We all know what trash is like- ugly, smelly, and dirty. So why on earth would I chose to carry it around with me for a day?
The minute we dump garbage into a trashcan, we are helping to creating a physical landfill. Out of sight, out of mind, right? This doesn’t have to be the case.
By carrying around my garbage for a day, I hoped to become more conscious of my waste habits. Follow along with my journal entries to discover just what exactly we throw into the can and where that trash can go.
7:30am: First things first, I need to find my mobile trash can. Luckily I’m able to put this grocery bag into reuse.
8:30am: I just created my first waste for the day. The remnants of breakfast- a banana peel and yogurt container!
9:00am: So I realized the banana peel smells, and I get to carry around that with me too. Cool.
12:50pm: After eating a salad for lunch, I now have my second source of waste for the day. I wasn’t hungry enough to finish the whole thing, so I have now added a plastic take-out box and soggy lettuce leaves to the bin.
2:15pm: Someone just asked me why I’m carrying around an old banana, as they preceded to crinkle their nose in my general direction. Looks like I’ve become a trash can too.
4:10pm: Documenting my most recent trash update. I did a little bit of cleaning in my pantry, so an old cereal box and two granola bar boxes are now being carried with me.
4:45pm: Went to Sugarland and got gelato, so a small plastic bowl and spoon is added to my bag. I actually accidentally tossed this into the trash can, so fishing it back out got me a few weird looks. I never realized that throwing trash away is such compulsive behavior. We really don’t give our waste habits a second thought
6:30pm: I was starving for dinner, so no food waste here. Luckily the restaurant will be washing their bowl, cup, and silverware for reuse. Unfortunately they did print a receipt, so that was added to the bag.
9:00pm: Status update- just finished off a gallon of lemonade!
11:15pm: Just did some homework, so I’ve added old scrap paper and a mechanical pencil. I’ve concluded that this should be all of the trash I will be generating for the day. At least I hope so, otherwise I might need another bag soon. Let’s see how this breaks down:
The best way to manage trash is as follows: reduce, reuse, recycle or compost, create energy, and finally, landfill.
When considering their own habits, consumers should recognize that reducing consumption is the best way to manage their waste. Landfilling should be the last possible option consumers should consider.
The first pile to the far left includes materials that should be sorted and composted- the banana peel, salad, and organic nut bar. The salad container should then be recycled, and the bar’s packaging sent to the second pile.
This second pile includes trash that can be used in a waste-to-energy facility- old paper, bags, etc. However, this trash would first be sorted by the facility. They would ensure no harmful plastics and other materials that would create unsafe air pollution are used in generation.
The final pile includes broken down cardboard boxes, a gallon jug, yogurt container, and magazine. These items should be recycled so their materials can be put into further use.