We decided to do this challenge together (we’re both in class together) and after a week of collecting trash, we were both pretty surprised with how much stuff we managed to accumulate over the weeklong period. We sorted our waste into three piles—recyclables, compost, and trash (we had to trash some compostable items since SLO doesn’t compost everything that is technically compostable, either backyard or commercially).
From my perspective, I was honestly just surprised how much waste I managed to produce—I eat mostly food I cook at home, so a lot of the compostable waste was made by me on day one (I made like two pounds of kale chili that day for the whole week). I was expecting to have a lot of compostable waste, but what I was most shocked by was the number of times I caught myself throwing things into the trash that weren’t either compostable or recyclable—even things that I did regularly at home like making coffee (or plowing through containers of ice cream) generated a lot more trash than I realized. Going out to eat was also a little bit of an adjustment—especially when it came to being the only guy in Kreuzberg collecting napkins and food wrappers and stuffing them into my bag to take back home with me. I think the project was definitely eye-opening, though, and while I consider myself to be pretty good about recycling and composting, as well as bringing reusables (cups, bags, silverware, all of that), this has made me realize I still have a long way to go when it comes to minimizing the impact I leave with my lifestyle.
I’ve done a self-intervention like this before, so I was a bit less surprised at how much trash we produced. For me personally, food definitely was the biggest contributor to garbage. It was a bit weird walking around downtown or at the beach with garbage I had to hold on to, but it made me more self-aware of how much trash I was producing. I found myself eating a bit less than I’m accustomed to throughout the week. For example, I usually have a lot more snack foods that are individually wrapped, but I ate less this week. I also ate more fruits and vegetables this week to try and minimize my trash. Cody is a very healthy eater and I’m hoping that between living with him longer and this self-intervention I will start eating healthier; that in turn will also reduce my environmental impact. Our other roommate thought it was a bit weird when he walked into the garage and saw three separate bins that we were using to keep track of our trash. After we explained to him what the point of it was, he thought it was a cool idea. Overall, it was nice to do this again and notice that i made some slight improvements.