Breaking the Habit — Nicholas Latz

This week really changed the way that I look at trash. I realized how I rarely spend more than a moment thinking about throwing something away. It is just so easy, and something that I have done almost everyday of my entire life so I rarely thought about it. The only times that I seriously considered the amount of trash that I throw away is on longer backpacking trips where space and weight are issues. Changing this habit has been more challenging that I thought, at first I was resentful towards this whole challenge because I didn’t want to put in the extra work and think about it. Then I decided that I was going to do my best for just one week, and if I never wanted to think this hard about my trash again, I didn’t have to. By Wednesday I had warmed up to the challenge, and when I went grocery shopping, I was taking into account the waste that would be generated from the items I bought.

Going into this week I was trying to gauge how much trash I generate, but I really couldn’t, I had no baseline because I never thought about it. Taking a guess, I set the goal of fitting all of my trash into the first piece of trash that I created, a gallon-size ziplock bag that I could keep in the freezer. I almost did it, aside from a glass bottle, and packaging from chicken that I cooked Sunday night and absent-mindedly threw away. Now that I was looking more closely at my trash output, I started scrutinizing the amount of trash form my roommates. I noticed that a large part of the reason I kept my waste under control was by buying bulk items and meal prepping in reusable containers. I initially made this choice to save money and time, but I see now that it also helped me save trash. One area that produced much more waste than I thought was cleaning supplies, paper towels to be specific. I asserted using sponges to reduce my use of paper towels on cleaning surfaces, and would blow-dry my hands in bathrooms.

All in all, I still feel somewhat unsettled from this whole experience, watching all the trash that I made in one add up made me think about the other 1,000 weeks of my life that that I was throwing things away without a second thought.

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