Elle Derby- trash week

I initially started the intervention on Monday (I forgot to start on Sunday which should have been foreshadowing my week of being spacey, throwing things in the trash and then fishing them out a minute later, or throwing things out and realizing it at the end of the day when I didn’t contribute much to my trash pile. I learned a few things about myself this week. I paid a lot of attention to my impact on the world and the garbage that I contribute to the dumps and seeing areas where I can improve and make my impact smaller. I felt that this week was pretty representative of my typical trash production— I didn’t change my schedule and daily habits in order to do the intervention— in large part because I wanted an accurate representation of how much trash I produce in a week. Things that I learned about myself: 1. my memory is abysmal, 2. I produce less trash than I thought that I did, 3. My habits and routines are a large part of how much trash I produce.
My memory is abysmal: I realize now that I should have set multiple timers a day in order to remind myself not to throw anything away, but it is a little too late for that. Looking back on the week, I acknowledge that I mindlessly threw away the most trash while I was on campus: eating an apple or granola bar between classes, recycling a handout that was given to me in a class that I no longer need, and other small things that I didn’t think about. At my best, I actively reminded myself that I need to put this granola bar wrapper in my backpack. At my worst, I threw away many small things and was kicking myself an our later when I remembered. I also learned that I chew much more gum than I initially thought, which was something that I started to feel much more guilty about. A lot of the trash I produce is compostable or recyclable and the gum wrappers that I seem to produce in mass quantities are neither. I am now thinking about investing in a different gum brand that has less wrapping— maybe some mints (?). I also have to address the fact that I did sometimes willingly throw things away. Although I hate to admit it, I sometimes did throw things away- and not because of my forgetful nature. I eat a lot of fruit, veggies and fresh produce. When I was eating an apple on my way to class, I often didn’t want to put the apple core back into my backpack, potentially have some people see me and think that I am a weirdo, and maybe forget it in my backpack and have it get my school things gross. I also admit that I did throw some things away on a daily basis- namely my eggshells of the eggs that I eat every day- I really didn’t want to carry these to my garage where I was keeping my trash. I tried not to keep everything, but some things are just much more convenient to throw away right away. I think that if I had kept all of my trash— whether I meant to throw it away or not, I would have a lot more eggshells, banana peels and apple cores in my picture. Even though I didn’t keep these items, I put more thought into my consumption and impact on the earth, which I think was the point of the intervention, so I don’t consider myself a failure per se but I would have liked to have had a more accurate photo at the end of the week.
I produce much less trash than I thought that I did; almost all of it is from food. The lack of more trash might be due to the fact that I did, in fact, throw some things away, but even so, I remember the majority of the items that I tossed, and I produce much less trash than I initially thought. I think that a large part of this is due to that fact that I consume— for the majority of the time— fresh, non-processed foods that often don’t have wrappers. Each week, I have one or two days where I prepare meals that I will continue to eat for the rest of the week. On these meal-prep days, I typically produce a decent amount of trash for the day, but minimize my trash production for the rest of the week (a lot of this “trash” is typically recycling on these days). I have learned that my body feels better when I prepare food in this manor, and I produce much less waste, I have also learned that buying in bulk contributes to a limited trash output. I think that my largest source of trash production was my meal prep day, the small snacks that I ate throughout the week and my breakfasts every day. Every day, I eat an egg, black beans and salsa and I was throwing away an eggshell every day and a can of black beans every few days. I am looking into possibly buying in bulk to reduce packaging trash.
Habits are a large part of the trash that I produce: I realized that when I am running late or am very busy or am in a hurry that I typically go for an easy snack: something that I can take with me, something that I don’t have to make, and something that I can easily store in my backpack. I realized after about a day that this was a large source of my trash, so I tried to be more diligent with my time and prepare my food for the next day to reduce my production.
Takeaways, and things that I will (hopefully) change: Mints, not gum, buying in bulk and being more mindful about shopping and packaging in general, composting as often as possible (will maybe try to start doing this at home, but I can’t make any promises), being more diligent with my time to reduce “easy” foods that are packaged. Overall, I am happy that I got the opportunity to evaluate my contribution to a more sustainable society: I obviously have a lot of work to do, but I also believe that I lead a much more sustainable lifestyle than many (not that that’s saying much). If I implement the small changes that I mentioned into my lifestyle, I think that I would truly be proud of my trash output (or lack thereof) and it’s affect on the environment, myself, those around me, and future generations. (Picture to come)

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