I’m doing something insane, guys. Seriously. Even crazier than I usually do around here. I’ve joined a challenge posed by a new Green Blog I found to keep my trash in my garage for an entire week to see how much garbage I create. And if you think that sounds crazy, consider that the guy issuing the challenge is one day away from finishing one whole year of doing the SAME THING. As in, as we speak, he has a year’s worth of garbage in his basement. It’s a fascinating story you should totally check out if you get a chance. But in the meantime? Let’s ponder what the HELL I’ve signed up for here!
Why, exactly, are you doing this?
If you’ll recall, my family decided to make the effort some time last year to start taking anything to the recycling center that we could. Especially the things that they don’t want in the bin: like glass and cereal boxes. (Huntsville residents, find the list of what goes in the bin here.) This made a HUGE impact in how much garbage we created every week as before that? We were about to have to ask the city to give us another garbage bin. And that’s kinda disgraceful. Since then, some weeks have gone by where we forget to but the garbage bin on the street, but we have enough room for TWO weeks of garbage in it now. So it’s not a big deal.
I’d like to try to make that amount even smaller this year. Just find ways to reuse, avoid over-packaged items, recycle more, anything to reduce what we send out in our garbage bin every week. I thought, in order to see how much of a change we make, monitoring it for a week would be a great idea! I decided we’d do this project for a week now, and a week in six months and compare the lists to see how much we reduce.
What Exactly Will You Be Putting In Your Garage This Week?
Essentially I’ll be removing all trash cans in the house for the week, forcing everyone to give their garbage to me so that I can sort it in the garage. We’re going to keep our recycling pile, but not take it in for a week so that we can see that pile after a week. All of the garbage without food or grime on it will go in another pile, compartmentalized if there’s a lot of repeats. Anything that we can wash clean will go in that pile, but anything that we can’t get clean enough for me to feel comfortable leaving in the garage…that will go in the outdoor garbage bin. But not until AFTER I’ve documented it and photographed it.
How Will You Document The Results?
At the end of each day I’m going to photograph our garbage before dividing it up into the areas we’ll keep it in for the week. I’ll also document it in list form so that at the end of the week I’ll have that list along with the photographic evidence of how truly wasteful we are. So my children can hold it against me in 10 years.
Will You Try To Create Less Garbage Than You Would Normally To Make Yourself Look Better?
No. The point of this is to see how much we waste normally. In 6 months, when I do this again, hopefully we’ll have adopted new habits that will reduce our garbage production, but I’m not going to do those things this week. That said – I’m sure I’ll avoid certain things because I don’t feel like carrying the trash around with me, but I’ll do my best to keep things wasteful as usual!
What about diapers
I will count how many of those go in the outside bin, but that are indeed GOING IN THE BIN. I’m not going to take this so far to photograph dirty diapers or keep them for a week. There are several reasons why we don’t use cloth diapers and while I’m sure we could change this year, and we might decide that – it’s not something I can up and decide to start tomorrow. And also? We’re trying to show how much garbage we create and we use disposable diapers, so changing that now wouldn’t give us a clear picture.
Is your whole family participating in this insanity?
We are participating as a household, and then I’m participating fully. In other words, any garbage the household produces will be documented. Any garbage I produce outside of the house I’ll bring home to document. But – my family won’t have to do that part. I’m not going to inflict my own insanity on them.
Now – Starting when I wake up tomorrow morning (good timing, huh?) until when I wake up next Thursday – I’ll be doing this. This week will be my baseline so that in six months I can try to calculate how we’ve improved throughout the year. Hopefully seeing this garbage in a pile in my garage will really help me see how wasteful we are and will inspire me to make changes in our lives this year.
Either that, or it will gross me out so much I run away screaming and continue my life living in the woods and surviving off of fish and berries.
Next are the series of questions Dave posed to those of us participating. He has an “After” set of questions for us to answer as well. I’ll include those when I’m done.
What do you think makes up the largest part of your trash?
I think diapers would be the most by weight, however. Especially if I brought home the ones they change at daycare. (Which I will NOT be doing by the way. They already think I’m weird enough there.)
What do you think makes up the largest part of your recycling?
In terms of space? It’s boxes and cans from dinner prep every night because I rarely (never) cook from scratch. Lucky those are recyclable so that eases my guilt a bit. But I have a feeling I may find that my diet coke consumption will actually be the most. I’m curious to see.
Are you saving everything or keeping a list of what you would have saved?
Saving for a week, keeping a list, and photographing.
If you are saving everything, where are you keeping it?
In the garage. Except for diapers and any item I worry may attract mice (that I couldn’t clean enough or something like that). I’ll list those out, and then I’ll put them in our outdoor garbage bin.
Do you compost and if not, what will you do with your food waste?
We don’t compost now, but that is one of the things we are going to start this year. Our food waste (which there’s usually not much) will just go into the garbage disposal. If it can’t, we’ll put it in a bag and put it in the outside garbage bin.