Don’t Throw Anything Away – Victoria Slaybaugh

Going into the intervention, I expected it to be relatively simple, seeing as I consider myself at least somewhat aware of my impact on the planet (I’m vegetarian, compost my food scraps, and use my bike and public transit, among other things). However, I was still not prepared for what I found.
The majority of the waste I produced was food related, boxes could be recycled (although that doesn’t mean much anymore it seems) but there was an unsettling amount of plastic or soiled and wax-coated paper and cardboard that I threw in the trash. It made me realize that I should be shopping at the Farmer’s Market or the SLO Food co-op (from the bulk sections) as much as possible. Food, especially fruits and vegetables or items that can be bought in bulk, should not come in a million layers of packaging, but they do, so I need to consciously work to reduce that unnecessary waste. I was recently told that SLO is now accepting food waste in the green yard waste bins, so I have been doing that in addition to my own composting for my garden, but it was still upsetting to see how much food goes to waste (food that I didn’t eat quickly enough and let spoil especially).
Last week my earbuds broke so I was debating where to buy new ones. Technology is innately problematic and wasteful, but I also noticed that the packing was absurdly overdone for the sake of presentation. That packaging became part of my waste for the week.
Cleaning, kitchen, and bathroom products were also big, from Clorox wipes to shampoo bottles, I was saddened by how much I threw away.
This intervention was hard, both because I had to collect my trash for a week and because I had to look at it. It’s incredible how in the states we don’t have to live with our trash like in other places, it’s taken away and put in the life-giving Earth. This self-intervention has made me realize that I am not doing even close to everything that I could be – even small things like shopping at other stores – but I have decided that I will be taking the baby steps towards creating less waste and hopefully will be able to show for it in the next self-intervention.

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