Week of Trash – Final Results

Posted by Rebecca Carter on Mar 19, 2006 in Reuse, Trash, recycling | 5 comments

Wotfinal1_1Wotfinal2_3 Seven days of trash. Two adults. One guest, three days. Another guest, 2 days. Trash in the freezer, trash on the balcony, trash everywhere! I saved it all up for one week, and that’s what it looks like.

(First photo: how it originally "came out of the baskets". Second photo: bags combined)

So, what have I learned?

Wotfinal31. No more fresh produce from Costco. As much as I think that my husband & I can finish a giant bag of broccoli from Costco, we can’t. I was filled with good intentions. Broccoli is so good for you. But I threw away almost an entire bag. So sad. So embarrassing to have to admit to the globe. Same goes for the 6 pack (or 8?) of giant portobello mushroom caps.

(Photo: All organic waste for 1 week. Potential to be composted.)

2. I really, really want to start composting. I’d do it any way that was available to me, which right now are zero ways.

3. Most of my trash comes from the kitchen. Between organic waste & product packaging, mostly from food, we create the majority of the household waste.

Wotfinal44. Product Packaging is a big deal. This is something that Melissa in LA is dealing with, too. We buy products that come in packages. So maybe we need to put a little more pressure on the industry to do two things. 1) Create less packaging, please! 2) Use materials that are typically recyclable.

(Photo: All (most) product packaging disposed of in one week.)

5. Paper comes from every direction. And I still don’t know what to do about all of it. I have a problem. I love to read. Miami has about a gazillion free publications, some weekly, some monthly. I love to read them. I learn from them. Yes, many have websites. No, I don’t enjoy reading off of the websites. No, I don’t know what to do with them after I’ve read them. It’s like the newspaper. It’s a completely different experience reading it on paper than it is online.

6. I (we) need to learn to say, "No, Thanks". No Thanks, I don’t need a bag with that. No Thanks I don’t need a brochure, I’ll look it up online. People hand out stuff everyday that is just garbage. We look at it for a second, or only use it for a second, and then this brand new item has just become garbage.

7. I need to find some courage to challenge the authorities. Through my Recycling Chronicles I have tried to find out more about why my building doesn’t recycle. I have no fear calling the city or the county with questions. Who do I fear? The property managers for the condo. Why? I don’t know, I’ve always been a ‘fraidy cat for certain things. I rent here, so I don’t pay maintenance fees, and I don’t pay these property managers. So I feel like it gives me no right to complain. But I have to find it in myself to really get to the bottom of this, directly with the source. Additionally, I think that I really need to talk with my commissioners, to try to make recycling a bigger deal, especially in the City of Miami.

Wotfinal58. Buy products made from recycled materials. From what I understand, if a municipality doesn’t recycle something that is, in fact, recyclable, it is because they do not have a buyer for that particular type of waste. If we recycle, but do not buy products made from recycled materials, we are not completing the circle and we are not creating demand for wholesale/industrial buyers of the materials.

(Photo: Of all of the trash, the only potential recyclables.)

9. Think twice before tossing it out…as if the whole world would know. I really thought about my trash this week. I even salvaged some things that were about to be trashed, and found some "reuse" for them. Throwing out trash should always be a conscious action, for all of us.

(Update 4/4/06: see all WoT posts, including links to Living Green in LA’s version)

5 Responses to “Week of Trash – Final Results”

  1. Rebecca, do you live on the beach? There is some community garden somewhere in SoBe … they had a lottery to see who would get plots. I was on the lottery, but I gave up my position to someone else who doesn’t have a garden. I don’t know what has become of this … perhaps you can find out. I’m just thinking it might provide a compost-friendly garden situation!
    Also, composting in SoFla might be very different than in other more temperate climates. Something worth looking into.
    Good luck and keep up the great blog!

  2. I live in Brickell. Do you have any info at all on the community garden? It is a huge interest of mine and I can’t find any info anywhere.
    The county government does recommend composting, but who knows how tough it is. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone in S. Florida that is doing it.

  3. Rebecca,
    Here’s a link to the press release:
    Community Garden
    I would be curious to know about composting as the high levels of humidity here in the summer might turn the heap into something quite unhealthy, but I suppose it could work with the right set up and drainage. I really just don’t know enough about it. Maybe Fairchild or the gardening editor at the Herald could provide some info.
    Oh, I almost forgot … check out this site:
    Master Gardener
    PS … Orchid show at Fairchild March 31-April 2nd. Don’t miss it!

  4. Hey Rebecca,
    My week of trash ended last night (pickup was this morning). My post: Week of Trash – Final Numbers
    Your analysis was great, by the way. I was just thinking about the “no thanks” issue the other day. Customers have to learn to refuse bags (I’ve become particularly strident about that lately!), but I also think cashiers should be trained to ASK if you want a bag first beforehand – that would get customers thinking. It’s absurd how many times we use bags to carry things that we can carry perfectly well ourselves without a bag.
    And I’m with you on the reading issue. I am not ready to give up some of my favorite magazines, like Bitch, Ode, and Utne. Reading at a computer does not in any way compare.
    We also found that most of the trash is kitchen-generated. I found myself getting frustrated and overwhelmed by it all – although I guess recognizing the source of so much trash is a good start.
    A pet peeve – all these great organic, healthy companies that use the worst packaging! Like Silk soymilk – only comes in those (generally) non-recyclable waxy cartons. And Amy’s organics (frozen meals) use plastic coverings and paper “dishes” (but I doubt the dishes are recyclable with the food remnants cooked on).
    As far as courage to face the authorities – I know how you feel. It’s hard summoning up the courage to broach a subject you already know they don’t care too much about. I would suggest compiling some simple facts and approaching them in a positive way, with easy, positive and inexpensive solutions. And don’t feel too discouraged if they blow you off at first! Poco a poco, right? :)

  5. Poco a poco is right. That’s the whole point, I guess. Every little bit makes a difference. FYI Melissa, I changed your comnent to add a hyperlink, because I accept HTML in my comments section.
    I agree that baggers should ask before bagging. This past week I wasn’t paying attention, and was bagged several items that I didn’t want a bag for. As you know, once they bag it, you can give back the bag…but it’s not on the handy bagging rack anymore and I think sometimes just won’t get used.
    As for magazines, I thought up a potential “sharing” solution. If you want a magazine that isn’t currently offered at your public library: Ask them 1) if they could order the subscription OR 2)if you could buy the subscription (on the library’s behalf) and have it sent to the library. That way you can go there and read it, and so can others.
    As for your pet peeve on the containers, I think about your post on the Global Green Oscar Party and how they didn’t offer recycling of the beer bottles…same issue.
    Thanks so much for participating with me! I think you did a great job, and it’s so interesting to see another view on the same topic.
    BTW Manola, thanks so much for the links! I can’t wait to go and check it out!

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