Thursday, January 03, 2008

Garbage Diary Day 1 and 2: Cheating....

OK, I've been tracking my throwaways for the past two days on my mobile phone, and it's not pretty, but it's not particularly excessive either since most of the things have been small little things. But boy do they add up. In full disclosure I'm cheating a little bit since I have some stuff coming in from Amazon tomorrow that will be full of happy packaging goodness that will go into the paper recycle bin. Basically some cooking crap that I "need". Replacement for an old can opener (that can get added to the trash list), measuring cup, I've been cheating by eyeballing but baking is more science than art and a lasagna pan. And my one true indulgence of the mix, a 3 cup french press for coffee. As you can see, I'm living high on the hog. All that will have packaging and should be added to my list, but since I'm posting before I get it, it'll seem like less garbage. For two typical days this is what I threw away.

coffee creamer
coffee creamer
tissue from akery item
paper towel
wrapper from candy
paper towel
store flyer
penny saver
coupon pack
wine bottle
salad dressing bottle
coffee creamer
plastic plate
yogurt cup and cap
coffee creamer
wall street journal
taco salad shell
two napkins
post it note 1 x 1.5
toilet paper
disposable razor
2 tissues blow my nose
Plastic Wrap
tangerine peel
newspaper bag
pack of coupons from mail
post it note 1 x 1.5
wall street journal
plastic bag for freecycle item - someone took the item and left me the bag *sigh*

My wall street journal is probably the most bulky item I regularly throw away. I have secondary trash that is thrown my way by marketeers that I have to deal with. I need to figure out a way to get off the list, but the sad truth is that it works. I page through the circulars for my grocery list and I'm not likely to go online to look the stuff up.

Most of my other garbage relates to hygiene and food. I'm not a regular consumer of toys (defined as fun stuff) anymore. I'll be explaining that in a future post.

As for recyclability, most of my throwaways can be recycled, the exception being some food related stuff like coffee creamer cups I use in the morning and plastic wrap. I do a pretty good job of reusing plastic bags. Maybe excessively so.

Lessons and takeaways:

1. it's easy to toss things without thinking. A lot of items I had to consciously recall that I threw away.
2. Much of our waste is convenience food related, I know at work the free coffee spawns lots of paper cups. I tend to use my own cup, but if I didn't I'd have 3 - 4 cups or cans of stuff each day. Things like creamer and sugar packets for various reasons tend to be packaged, mostly for takeaway.
3. We have a lot of packaging. Things like that nasty plastic wrap, and large boxes for software relate to reducing shoplifting. Apple has done a great job in reducing their packaging but goods have to be requested from the salespeople as a result.
4. Standardization leads to a lot of waste. When shipping, there are a set number of box sizes. If it's mostly empty space, fill it with plastic bags filled with air or packing peanuts. You get a lot of waste in the form of cardboard, packing filler, etc.

The solution buy less, buy what you need, buy secondhand, borrow.


At 7:41 AM , Blogger Green Bean said...

Good point on the boxes. Amazon, for instance, sends everything in those giant boxes - even when the item could fit in a small envelope. It's really annoying.

I posted about your challenge the other day and the results from my single day. I decided to do it for one day, once a month. :) Pretty eye-opening, isn't it?

At 3:29 PM , Blogger arduous said...

I'm actually doing a garbage diary this week! (I was inspired by reading "Garbage Land." The first thing I learned today? We always underestimate how much we throw out.


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