On days 2 and 3, we really started to see our impact as the amount of items accumulated. We are all increasingly aware of the many different avenues that our trash comes from, and being aware is the first step towards improvement. It’s pretty funny how many items we waste but don’t even think about using in our day to day lives, such as toilet paper rolls, tags, and salsa containers, to name just a few.
I started off my day slightly better than the first, but only slightly. I grabbed the last paper towel in my kitchen and therefore found myself with a cardboard roll now in my bag. When I went to grab a new roll of paper towels, as to not piss off my roommates, I realized that EACH roll of paper towels was individually wrapped in plastic and then inside its plastic casing! Why on earth would each roll of paper towels need to be individually wrapped?! Frustrated, I moved on with my day and found myself finishing off another small crate of raspberries, the small plastic box now in my AWAY bag. When it came to lunch I made myself a bowl of instant oatmeal…another little paper pouch. And then a cup of tea when I needed a little pick-me-up at the office…yet another little piece of paper wrapped around the tea bag. More and more I noticed the unnecessary packaging found on everyday things. Not to mention all the food waste I was producing every day and not collecting. I could probably start a small compost pile with everything over these past two days! How much food we waste in America is becoming an increasingly hot topic and this project sure is making me realize it more and more. Having the AWAY bag with me has really made me more aware of every choice I make in a day, and I had already thought I was a fairly conscious consumer before. So far I ‘m proving myself wrong.
Beginning with day two I started with considering what I would be consuming and doing today in order to better plan how I could limit my waste. I only use reusable plastic lunch containers and an aluminum bottle which minimizes food packaging, ziplock, and plastic drink containers; however, I noticed that the main problem was small pieces of trash that before I had never truly thought about. It is definitely challenging avoiding the smaller things like tags, magazines, and junk mail but it is just about finding alternatives for the flexible items so that you can still use the necessities. It is about balance. I plan on unsubscribing from companies that continue to send me thick magazines that immediately go into the bin and holding onto paper scraps for future notes and letters. I’ve been carrying a reusable bag around with me lately to avoid any extra unneeded packaging which has been incredibly helpful. Tomorrow I plan on seeing if I can produce no waste… we will see how that goes.
Trash accumulated: granola wrapper, banana peel, chocolate-covered raisin container, tag
Are paper towels allowed in out bag? I guess not, because they are wet/potentially unsanitary items. But we go through so many a day! I wonder if hand dryers are better from the environment. I didn’t really add much to the bag today because I haven’t been buying anything or eating out and I have a lot of leftovers. I did use a plastic fork and a Naked Juice and an oatmeal packet. I’m thinking a better breakfast would be to just buy fruit for breakfast rather than eat something with packaging. I feel like juice is pretty unnecessary if you already have delicious fruit to eat. Plus, there’s always water, which is free.
This morning I really noticed that I had more trash in my bag than I had anticipated for myself. I knew I produced a lot of waste but I thought a lot was around three or four pieces per day. At the end of day two my bag was starting to hold its shape (which meant it was getting more full, unfortunately). During breakfast I had the last English muffin in the pack, which meant I now had a plastic covered piece of cardboard in my AWAY bag. Then I started packing snacks and took the last granola bar out of its box, which meant more cardboard in my bag. Luckily, cardboard boxes are recyclable. Not so lucky is the wrapper for that granola bar which will find itself in my AWAY bag at some point throughout the workday. It was just a chain of actions throughout the day that kept producing more waste than I previously realized. I wanted to stay true to the project and collect my waste as if I wasn’t consciously putting each piece into a bag. I felt guilty every time I placed something new into the bag, so I guess the project was working. I really knew I needed to make a change in my every day actions regarding waste and packaging. I’m excited to be at the end of the week to see how the rest of the team is doing and how we can all improve.
My goal for today was to produce no trash; none at all. I realized that so much of our choices are interconnected; by eating more fruits and vegetables I have less packaged junk food to worry about tossing; by eating healthier I am producing less trash. When you make one good decision it opens up the space to make more good decisions allowing for many improvements. I was able to produce no trash today by planning out my day. I chose foods that were not already wrapped and could be put into reusable containers. I also made sure I would not need to purchase anything that would end up leading to more receipts, tags, packaging, and bags. I went as far as to eating produce that could be fully consumed so I would not have leftover scraps (i.e. tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, raspberries). It was incredible to see that creating no waste in a day is possible. It definitely took a bit more thought and time to ensure that I was minimizing my impact but the outcome made it completely worth it.
Trash accumulated: zero, zip, nothing, none
Being able to visibly keep track of my waste has really helped me see where I can improve. It’s kinda fun thinking of creative ways to get around the waste. I can see how it would be conceivable to eliminate most, if not all, of my waste. However, it’s honestly a bit difficult to be 100% sustainable if you are constantly on the move, both in terms of daily schedules and in terms of my somewhat homeless status (that’s an exaggeration; I’m just waiting to move into my apartment on July 1st, so I’ve been couch surfing the past few weeks). Since I don’t want to be constantly carrying around my bags of food while I move from apartment to apartment, it’s so much easier to just eat out. It also helps a lot to have a method of transportation other than your own limbs because the nearest grocery stores are a fair walk, which I don’t really want to do after a long day of work, a workout, and riding the already long trolley ride and walking to my latest couch (courtesy of fellow intern Faith). So I can see why here in San Diego especially so many people eat out. It’s way more convenient. At least, that was my reasoning behind investing in the 4 small tacos and their accompanying Styrofoam, tinfoil, and brown paper bag. I’m also starting to realize the benefits of having a community doing the same things: people to carpool with, people to keep you in check, to give you ideas. Little by little, we change ourselves and each other.
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