Tag Archives: garbage

No Impact Experiment: Trash

Today’s challenge was to stop making trash. This is, as you might be able to guess, WAY easier said than done.

Yesterday we collected the day’s recycleables, food waste, and garbage in one container in the kitchen. The first step in today’s challenge was examining what we’d collected. Here’s what we had:

  • 2 recyclable take-out food containers
  • small paper bag of food waste
  • 3 used kleenex tissues
  • frozen pea bag
  • string cheese wrapper
  • plastic lid (too small to be recyclable in Seattle)
  • dryer lint
  • 2 dryer sheets
  • 3 disposable diapers
The second step was to sort the pile into things we’d used for more than 10 minutes and things we’d used for under 10 minutes. This proved difficult as I wasn’t sure how to classify most of the items (how long did I “use” the dryer lint, for example), so we made a different observation altogether: our pile consisted of almost entirely food-related waste. We decided we didn’t feel too bad about that – we have to eat, right? And most of our food waste was compostable and consisted of things like banana peels, onion skins, and mango pits (as opposed to wasteful food waste like half-eaten sandwiches or the remnants of leftovers allowed to mold in the fridge). But a few were those difficult to get away from bits of plastic, like the string cheese wrapper, which led to Bug’s epiphany: “But… we don’t have a choice! You can’t buy string cheese without a plastic wrapper. No fair!”
Step three: put together a no waste travel kit with things like reusable water bottles, utensils, reusable produce bags. This was easy because we already have  a “kit” created. I call it The Diaper Bag.
And the final step: stop making trash. This, of course, was the tricky part. Anything that couldn’t be reused or recycled ended up in yet another collection bag in the kitchen, where we’ll be adding to it through the week. So far, we’ve done reasonably well. I’ve paid even more attention than usual to the food I buy and whether or not there will be packaging to dispose of. The (pleasant) side effect has been better thought-out, more nutritious, and tastier meals. Win, win, win.
But some things we just haven’t been able to escape, like more dryer lint. (I considered using this as an excuse to stop doing laundry, but that doesn’t seem like something that’s going to work out well long-term.)  We’ll continue to collect our “unavoidables” over the week and will share the results, as well as any particularly ingenious reduce or reuse ideas.
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Filed under Environment, food, No Impact Experiment