Monday, September 24, 2007

Data Crunching w/ Trash

Beth from Fake Plastic Fish has encouraged me to join the Tess' Trash Challenge from American Public Media. I had been debating on whether to join this trash challenge for a couple of days, but with a little prodding, I decided to participate. I guess I figured this really wouldn't be a challenge for me; I already compost my food waste, reuse items regularly, and recycle like a fiend. I know I'm beating the national average when it comes to generating waste. (Each day, a person generates about 4.5-6 lbs of trash.)

But maybe I'm being overly confident about my trash collection. (This is me playing Devil's Advocate with myself--gosh, am I my own worst critic or what?) Besides, I reasoned, I love statistics. So why not track how much trash I generate? I've decided to collect my garbage data for exactly one week, starting today. So far, I've used three paper towels and one coffee stirrer. (I may actually hang on to that coffee stirrer for later use. Lord knows I need the coffee!)

So let's see what'll happen this week as I become more cognizant of my trash--yah, here's the catch: As part of the challenge, you're supposed to carry your trash with you throughout the day. I've stowed my garbage in a compostable bag, which you can see in the photo. Now I'm no goody-two shoes...because I'm throwing away items that will end up in the landfill, including that bag, there's no chance for that bag to decompose. (Landfills lack sufficient oxygen for biodegration, so I might have well have used a plastic bag.)

3 comments:

Dan Myers said...

Good challenge. I was thinking of doing something like this for Peace Blog. But, I'm not sure what to do about the indirect garbage--for example, I might buy a bottle of water and recycle the bottle, but the store might be throwing away the box the bottles came in, and then what about all the waste at the factory that made the bottle, etc. It gets overwhelming pretty quickly. Which is why I haven't started on this thing for Peace Blog yet.....

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank said...

Hi Dan. The rules of this specific Trash Challenge state that you only have to tally your own trash. That should be enough for anyone getting started. We can overthink this to the point of inaction, and that doesn't help anybody.

Michelle, I look forward to seeing your results!

Meghan said...

Think of carrying a small spoon or something like it with you instead of using a coffee stirrer. I found it to be quite the simple substitute. I work in an office, so I get my goods & head back to my desk to stir. But I'd think you could also tuck one in a litter free pocket of your purse. I just rinse it after I'm done stirring - usually coffee is around some water source. Just an idea.