really hit strong when I had to store all of my collected trash at my house. Seeing as I couldn’t actually throw it in the trash can, it was developing a disgusting smell and flies were swarming like crazy. We actually recently developed a pantry moth problem at my house and this definitely did not help getting rid of that at all! Thankfully, I survived the week and was beyond excited to throw away my accumulated trash pile. Through this assignment, I realized I could definitely cut down on the the amount of disposable products I consume on a weekly basis, but also that the convenience of those items really is fabulous. Especially for most weeks (unlike last) where I can throw those items away!
I started this project following class Monday. I compost any food scraps and throw out minimal amounts of food. I purchase most of my produce from farmers market using my own reusable bags and buy most dry goods in large quantities or bulk which last longer then a week. That being said I also got invited out to already made dinners twice and spent this weekend in Santa Barbara and Big Sur. This weeks image of my food waste encompasses a much smaller amount of my waste then a normal week. My roommate also threw one of my compost buckets into the yard waste before I could tell her not to, so I usually have a lot more raw unavoidable food scraps like avocado peals and pits etc. I am very conscious of packaging, reusing bags and how to properly dispose of my waste, which makes the amount of waste I created in about 5 days appalling large! I was also more thoughtful about what I needed in the means of grocery shopping because I didn’t want to have to throw even more then necessary away. I used even more waste partway that’s still in my kitchen storage. I also pick through my garbage and put my roommates waste into the recycling or compost most days because I can’t get it to stick in all of their heads, in doing this I am much more aware of the larger amounts of waste that average people generate.
I began collecting trash on Tuesday because I forgot to do it on Monday. This week of not throwing anything away helped me realize how much I can do to cut down on the amount of resources I waste. I already use tupperware and avoid buying bottled water most of the time, so that helped cut down on the plastic in my trash collection. I did use plastic at the grocery store for the vegetables I bought but I realized this can be easily avoided by bringing a personal re-usable bag for vegetables. I also eat eggs every morning so I had a ton of eggshells in my trash collection. This could be solved by starting a compost pile in my backyard where I could put the eggshells along with other things such as apple cores and banana peels. This would help reduce landfill ads well as create soil-like compost that could be used for gardening.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t begin collecting my trash until it was Wednesday night and I was taking out the garbage cans to be picked up the next morning by the garbage trucks. Then I realized, that I had to be my own garbage collector for a week and I knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty. To provide some perspective, I live in Fraternity house with 5 otherhouse-mates and host about 5 guests periodically, I see an onslaught of garbage every day produced by these people. However, we take pride in being a resourceful and clean house, so we have numerous recycling cans placed throughout our home. On top of that I managed to convince my house-mates to pile up all our recyclables into one super recycle can in order to both help me on my assignment and save the house some change money. When we turned in our recyclables, I did the math and pitched to the older members that for every 15 set of “thirty-racks” we get one set for free! So now, as house manager, I’ve set up a new policy for the house to save all of our recyclables and to bare witness the fruits of our resourcefulness (and celebratory endeavors) about every month or so. As for my personal garbage, I realized I don’t produce much. Most of the food I purchase is minimally wrapped or packaged and I mostly eat at home in order to save some money. One medium size bag of garbage and two medium size bags of recyclables is what I produce in a week.
Jim Marett: After a week of not throwing anything away I just realized exactly what I already know, I waste alot of resources. My mother was raised on a farm and raised me to not waste a damn thing, however I am not as good as my mother at this conservation of the resources.” You won’t waste much if you don”t have very much, this was my mothers philosophy” . I wish My mom was still around.
I started the morning of Monday, October 10, once I saw the email. Already I was off to a bad start – I had just used an employee meal pass to buy a prepackaged salad and granola bar from Campus Market, complete with plastic utensils and napkins. I work at Jamba Juice in PCV, which despite its claims of health, is not a very healthy nor environmentally conscious place. I’ve always noticed how much we throw away – loads of plastic cups and bowls, rubber gloves every time we directly touch the fruit, empty Tetra Paks. Even this week, I felt removed from responsibility when working there, but now it has become more apparent to me how I am rather actively perpetuating this unsustainability by working there. We have been doing more to be more environmentally conscious there – incorporating a compost program, giving out reusable plastic cups for discounted smoothies, putting out more recycling bins – but of course fast food is not a sustainable business model at its core. Along with working with Campus Dining comes the employee meal passes I mentioned, so I eat on campus a lot. I realized I choose a lot of pre-packaged items, so I’m going to start bringing my own containers to the salad and soup bars. And lastly, at home I received an order from Thrive Market, an LA-based company that sells minimally processed and sustainably harvested bulk foods and packaged snacks at a discount price. The six items I ordered came in a huge box with additional paper packing materials within, taking up more space than the items themselves. Although convenient, I think I’m actually better off waste-wise and financially just using the bulk section at Smart and Final. Consumerism masked as sustainability is still consumerism.
I started collecting my trash on Monday, October 10th. Below are my daily records for the week.
Monday, October 10th: Today was the first day I started to save my trash. While it was at school it was easy, I just had a granola bar wrapper left over from my snack. When I got home things changed. I got home to find that our kitchen had an invasion! A colony of sugar ants decided to make their home in our kitchen. Unfortunately because of this, I was unable to save the trash from my first day. I had to dispose of it into the dumpster that our apartment complex provides.
Tuesday, October 11th: Today was a lot better than yesterday. My roommates and I deep cleaned the kitchen last night and set up some ant traps. I was able to sort out my trash the way I had originally anticipated pre-ant party.
Wednesday, October 12th: Today was extremely busy. I’m a leader in the calving enterprise at the dairy, and we had 6 calves born within 28hrs! Most of my time not spent in class was spent at the dairy with baby cows.
Thursday, October 13th: Today I had another baby cow born, at 4:30am. This meant I splurged and got a Starbucks to keep me awake for my 7am class.
Friday, October 14th: Today was quite uneventful compared to the last two days. However, I’m finding that I have accumulated a lot of items that need to be recycled. I surprisingly (and probably for the best) don’t have a lot of food waste.
Saturday, October 15th: Today was similar to yesterday, not much happening. I did notice a single ant loitering around my “compost” pile. I hope he doesn’t come back with friends.
Sunday, October 16th: Today is the last day of my week collecting my trash. Unfortunately I came home to find that my roommates took my collection out to the dumpster and the recycling bins. Grrr! I was able to photograph some of my collection, but I didn’t get the chance to photograph it all in one picture. 🙁
Conclusion: By collecting my trash I’ve been able to become more aware of my habits. I’ve noticed that I most of my trash is from packaging. Most of my trash is actually recyclable. I’m glad that my apartment complex provides recycling bins for each tenant. However, I do not have access to a compost bin, nor do I have a yard/space to start my own composting area. If the city provided a compost bin I would totally use it.
Top Left: Starting to save my trash & sort recyclables.
Top Right: Adding to my recyclables
Bottom Left: I’m picture with two of my babies born on Wednesday
Bottom Right: My Starbucks waste, and packaging waste from snacks.
Eli Schulman: From my week of not throwing anything away, I realized a lot of my waste is for convenience and could be avoided with a little more effort. Often I will be on campus for 10-12 hours at a time and so I end up getting food at campus market. This creates the obvious waste of the to-go containers and forks. I could take more time to prepare food for the day and bring it in tupperware to avoid this. Additionally, I use a lot of paper towels.. This, again, is an easy fix by getting a hand towel, but thats not something I’ve taken the time to do yet. Theres also simply a lot of waste I produce from how much food I go through. A way that I can reduce this (which I’ve started already) is by not using bags for vegetables I buy. I need to wash them any way, so theres no sense in rapping them and wasting a bag. Overall, this has made me more conscious of every time I do something that would lead to waste. (I had more paper towels and such that aren’t in the picture because they were wet and covered with mold).
I was more frustrated than I expected by this self intervention. As you can tell by my grouping method, I tended to use the trash itself as the containers I carried them around in (between home, studio, class, and work). Thankfully most of my waste is compostable and recyclable, both of which being labels my entire house recognizes and disposes of properly. However, I found that about at least 1/5 is still destined for the general waste cans. And most of this waste is napkin or napkin-esque that was handed to me to deal with little spills and keeping food mess to a minimum. I am considering carrying around a towel or hankey like my late grandpa did. More than anything I was aware of places I had to keep my trash so as to not upset my housemates and classmates as I went about my day. I found myself making little secret trash hiding spots around my places around campus, so I could bike home with a little less inconvenience. I am not proud of this, but it gave me an insight into how I could make modifications to my bike/my porch/my studio desk to accommodate for my footprint. It also humanizes the idea of living on and off of 2.5 acres of land, as some environmentalists propose as a worthy goal. Thinking of the unusable waste I have produced in just a week, I don’t know if I would want to be anywhere within those 2.5 acres that has to hold the trash I have thoughtlessly dealt with over the years.
Being tasked to save all of my waste and trash this past week was more difficult than I had predicted. I create a lot of waste, a lot of which is not pictured here. I compost at my home, so I know where a majority of my food waste is going, and decided to not create a separate bucket to monitor my own compost. I drink a fair amount of tea, and this assignment had me reflecting on how I can consume loose-leaf tea to minimize the packaged products that I purchase. By separating my items into categories, most of what I collected is related to food and beverages. Most importantly, this assignment has created a space to allow the awareness of how much trash is produced through my daily habits, an awareness that allowed sadness to penetrate through me. This sadness may be part of a process to where I am increasingly integrating sustainable ways of living into more of my life.
Harrison Waschura: My main sources of waste have been compostable material (which I feel much better about than, say, a take-out box — yet another reason that eating mostly plants is a good lifestyle choice). My least favorite source of waste is the tetra-pack half-gallon milk container. The last few week’s I’ve been consuming about 1/2 gallon of milk a week, and the milk I like to buy doesn’t come in plastic containers, so I can’t recycle the container, which is frustrating. I may have the opportunity to buy milk in glass jugs which can be reused, so I’ll be looking into that. I try to reuse as much as I can, like big yogurt containers, egg boxes, and produce bags, so this week has highlighted the waste I generate which serves no additional purpose: things like receipts, used tissue paper, and used batteries. It’s that stuff that frustrates me. I started late, so a picture is yet to come. Also I ended up just composting most of my compostables.
Aditi Vepa: I started after class on Monday, October 10. Immediately after I started, I realized how much food waste I generated. Most of my waste came from banana peels, apple cores, and egg shells. However, I also noticed how terrible I was at portion control. As I got better at making just enough food for myself, my waste began to reduce. In addition, I realized how much waste eating out generated. I brought Tupperware to Chipotle and started looking at how much waste came with a burrito- the aluminum foil, paper, and the to go box itself. I also started to notice the packaging of the food I had already bought. Fruits came in plastic bags, milk came in plastic cartons, ect. I think as I continue through life I will definitely try to reduce the amount of plastic bags I use, making the switch to reusable bags and containers was not too difficult. Unfortunately, one of my roommates mistook my bag of waste as trash so I do not have a picture of the amount of waste I produced throughout the week.
Sadly enough (or not sadly), I didn’t really have to think about not throwing stuff out, since I kind of let it accumulate in my room for ages before I clean it out. So looking around my room for trash that has accumulated since last week, I see an empty box for a new fly line, it happens to be a compostable box. I see glass bottles of Hubert’s Lemonade which I have an unhealthy addiction to, my weekly total was 6 bottles. There’s more bottles, there’s one plastic bottle of coconut water and one glass bottle for this ginger drink that is very good. In my kitchen the only thing I’m throwing away is wrappers, which there is a surprising amount of. The single biggest piece of trash however came from my girlfriend who left an empty pizza box in my trash can. Other miscellaneous pieces of trash: 2 lbs of feathers and strings from fly tying, aluminum burrito wrappers, and empty spools of fly line (which I do reuse).
Kalena Hermes: I started Mon, Oct 10. It was very surprising how hard this was. I’m an RA and have Plus Dollars, so I end up eating a lot on campus. It’s frustrating because I had to carry around food cartons or wrappers after eating until I got back to my apartment at the end of the day. Some days I’m gone from my apartment from 8am-11pm, so carrying it around for many hours made me really conscience of how much waste we produce. It’s really quite astounding how much waste we make just by going about our day. I started to carry re-usable utensils and Tupperware with me to reduce my waste. I also would use paper towels a lot to clean my kitchen and such, but noticed how quickly they pile up. I started to use sponges to clean instead. Another thing I noticed I used a lot more than I thought is plastic baggies. The switch to Tupperware was surprisingly easy and fixed that problem. Over all I’m just really shocked at how much waste we produce. It’s honestly pretty atrocious, and I think being aware of it and making little changes can go a long way. (I didn’t know we needed a photo and I threw my stuff away 🙁
Pete Schwartz: Full disclosure – I started yesterday, Friday October 14. Maybe it’s harder for me because I’m essentially living like that the whole time anyway, and because I have a family that I am also accountable for. We put everything in a different place as per recycling, repurposing, composting, and unusable… but likely I’m just making excuses. I’m on it now, trying this time to save every scrap this time to have a greater awareness of what goes through me as a consumer… I’m profoundly inspired by Beth (two entries down), who carried her trash through a half marathon… hard core. In any case, I’ll post my picture next Friday, Oct. 21. On the 16th I write that there is the challenge of boundaries. Where do we stop in terms of what waste is part of living – our breath, or sweat, urine? I took the neighbor’s dog for a walk. He pooped. How do I catalogue this? Probably the best thing to do would have been to bury it under bark next to the trail. However, I put it in a plastic bag (it was soupy.. and warm, so nice to grab) and carried it home. There was a dedicated receptacle for dog poop next to the trail. I could have tossed it in and it would have never really existed? I carried it home. I dumped as much as possible into the compost bin and put the sticky stinky plastic bag in my box of waste for the week… I’m keeping it outside this quarter in order to preserve some domestic tranquility. Then my family… my rule is that if I touch it, it’s mine. So I find myself grabbing stuff my kids leave out and drop it in my box. Compost? Yes, I should put it aside in my box, but I put it in the compost. I’ll include a weeks’ compost for the family in the picture, OK? OK, so below, you see about 1/3 of our compost in the white bucket… I dumped the compost Saturday and by Sunday evening it was already over 140o F. The cardboard box was the shipping container for the plastic fencing that I bought to prevent the bass from eating the other fish in the hot tub. In the cardboard box are my recyclables, and the pile to the right are the trash that I couldn’t find a use for. The small pile of popsicle sticks was for mixing the glue I used to fix my glasses. I put that in the green waste bin.
Sarah Mete: So this intervention happened to come at a very inconvenient time (aka: me finally moving into my condo two months late after the tenants before me flooded the downstairs floor). Therefore, I had a looootttt of boxes and packing tape that I had to throw away, hence the large recycling bin that I filled up quite easily over the weekend. Besides that, I was surprised at the amount of food packaging I found myself throwing away since I haven’t been able to grocery shop a whole lot this week. It definitely made me make time to grocery shop so I could start using my reusable containers again.
Beth: Realized my post never posted…but better late than never! The week I saved trash was interesting to say the least. Most of my trash I was not surprised by. In fact, I thought I would have more trash than I actually did…What did surprise me was the amount of cups I used! That week I ran a half marathon and I saved all of the water cups during the race. The result? 13 cups and counting by the time the race ended! (In other words, a lot of cups). As I was running, I was multiplying that number by the 2000+ racers and I couldn’t believe how much trash half marathons produce! I really hope those cups were compostable…
Ari Burton: This week I attempted not to throw anything away, and by that I mean not send anything to the landfill, however I did recycle, and did compost. Everyday on campus I bring a lunch and snacks from home in a large tupperware, this week instead of throwing out hat was left in the tupperware everyday i put all of the trash back into it. I park my car at the crops unit every day (where I work) and at the end of every day I threw all of the food that I had left into the campus compost bin at the unit. I kept all of the trash that wasn’t recyclable. While at home I did relatively the same. We have two trash cans in our house, one for recyclables, one for landfill trash, and I took a compost bucket from work home and threw all compostable food items into that in the backyard. By the end of the week I have only a small paper grocery bag worth of recycles, a full bucket of compost and very few items to be sent to the landfill. I think what I took most from this experience was how differently my experience at home was from my experience at two of my jobs. I work at the organic farm but also into different restaurants as a waitress. This week made me realize what an extensive amount of trash is accumulated in a restaurant and that none of it is composted and only the large cardboard boxes and glass bottles are recycled. Here I couldn’t exactly not throw anything away as it would’ve made work very complicated, but it really made me realize that we could structure such a better and more effective system to significantly cut down on the amount of waste that comes from the restaurant system.
Kyle Cherry: I do not have a photo of my trash, it started to smell unbearably bad (I live in an apartment with nowhere outside to store it) and threw it away Sunday on my seventh day before coming here and seeing we needed a photo. Between trash and recyclables I had two full fairly large trash bags by the end of the week. To be honest, it was a little less than I expected, but obviously two bags per person per week adds up to a frightening amount of waste over the course of a year or a lifetime. The majority of my trash was food packaging, as I imagine it was for most people. Granola bar wrappers, meat packaging, and milk cartons, etc. added up quickly. I felt bad about my compostable waste (mostly banana peels) that I simply throw away because Mustang Village has no composting. This year my waste production is definitely less than last year because I am bringing lunches to campus in tupperware, as opposed to eating campus dining that comes with plentiful wrappers and packaging, so knowing how much waste I produced this year makes me aware of how much I must have been creating last year as well. The main thing I take away from this experience was seeing how rapidly waste accumulated, and how much of it was avoidable, even if it was something small like a receipt or junk mail. The world is moving in the right direction, with most bills being available online, and Target and other stores charging you to use their bags to provide incentive to use reusable ones. However, we clearly still have a ways to go to minimize our waste production as individuals and as a society.
Lezah Winick: I started Monday October 10th. I forgot to grab a picture of my trash before I threw it away. I was actually surprised with the lack of trash that I produce. I definitely think I was lucky in the week that we picked because I had more time to come home and make meals rather than buying food to go on campus. There was also a 24 hour period where I was fasting for a religious holiday so I didn’t produce any trash that day. The majority of my trash was cheese stick wrappers and Ziploc baggies that since I didn’t throw them away I choose to rinse them out and use them again. Also I had a lot of trash from class work mistakes. I was more conscious when I wrote something on a piece of paper and had to keep it how much paper I was wasting. For my food trash I tended to throw away ends of my meals because it wasn’t enough to save for another meal. I guess a way to stop doing that is make only enough for me to eat or make more than enough to save. I definitely have noticed other weeks where I have used more trash so I guess it is to be consistent and use this week as an example of how to cut down on trash. The use of Tupperware and a reusable water bottle has significantly cut down my trash content. Also if I plan ahead I try to bring something to use at Starbucks instead of using their cups. In my week I did drive to Carmel and back so my air pollution was higher than typical.
Below this line is from Winter 2016, Design
Taylor: As I return to make additions to my intervention post it seems that it has somehow disappeared. . . So i’ll briefly summarize once again: My week began from Oct. 7th and went for the next 7 days. The most interesting thing I discovered through my week of collecting my own garbage was how much compostable organic matter I had been tossing in the trash out of convenience, which I could throw directly back in the soil to be recycled rather than taking up space in a trash center or communal landfill (Things like banana peels, brussel sprout and carrot nubs etc.) Also a surprise to me was how many little plastic baggies I use either from gathering produce from the store, making sandwiches for work, or bringing snacks to school. What I wanted to add on was that I have since purchased cheap reusable tupperware containers for such items in an effort to limit my use of disposable plastic. The week of intervention I went through about 6 plastic baggies, which seemed like a typical week.
Sara N: I started this project on October 5th. I started out strong but forgot around the third day. I started back up the next day, however. During this week I was much more aware of the trash that I would accumulate. I didn’t want to carry around extra trash during the day so this effected the decisions I made about what I would buy. I found myself using a lot more reusable containers to carry food and only taking the amount of food I knew I would be able to finish eating. My main garbage included food packages like granola or food scraps of apples.
Maddi: I stuck with the whole ‘not throwing anything anyway’ initiative pretty closely for the duration of the week. I would bring all my trash accumulated throughout the day home to be divided into my separate trash piles: recyclables, trash, and compost. However there were a few times I slipped up and willing knew I was throwing something away in violation of my initiative but did it anyway primarily for the convenience of not having a dirty dish in my backpack for the entire day, this happened once or twice. However after analysis of what my trash was after 1 week, I am pretty surprised at how little waste I managed to accumulate. The little trash that I did have came from pre-packaged food items or packaging, predominantly tea bags and protein bar wrappers. The majority of my other trash was compostable since I would bring my lunches in tupperware I didn’t have my waste in that regard. I also saved all plastic baggies and wash them out for reuse instead of a one time use item. Overall this has made me more aware of what I am throwing away. Perhaps it has shifted my paradigm to consider a trash can not as a magical place where all waste vanished from the earth but merely a portal where my trash will end up dumped somewhere else on this earth that I am just not reminded of on a daily basis.
Pete: OK, I’m officially started Monday Oct. 5th. I’ve forgotten several times, and now I’ve gone into the trash and pulled out the styrofoam clamshells for this evening’s Thaifood take out. We almost never buy food from a restaurant, but since Neil has started taking piano lessons, Robin brings home Thaifood every Monday. After more than a year, we are overloaded with the little plastic containers, but we throw away the styrofoam that the rice comes in. If my family eats the food, am I responsible for all the waste? So one week later, we can see to the left my recyclables then clockwise you see garbage, plastic bags and compost. I’m lying about the compost because I put most of it in the compost container. I don’t consider this garbage because I put it back in the dirt. However, this isn’t true because it comes with a carbon footprint from the production of food. However, we don’t throw any food away… zero. It all gets biodigested in someone’s stomach. Anyway, boundaries are something to think about. I share a beer with Robin when we cook.. this week it was twice. Should I just keep the bottle just once? I kept it twice. I bought two dozen bagels for an office hour, and I brought all the containers home. They are recyclable. We went to a play and stopped at Bella Mundo, and then I had a beer at the play. I carried the garbage and the empty bottle in my pockets homeward. If you look at the garbage, there’s not much and the gross majority of it was from two instances of take out food. The plastic bags are put in the special plastic bag receptacle at the super market.
I started the intervention on October 1st. I did my best to not throw anything away for the week. I ended up forgetting once and threw a cup away. (For shame me!) I was a bit surprised as to how little trash I actually needed to use, I thought it would be much more. Though most of my waste comes in the form of tea bottles. I would use half as much trash if i just remember to brew tea at home.Food wasn’t much of a problem I tend to only make as much as I eat and I always save leftovers. I managed to keep all my trash in a small box. I think I could still use even less trash just by planning out meals better.
Mitsuyoshi: I started the intervention on October 2nd and have tried not to throw anything away since then (but memory can sometimes go fuzzy on us!). I found that a lot of my trash was from food wrappers that I bring with me through my day. I use reusable containers for my lunches mostly so I was glad not too have too many old food containers laying around in my trash pile. Even though it was mostly smaller items (food wrappers, fruit peels, and some other random small bits of trash) I still saw that it added up over the week. Some of the waste from the week was recyclable so I made sure to get those separated, but it only made up a small percentage of the total. This exercise definitely made me more cognizant of my waste and what I am throwing away. Some of the things thrown out can be recycled and it is important to remember to make the differentiation there. I’m glad to get rid of the garbage that has been piling up in my box here at home but at the same time I feel I am going to try to be better about my trash output where I can.
David: I started on Tuesday, October 6th. To start off, it’s pretty hard for me since I live all the way down on the Mesa past Arroyo Grande so it’s about a half an hour drive away and I eat a lot of banana’s and fruits that I’d rather not have just lying around in my car or in my pocket. But besides that, I also found it hard to remember since just the following day that I started, Kat had to remind me to not throw away my can. Overall though, it does put it in perspective just how much waste each person goes through. The most I was able to go was about 4 days solid without forgetting but I had to try and buy things that don’t come with a lot of waste just so I wouldn’t have to carry it around, like burritos (which I enjoy anyway).
Neelima: I started this self intervention on October 5th after Pete reminded us in class. To be perfectly honest, I did not keep some of my trash like the compostable material because we have an ant problem in our apartment and I didn’t want it to get worse. However, I became very conscious of what I was wasting. For example, on October 6th, I made myself too much pasta and normally I don’t save the leftovers I just toss them in the trash, but I consciously realized how much food I was wasting by doing this. So I put it in a reusable box to eat for later. I have always been good about recycling so I just put all of my recyclable items in a big amazon box that I had laying around in my room. Since I use a reusable water bottle and tend not to drink any other type of fluids, and didn’t receive any packages, the box has been relatively empty. Today, October 11th is the last day of this intervention and I think this experiment has made a difference in how I view waste. Especially with the food waste, I am going to try and be better with not throwing away perfectly good food that could be eaten at a different time.
Vanessa: I started Sunday Oct. 4th. I was trying to separate landfill, recycle, and compost but then I realized I don’t really use compost. I accidentally threw away a banana peel, yogurt container, plastic fork, and two paper towels the first two days. I use a lot of reusable containers and water bottles so I really didn’t feel that I was producing too much waste. I even reuse ziploc bags that I keep my trailmix in until they’re really old looking. I work in an office job at Cal Poly where a lot of confidential information is present so unfortunately, I could not keep those documents but, I definitely have a lot of post-its. I keep my waste outside in my small yard to keep the smell out of the house. I eat a fruit and eggs just about everyday. I carry a plastic bag with a small ziploc bag to store smelly food after I am finished with it (mostly banana peels and strawberry stems).
Haley: Technically starting today on October 9th due to my truly atrocious memory(I realize now I should have written myself reminder Post-It notes everywhere). However, reflecting on my trash use in the last week I realize I have had very minimal output. My main garbage includes food packaging like dried fruit and nut bags and compost scraps. But now the real test begins, collecting it all. All systems go!
Jennifer: I started on Monday, October 5th. I would say I was not so successful with this task. On Tuesday, I threw a little party at my apartment and ended up with a lot of trash. Since it was my party, I felt responsible for all the trash. From that one night, I have collected three pizza boxes, many boxes filled with glass bottles, and a pile of other trash. Also, while at school, I have collected some small plastic wrappers from my snacks and many Starbucks iced cups because I love my coffee. I do cook many meals at home and have kept the little food waste in a closed bin. I do use a reusable water bottle and plastic tubs for lunch, so I save a little that way. As of right now, I have a lot of trash to go through. Update: To finish off my week of not throwing anything away, I threw it all out after I wrote it all down. I had to get the pizza boxes, milk carton, and brown bananas out of my house because they were smelly. However, I have become more aware of the trash I produce and will work towards producing less trash.
Kat: I’ve been using reusable items the last couple years – water bottle, coffee bottle, and lunch box, so I am not carrying trash with me. However, I do cook on the daily basic, and my apartment starts to fill with rotten veggie smell. I wonder how people live next to the dumpster, yet I am worried that the rotten smell is penetrating to my clothes.
Ted Swartzbaugh: I officially started on Oct. 1st and so far it’s been hit or miss on how often I remember to bring my trash with me. Often times if it’s just a sandwich bag but when I’m at a restaurant with friends (for example) I find it hard to remember to bring my trash with me. I will attempt to be more on top of this because it is definitely an eye opener to see how much waste I have made so far. At the end of my collection (Oct.10th) I was definitely starting to annoy my roommates with the pile in the garage and the overall smell of my rotting food. I didn’t take a picture before I cleaned it all up that Friday night (it was an ultimatum from the house) but I can assure you I filled up my entire trashcan and recycling bins. That week I had a little more trash than normal but to really see the extent of how much litter I made in one week is crazy to think about. What really amazed me was how much more waste I had from eating out (boxes and wrappings) then when I ate at home instead.
Violet Tylock: It’s 6:00am on Wednesday, October 7th and I am beginning now. I continued to try and keep my trash. I found that I only really compile little things like wrappers to Nature Valley Bars and after napkins. I found I kept struggling to keep my trash because of my own personal OCD with health. I kept going for about 4 days and after that I couldnt handle the mess. I tried putting my egg shells inside other trash but I didnt have anything reliable to put it in.
Ryan Hodgens: I started at 2:16 on Monday, October 5th.
10/7/15 Update at 11PM: 100% forgot about this until just now. Restarting now.
10/9/15 11AM update: Things are starting to pile up. I hung up a trash bag in my closet to keep the smell and trash away from my roommates. I really hope that it doesn’t permeate into my clothes though… I forgot a late night Starbucks cup last night unfortunately. Things are going decently though. I realized I eat a lot of canned foods right now cause they’re cheap.
10/12/15 8AM update: Five days now. I have quite a bit of trash now but know for a fact that I have not collected it all. There have been a few cases where a roommate throws some of my trash away (buncha jerks), I have forgotten to do so, and have been out of the house where it slipped my mind. I’d say I have collected about 80% of the trash though. However, some of the food I threw away last week is starting to smell. The end is near. Although there’s only two days left, I want to remember this assignment and hopefully take more sustainable measures in the future. I realized that in this type of consumeristic society though it is exceptionally difficult because of the immense amount of packaging for every little thing that there is. Below is a picture of my trash for the week. I sorted the trash out into plastics, papers, glass, and cans/containers. All of this weighed about 10 pounds which means in a typical year I use 520 pounds of trash. I would say I am at least a little close to the average consumer in terms of waste and so multiplying that by the 300+ million Americans in the country to figure out the total waste in a year is astounding. I really think there has to be a better way to handle trash. Can we look at other countries and see how we can improve our system by perhaps applying their methods? Are there better methods? How can we combat the mountains of trash that we’re creating?
Caleb Ostgaard: I’m starting now. It’s 8:00am on Sunday, October 4th.
It’s Tuesday, October 7th and I’ve already had some realizations. I did forget my chopsticks from sushi yesterday, but other than that I have been doing good. I came into this thinking that my pile would be really huge, but I think that that thought alone saved me. My pile is way smaller than I thought. I have been getting creative with it. The fact that I have all this trash right in front of me, or at least on my mind, challenges me to use the trash again. It’s pretty cool having a full bag of containers I can get creative with. Today I used the plastic box that my tomatoes came in as a container for chips. This project has also affected my decisions at get togethers and potlucks, because it forces me to decide whether I want to take that paper plate or just hold the hot dog in my hand.
It’s Sunday, October 11th, and it has officially been a week. I’m pretty thankful for this project because it forced me to get creative with a few things. When I was at a social gathering, I decided to hold my food instead of using a paper plate or napkin. I thought more about the waste I would be creating by simply choosing differently. I’ll admit, when I ate out, I did forget to grab a couple of the items that I should have taken home.
It’s also hard to think about which waste I should take the blame for and which waste I shouldn’t. I work in the food industry, one of the biggest contributors to waste in our society. At Starbucks, I constantly am throwing away milk cartons, syrup bottles, plastic wrap, heating papers, and things along those line. As a customer, should you be fully aware of what waste will be created when ordering food or a drink? Or should the full blame be taken on the preparer of the food, who can consciously make decisions about what to reuse and what to throw away. It’s middle grey zones like these that no one takes the blame for that I believe cause the most waste. It’s also hard to take action on situations like this, since it’s not out in the open, and no one is forced to see it.
Ultimately, we know we have a waste problem. There’s two things that can completely affect the way we continue to waste:
1. Decisions of what we choose to use that will turn into waste in the first place. This involves choosing whether or not to buy products with less packaging, choosing to buy more in bulk, and so on.
2. The choices we make on how we choose to manage and reuse the waste we’ve already “committed” to. Society views things as plastic bags and other packing as non-reusable waste, but is it really? Accumulate jars, packaging, bags, and then reuse them. It’s simple, but it takes reevaluating the way we view our own waste.
Here’s a picture of my waste of the week (I should have separated it out to show, but I didn’t think about this when I took the picture.)
Edward Charles : I’m starting now, its 11:35 Am on October 2nd
I just finished the week. I am writing this on October 11th. the biggest change that I made, is that I started to only eat at home. This meant that I didn’t have to carry around the trash during the day. If I ate at home I would never have to carry around wrappers. This then meant that I would wake up a half hour earlier so I could eat a large breakfast, and then rush back during my hour class break around dinner time to eat another huge meal. If I’m being honest my roommates did take out the trash middle of the week, however, because we keep our recycling separate from our trash that did last through out the week. I drink out of plastic water bottles during a normal week, but about half way through the week I started to carry around a reusable bottle because the box we use for our recycling was full. It was a interesting experience but I’m happy its over because I like to carry around snacks, and I can go back to carrying around small bags of chips.
Amber: I’m starting right now! 9-30, at 2:00 PM. Update: During the first few days of the exercise, I wrote down everything I threw away and noticed that I didn’t accumulate much. I only threw away a few things each day (most of it was stuff like teabags, fruit rinds and soiled paper products). I recycle most of my waste (I would say half, if not more), but noticed there was a lot I could compost, which is something I don’t necessarily have access to anymore that I’ve moved to an apartment. Over the weekend I had family visit, and the amount of trash accumulated from eating out, ect. was overwhelming. Overall, a large majority of my waste was paper towels I used after washing my hands because of the constant hand-washing in a food environment.
Cameron Montalvo: It’s 11:30am on Wednesday, October 7th and I am beginning to pile up all of my trash now. I ended up composting a lot of it but there is a lot of material to reflect on.
Robert Gray: I started collecting my waist after our Wednesday class on October 5. I realized most of my waist comes from food and food packaging. I was happy with how little I threw away in the day other than doing cooking activities. One thing that really caught my attention was all the micro trash that I create. Everything from candy wrappers to napkins can really accumulate in a day. The food packaging would sometimes be to dirty to keep so I’d end up throwing them away. Once the weekend came around I was much more unsuccessful at holding on to the trash and eventually gave up. I also learned that I tend to create more waste on the weekends. This helped me put into perspective how much waste solely I create.
Cody Lathouwers: I started this experiment on Monday, October 5th and it has been easy so far. My trash is defiantly beginning to pile up at my house and in my backpack. I have had to cheat a little. For example, I have had to throw away a lot of of trash while at working at a bar. It would be a little difficult to try to convince my boss not to throw away anything, but I am working on that. Lets just hope my room does not start to smell. This has been a trip though. I imagine this will be quite the eye opener.
Seth Neumann: I started the experiment October 6th (Tuesday). It has definitely been a challenge for me as I did not realize how much I actually throw away! One of the reasons is I tend to do a lot of take-out as I don’t really have time to cook, and keeping most of the waste has been an eye opener for myself. There were some things that I simply needed to throw out (things with dairy waste on it) but I will probably be more concerned now about all the waste that I generate, maybe even start to cook now!
Sarah Rayburn: It is October 13th, 11:24pm and I am starting now. It is October 20th and looking at all of my trash, I realize that it is mostly trash from toiletries or some sort of food container/wrapper. I had to break the rules a little bit because I am a waitress and I can’t exactly keep all my trash while I am working. I kept forgetting to not throw my trash away, so I compromised and starting throwing everything away in my bedroom trash that way I could at least have all of my trash in one place to look at after the week was over. I came to the realization that I eat out a lot which is sort of a let down so I will make a mental note to try and be better about cooking at home.I will probably save a lot of money that way anyways.
Kelsey Haberly: It’s October 18th, and after forgetting numerous times to keep all of my trash, I have finally completed a week. I never realized how hard it would be to keep every little piece of trash I create, and how mindless of an action throwing something away has become for me and probably most of society. One of the hardest parts was to remember to keep even my little gum wrappers and granola bar wrappers that I usually eat during my classes. Overall, the majority of my waste was wrappers from various snacks, yogurt cup containers, banana peels, and gatorade bottles. However my house has been fighting a huge ant problem so there was a lot of paper towel usage in trying to clean up raid that had been sprayed along the windows and cracks, so that was a big part of my trash pile as well. But aside from my forgetful mind, this experiment definitely made me think about how easily I throw things away without even giving it a second thought, and how fortunate I am to not have to deal with my trash once it is in its receptacle.
Kate Belotti: Started on Oct. 22. So far (Oct.25) it has been a lot of sandwich papers, which makes sense because I work at a deli. There is also a fair share of Starbucks cups (not ashamed). Most of my trash is recyclable, which made me realize that I have never been sure if you can recycle containers with food on it. Growing up my parents always rinsed things that we recycled, but if I’m on campus I don’t get a chance to. Currently, I recycle anything that could be recycled and hope the system weeds out what isn’t recyclable, but I should investigate that idea better. Besides that I have very little compost waste and a little bit of regular trash. In other news my roommate things the trash bag sitting on our floor is a bit odd, but doesn’t mind unless it stars smelling.
After completing this one week challenge the largest take away I found was that before this experiment I didn’t put a lot of thought into trash and the resources I was using. Now, being more aware I found that I could replace multiple sandwich baggies I used for snacks with tupperware and could have eaten more meals at home on dishes than buying food and taking it to go. All in all, I thought it was a unique experience and luckily did not cause any issues with my roommate.
Frankie Lara: Forgot to log back when I started not throwing things away during the week of 10/19. This intervention only lasted up to the fourth day for me. I was going strong for the first few days, but by the fourth day, I had accumulated a lot of garbage and began forgetting to not throw things away. My waste consisted mostly of used paper towels, plastic bags, & plastic food wrappers. I have been put into perspective just how much waste one person can accumulate in just a matter of a few days. We go through so many items daily that we just dispose of after we’re through using it, and where does it all go?
Loren Dean: I started on October 21 and forgot to document my experience. My experiment only lasted about three days because I forgot about it. I picked it up again the on October 25 and that only lasted about two days. I found it was really hard because I bring food to school or buy snacks on campus so I would just be carrying around trash or would have trash in my backpack. I also had a pile at home but my roommate threw it away and said that I needed to pull it together (I’m the messy roommate). My trash consisted of paper towels, food wrappers, Starbucks cups, and like pasta boxes. After completing this I realized that all the snacks you buy have so much wasteful packaging and for coffee I should get a refillable cup.
Meagan Redstone: Can I just say wow? I have always been conscientious of waste and throwing away as little as possible, but this week stretched me to my limit. First, I already prepare all of my meals at home in reusable containers, bring my own water with me in a thermal container, and reuse zip-lock baggies whenever possible. But, my largest waste was paper towels (and toilet paper of course). They are EVERYWHERE! Every bathroom on campus is lacking a hand dryer, and I am forced to use a paper towel to dry my hands every time I wash my hands, that is if I don’t want to wipe them on my jeans. At home I use hand towels, which I replace every 3-5 days. My second most wasteful item is food waste. Sometimes I can’t finish a meal and whatever is left gets thrown away. We do use a food waste bin at home, but a majority of my food waste gets dumped on campus. I did find myself working extra hard this week to create as little waste as possible, but I couldn’t stand to keep my stinky food waste with me the entire week, nor could I bring it upon myself to keep all those paper towels used on campus stuffed in my backpack while I lugged around campus. This weeks challenge has definitely made me think twice about the things I throw away.
Below is from Fall 2014
Pete: So we go to Farmer’s Market and we eat a bunch of stuff including roasted corn on the cob. We come away with loads of trash, recyclables and compost. I imagine it looks a little funny among all the garbage cans, I pack it into my backpack to ride home and fill the compost bucket, recyclable, and the trash. Plastic forks in the drawer.
Julie: When doing this project and holding on to these things, I kept finding other uses for things. I found myself rather determined to reuse the recyclables and the trash. I had recently gotten a box of Caprisun Juices. I know I’ve seen people turn them into things like pencil pouches, so instead of just throwing them away I found myself looking into how I might do that. I’m also thinking of finding a way to start composing now.
Shelby: (I caved and stopped collecting things after Thursday) I found myself more conscious about using disposable utensils and paper ware. I started choosing to use re-useable things instead, and determined that if I had access to a composting unit, my trash would be pretty minimal. It’s also made me frustrated with packing, because it uses materials inefficiently with respect to what happens after their use has been exhausted.
Nasim: This self-intervention was definitely a frustrating endeavor as I found myself become a lot more self-aware of how much trash I produce. For example, I realized how much I visit Starbucks as I had three cups sitting on the counter at home within four days. So, I washed those cups and I reuse them – they are fairly durable so this is easy to do. Now they are sitting in the cabinet instead of in a landfill! I tried to find different uses for my garbage as most of it, besides cups and cans, are sitting in a bag right now. I will probably search on the Internet to see what projects/uses can be done with the things I have thrown away.
Yenny: I’m on campus for the most of the day and can’t carry much around with me but I kept track of plastic containers and coffee cups I would throw away. Within two days, I threw away 3 large plastic containers, and 5 coffee cups.This all came from buying food/drinks on campus. By the end of the second day I felt guilty buying my lunch knowing that the plastic container I used would only serve its purpose for a short period and then be tossed. I’ve started wondering if Cal Poly dining can offer the option of using your own food containers when buying food.
Gabriela Gomez: After a weeks worth of trash pile at my place I have come to realize that we produce tons of waste. Like when you buy something new, you take the tags off, the receipts get thrown away, plastic packaging, the whole nine yards. I noticed that many things could be recycled. I also noticed that I should be eating my leftovers as soon as I can.I think if everyone pitched in and recycled, made some type of effort to compost, and try to eat food that they have leftover, before it rots; it will lead to a decrease in waste.
John: After 1 week, looking at what I have to throw out, over 90 % is packaging waste. Plastic wrappers, plastic bags, plastic milk jugs, cardboard boxes. Only a littlw bit of was compostable food waste; some banana peels, squash skins, egg shells, and corn cobs. The bathrooms were a little different. Mostly kleenex tissue. Maybe I will use a handkerchief for a while as a self-intervention. See how it affects me.
Ande: I went backpacking for a few days of this week-long intervention, and it was really interesting to be in a setting where we had no choice but to hold onto our trash until the trip was over. Everyone on the trip was pretty outdoorsy and seemed extremely conscious of the waste they produce; people had chosen to bring food items that were minimally packaged and/or produced minimal waste. Additionally, everyone was constantly working to not let anything go to waste–all meals were finished, snacks were shared until they were gone, etc. Being aware of the trash we produce had definitely brought out the best in these people, and I know we were all pretty proud to only have brought home a few Ziplocs full of wrappers–if only it could be like that in everyday life!
Tiffany: After only a few days of collecting my trash, I quickly realized that I needed to change a few things. I often find myself grabbing a plastic water bottle as I walk out the door instead of taking the time to fill up a reusable bottle. So, as a result, I had so many plastic bottles by the end of the week. Sometimes I slack off when it comes to recycling them. After seeing all of the accumulated bottles, I will definitely try to use a refillable bottle more often and recycle the plastic ones more frequently.
Megan: I was surprised that I did not actually accumulate a HUGE amount of trash, but I did find myself going out of my way to not have more trash than I needed to. For example, if there were no electric hand dryers in bathrooms, I refused to take a paper towel. The air can dry my hands just as well. Also I would throw my apple cores and other food scraps into my yard to decompose or be eaten by birds because I didn’t want it sitting in my house stinking up the place. Such a valuable experience this was!!
Cara: This assignment was a lot harder and a lot less fun than I first anticipated. Though the volume of trash I collected in a week was a lot less than I had anticipated, I believe it is in part due to the fact that I was actively trying to minimize the amount I produced so that I did not have to carry it around. For example, I bought some juice in a plastic bottle. I would normally have recycled it without a second thought and probably bought another just like it the next day. Instead, I reused that plastic bottle and filled it with water for the entire week so that I did not have to add it to my trash pile right away. There was also trash that I did not collect due to sanitation such as toilet paper, or waste from the vet clinic while working. However, in a third world nation, this waste would still need to be handled. When they wipe after using the restroom, they typically don’t have the luxury of watching their excrement and the toilet paper vanish right before their eyes. Not only did this project make me more aware of the types and amount of trash I produce, but it also made me appreciate having large scale septic systems and waste retrieval systems within our infrastructure.
William: I noticed from not throwing anything away for 4 days (I was unable to make it a full week due to an organized strike from my mortal enemies the ants) that I used a lot of paper towels. I found that most surprising. I knew that I was going to have the “normal” garbage like cans and plastic but amount of paper towels I stockpiled was eye opening. From this intervention I’ve learned that I need to use regular towels more often to cut back on the amount of garbage I am responsible for.
Rose Petros: I didn’t keep my trash, but I did make a conscious note on what I was consuming and throwing away. I noticed that I use a lot of sandwich bags, because I bring a sack lunch to work/school every day. I now am trying to use less plastic sandwich bags by reusing them. Also, I work stock at a big clothing company downtown. Oh my goodness. This company uses a lot of plastic, because everything comes wrapped in it, which is taken off before the item is placed on the sales floor. So, in a way everyone who clothing shops contributes to a lot of plastic waste without even realizing it!! I’m kinda saddened by this!!
Megan Snyder: While I did not truly participate in this intervention, I was a lot more conscious of what I was throwing away. I noticed that I tended to throw out the most after lunch, since I rarely plan ahead and bring my lunch with me. I also noticed that most my waste comes from food packaging. It has made me realize that I want to reduce my waste and have found stories of people and families who have gone zero waste. This is something I plan on trying to achieve.
Perri Berman: I stuck with collecting my trash for the first day and then I had too many hours at work and decided I didn’t have time to keep up with it. I did become more aware of how much I throw away, which was a valuable experience. It made me realize how much food I get but do not eat and how I should waste less. I also realized how much food is wasted at work but the food cannot be donated because of the food has sat out too long to be donated. After this small intervention, I packed more things in tupperware and rarely used plastic bags for snacks.
Quinn Hildebrand: I started this on Monday October 5th and just finished today, Monday October 12th. This definitely gave me a look at something I’ve never really thought about– I recycle so I figured that was enough. However this week I realized that much of my waste was unnecessary. For example, I use a lot of small things everyday, mostly paper products. Paper towels, makeup wipes, Lysol wipes, lot of cleaning things. I switched to things like sponges, and wash clothes though so by Thursday I was making less paper waste. I also get coffee or tea a lot through out the day and use too many of those disposable cups. I bought a reusable mug and even get a discount at some coffee places for having it 🙂 I made a lot of easy, small, changes like this to reduce the things I threw away. I’m also happy to say I had no food waste at all.
Ricard Lopez: I have collected my trash starting October 9th, just finished today on October 16th. This was quite difficult though it was not shocking how much trash I had accumulated over the last 7 days. I was able hold onto everything that qualified as trash except when I was at work, I often dump plants, soil and trash and there would have been way too much to take home. The most difficult part was actually remembering to not throwing things away, many times I would toss something in the trash out of habit and then realize what I had done. Another thing that became difficult was cooking, I almost always cook from scratch and this forced me to get creative with the “food waste”. Normally I would have just composted all the food scraps. I also became much more conscious of what I was purchasing, I strayed away from things with a lot of packaging. This also encouraged me to cook using just fresh veggies and produce. The most ridiculous thing that I collected was definitely the coffee cups, 1 day without fail. I need to start bringing my own cup to the coffee shop. Below you can see a box that has of all my compostable food waste (in the bag) and kitchen related waste, also my paper coffee cups and some pre-made food packaging.
Mary Dundon: I originally started on Thursday, October 1st but my roommate’s boyfriend kindly took out all of our trash on Sunday, October 4th. So I restarted on Monday, October 5th. Below I have a picture of what I collected. I just moved in a few weeks ago so I had several packages come in the past week, which contributed quite a bit of cardboard waste. The large cardboard box is filled with recyclable packaging material – thankfully most companies have ditched styrofoam peanuts. I do most of my grocery shopping in bulk, so it’s rare for me to have much food packaging on a regular basis. I empty pasta, rice and nuts/seeds into jars or other containers on the day I do all of my grocery shopping. I often have plastic and glass bottles, as well as cans, especially after the weekend. The only actual trash I have is in the small cardboard box in the middle which mostly consists of paper towels used for cleaning and some other, non recyclable packaging material. I have no food waste this week as I am keen on leftovers, as is my roommate and our boyfriends.
Nicole Petersen: After saving my trash for a week I realized that the majority of my waste consisted of food and paper towels. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t compost any of my food waste and I ended up throwing it all in the trash. The reason why I had so much food waste was because I had bought too much produce the week before and it ended up going bad before I could eat all of it. Even if I produced more food waste than normal for this week, my result made me painfully aware whenever I was throwing any food away. I felt guilty every time I threw food away because I realized that it was waste that could be composted if I put more effort in. Doing this intervention has made me seriously consider starting a compost at my house in SLO. This intervention also made me realize how many paper towels I use. Now that I’m aware of this habit I’ve realized that the majority of the time I use paper towels its for trivial reasons. Most of the time I’m just wiping my hands off after doing dishes or cooking meals. I do this because I don’t trust the cleanliness of the communal dish towels my roommates and I keep in our kitchen; because of this, I prefer to use paper towels to wipe my hands rather than using the questionable dish towels. After I realized my bad paper towel habit, I started reusing the paper towels that I had only used to wipe water off of my hands. I would let these paper towels dry so that I could use them again later on. Another large component of my waste was to-go boxes from eating at restaurants. During this intervention week I went out to eat twice and noticed that after eating out, the amount of trash I had accumulated for the week rapidly increased. This is because I always take home leftovers for later, but this also means extra waste is generated from the to-go boxes, napkins, sauce containers, and plastic utensils that are used when taking food to-go. I rarely go out to eat but it was my friend’s birthday this week and so we went out multiple times. I knew that we generate more waste when we eat out but I was surprised by how much and how rapidly it increased the amount of waste that I generated for the week.
After my last few days of savings trash it was quite interesting to see the amount trash I am accumulating. I expected most of my waste to be food related, however I have been trying to budget my money so all my meals are grocery bought in bulk. I also normally drink water during my meals so there is no trash involved there. My makeup remover each night was a small, yet consistent form of trash that adds up.
However, this weekend was my roommates birthday so we had a party at our house and I am ashamed to post how much trash we had after that night. There was an insane amount of cups and beer cars. In regards to the red solo cups, we did wash them and plan to re use them so they have not been thrown out yet. I canont say the same for the beer cans. I’m thinking for the next birthday if we want alcohol that a reusable keg may be the way to go?
I also noticed I use a lot of napkins while I eat and paper towels for cleaning around the kitchen. Obviously I can stick to a rag or cloth towel for future messes. (p.s. I already threw everything before realizing we were taking pictures)
My experience after a going a week without throwing anything away was eye-opening. I couldn’t even count in things that my roommates threw away or that I simply had to get rid of while on campus. This is an image of things that I collected in my room for a week during this self-intervention. I hate to think of how much trash we go through on a daily basis. If this is how much trash just one person accumulates, how much does that add up over time? And what about businesses and industries that throw things away on an even greater scale? I think that if everyone had to keep their own trash in their own backyard, people would be a lot more frugal when it came to buying and using plastic materials. I have always been into recycling, but even that requires energy to produce the original plastic then turn it into something else. Overall, this experience was good. I used to work at a small business selling seashells and each individual shell would come packaged in many different layers of paper and plastic to ensure that it would be safe. I would often save the paper and plastic that was being thrown away at my job and recycle it at home. This just reminds me of that experience.
I saved a trash bag full of things that wouldn’t stink up my small apartment. I noticed that I use a lot of packaged material including some paper plates and bottles and cups. Most of my trash was paper towels, paper plates, and scrap parts of fruits and vegetables. I cook a lot and couldn’t save the scraps but I would think about how much I was throwing away that could be composted. Other than paper goods, I got boxes from online deliveries, canned goods, bottles, and what ever food I would bring back to the house. It was eye-opening to see how many packaged goods I use. I want to try to use less packaged materials.
Starting last Monday after class at about 4 p.m. I stopped throwing my trash away. I put it aside in my trashcan in my room and eventually had to move it downstairs in to a corner because it started to smell. I produced a little over a can full. There’s more food scraps and wrappers at the bottom, but it was a lot less than I had thought I would produce. To put this in perspective, after one week while I had about a can, well after a year I would have over 50. Since I am on campus most of the day, the majority of my food goes in to containers and I eat off of regular ceramic plates, instead of paper like some of my friends, contributing to a less amount of waste. I try not to throw food away because I don’t like wasting and or using an excessive amount of plastic bags for meals is unnecessary. I realized that even though it is not that much physical waste, it is still wasteful because I do not have a use for these items. I compost at home but not while I am here at school so all the peels and fruit scraps go in to the landfill and the papers I don’t use, or drafts of notes get thrown away as well because I do not know what else I would do with them. I took the cardboard and paper out and recycled that obviously but the rest of the wrappers an d scraps of fruit will go in to the trash because I don’t have a use for it. Also sorry the picture is so big, I couldn’t figure out how to make it smaller.
From January 23rd to January 30th, I saved all my trash. Unintentionally and immediately, I began throwing less away. Being aware of how much trash I was usually throwing away (as well as having the inconvenience of carrying it around) made me be much more conservative about the things I’d use. When I spilled some water in the library, I tried to grab the exact amount of paper towels I needed instead of grabbing extra towels to ensure a single trip (although a reusable option would be even better). I also realized that so many items are handed out by food services that are meant to be directly thrown away after and that it might be worthwhile to bring your own containers or ask them to not use their disposables. I think I learned a lot about my waste output and that everyone could learn from this activity as well. Having an idea of how much we throw away is an important step to lessening it.
After saving all my trash for one week I produced 2 and ~1/5 bags + a few pieces of cardboard for recycling. At this rate, a year of my trash production would be enough to fill my entire room from floor to ceiling, which is terrifying. I mostly eat on campus so most of my trash came from food wrappers and takeout containers. I probably created much more trash than I personally collected due to my share of the trash created by the various on campus restaurants at which I ate. This made me think about our indirect trash output. Every item we purchase creates trash by product from its manufacture whether it be a sandwich or a car. The trash we collect for this intervention is probably only a tiny fraction of the waste we truly responsible for.