Day 2’s trash list is long, because I went shopping:
- 3 paper receipts – recycle
- 2 squares cardboard tupperware packaging – recycle
- 15 product USB stickers (geez, I only bought six items…) – trash
- 2×4 square deli paper – trash
- used packing tape – trash
- 10×4″ Alpine Lace cheese pouch made of unidentified plastic * – trash
- 1.5 quart cardboard Dryer’s ice cream carton with unidentified coating * – trash
- BRITA filter cartridge – trash – stored to later send to the Take Back the Filter Campaign
- 2 watermelon rinds – disposed of – whoops!
- 1 cardboard box of milk cartons – recycled already – whoops!
- 8×11 envelope of glossy junk mail paper, addressed to someone else – returned to PO
- cardboard box – saved for re-use!
- packing paper – saved for re-use!
* A call to the manufacturers of Alpine Lace did not yeild the plastic type or recyclability information of this pouch. A call to Dryer’s confirmed that 1.5 quart, 1 quart, and 1 pint containers cannot be recycled.
What I did right
I went to my local bakery, La Bou’s, and brought along a plastic bag with me. They handed me a loaf and I went home with no trash except the receipt from the sale. I also managed to eat at a restaurant without generating paper trash.
How I could have done better
1. Compost! I forgot.. yes.. FORGOT that compostable food waste counts as trash. I had some watermelon at a restaurant, and didn’t take the rinds home because for some reason I thought they didn’t count as trash! Yes, they are bio-degradable, but no, I don’t have a compost system in place – so I chuck my food waste into the plastic-lined trash can, where the proper microbes may not ever reach it.
Luckily, my sister found an article on how to make your own composter in a soda bottle – so that’s what I’ll be starting when I get back from my road trip to LA!
2. Make it at home. Forces conspired against my friends and me to make our own ice cream yesterday, but the craving demanded satisfaction. I was disappointed to learn Dryer’s ice cream does not come in the recyclable Tetra Paks that milk comes in.
3. Shop Used, Freecycle, or Thrift. I bought some excellent new Tupperware yesterday to help cut down on the number of Ziplock bags I use – but I bought them brand-new. They came in packaging and with at least two product stickers on them each, which have to be thrown away. Ideally, I would have found something usable at a thrift store. It would have taken time to hunt down, and frankly, used Tupperware sounds a little creepy to me – so I chose to buy new.
So far, everyone I’ve spoken to – my friends and family, the waitress, the baker – have all been supportive of this endeavor. It’s great! I really appreciate their willingness to talk about the issue, and to be there for me. But I have noticed a strange response, too: people offer to take on my garbage as their own in order to “help me” cut back on my pile. They want to help, but they are missing the point, which is ultimately to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, no matter who is sending it there.
I suspect the offer to take on my trash stems from a desire to see me succeed – which is great! – but ultimately, I suspect it indicates how much we all have lost the feeling of personal responsibility for the trash we put into the landfill. If someone felt guilty for the plastic they were already dumping daily, would they really offer to take on more?
Not to worry though. While a lot of people have said my task seems too daunting to them, they are glad to see me trying, and that’s really where their offer of help comes from.