Sunday, December 30, 2007

Let's Go All the Way....

Kelly Zito has a hilarious article in about Ari Derfel, a Berkeley (of course where else) Caterer who has kept every piece of trash that he has generated or composted the rest. And I mean everything, there was nothing half way about this experiment.

When Derfel hatched Project Trash Retention over dinner with friends in 2006, he decided to compost food, and hold onto all recyclable items (he also keeps garbage from vacations and backpacking trips). "If you're going to embark on this, there's no point if you're not going to go all the way," Derfel said, laughing.

A visit to his blog details the rules of what he's kept. Be forewarned some of it is in the yick! category and borders on TMI. In this past year, he's generated 96 cubic feet of garbage, which is pretty remarkable quarter cubic foot of trash. A good way to imagine that is only generating something the size of an old phone book a day.

I know I generate a lot more than that. One of the best quotes from the piece is:

"When we throw something away, what does 'away' mean?" said Derfel. "There's no such thing as 'away.' "

Rather, the trash bin is simply one stop in the life cycle of each item, Derfel says. Each thing we throw away has been produced somewhere, shipped to a store, entered the home, and then is sent somewhere else - using up water, oil and land.

I've read about experiments like this in the past, an it's a staple of classes in natural resources programs at colleges all over the country to keep the trash you generate for a week. But this takes it to another level.

CIC Challenge: Recycle things, buy less, but for now, try this, document everything you throw away each day for a week and see how much you through away. How many gum wrappers, bottles, cans, little half and half containers. How long is your list? How does it make you look at your trash differently?


At 8:48 AM , Blogger Green Bean said...

Hmm, sounds like a good challenge. Eye opening and yet not the mess of digging through garbage - I think I can do this. :) Are you suggesting we also document what we recycle? There is a lot of energy used in recycling and also, alot of things that are not ultimately recycled despite us tossing them in that bin?

At 2:22 PM , Blogger Charles said...

The most important thing to be aware is consumption, recycling helps but it doesn't replace. For instance, it's possible to get one's daily coffee in a recyclable cup, or a cup that composts more easily but even so, it still takes energy to create, ship and process that cup.

I suggest marking what you do recycle in some way. It's better than nothing. The other question to ask, is there a better non disposable alternative to the recycled goods. There might or might not be. It's not about perfection, it's being about conscious of our actions and improving.

At 9:16 AM , Blogger Green Bean said...

Thanks Charles. I think I'll give it a go next week and I'll post my results.


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