Don’t Throw Anything Away!

I began my self intervention Sunday October 7th, and finished the following Sunday, October 14th. I have always tried to be mindful of my trash, and have had a couple “no trash left behind experiences” when I was camping in the backcountry for a couple nights & for my trip to Zanzibar our personal trash (makeup wipes, snack bags, etc) had to be taken back home with us. Like most of my peers, I thought it was going to be a breeze and quickly found out it isn’t. I allowed myself to only use one paper grocery bag to fill my trash with. At first, every piece of floss, every wrapper, etc. was being tracked. It was the second day when I learned how much food that I waste by overestimating how much I want to eat and it taught me to always finish my plate because I really couldn’t afford anymore smells by the end of the week (I was already cautious about this after reading so many people saying that was the worst part.) When I ate at Milestone Tavern I ate every single bite bite because I knew that it meant a carton and extra food- which I didn’t think deserved space in my trash bag. Tracking my trash use was quite frankly overwhelming and the accuracy of how much trash I actually use was thrown off by Wednesday night when our refrigerator broke- it was leaking water from the freezer above it so everything was wet and soggy. My roommates and I weren’t sure how long it was broken for, and if it actually wasn’t keeping things refrigerated so we went through stuff and threw out a lot of things that we weren’t sure about – eggs, milk, turkey etc. I didn’t add these to my trash bag and so from Wednesday – Sunday I wasn’t doing my best at separating my trash, and I ate at friends houses Thursday and Friday night so I wasn’t keeping track of the trash they used to make me dinner. It was getting kind of complicated and I was disappointed that by the end of the week my trash bag wasn’t a perfect representation of all the things I would have thrown away. I still added to it, but it wasn’t perfect. However, I did note a few things that are definitely worthwhile. I brought my own cup to Starbucks when I got some coffee, used reusable plastic containers instead of plastic sandwich bags, and definitely contemplated on every item I bought at the grocery store on Sunday, even though that was the end of my tracking period I still wanted to continue my trash awareness. Hopefully someday I will be able to try this again and be more thorough & accurate! On Saturday afternoon I was inspired to watch a netflix documentary called “Minimalism” which I recommend to everyone! It hit a lot of great points about trash use and overconsumption.

-Megan Handley

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