Yesterday I started a new social responsibility project/experiment – I am tracking the items that I throw away. Not the items that I recycle or compost, but that will actually end up in a landfill. Every day I am going to try to post the results here, including any “close calls”.
Since I started yesterday, I’ll tell you that I threw away the wrapper to a Luna Bar and the packaging to a pack of swiss cheese slices we finally used up. At lunch we had an ice cream social, at which I almost chose a styrofoam cup to have my ice cream in, but at the last second I asked for a cone instead so I could eat it instead of throw the cup away. Phew!
So far so good today. I got some trail mix from a bin at Sprouts last week and finished what was in the bag, but I’m going to reuse the bag to get more food from there today. So two hours into the day, no trash generated – we’ll see how the rest goes and I’ll report back.
UPDATE: For lunch today I used up one of the microwave meals we had bought before I made the shopping shift to buying things that isn’t in packaging and I can take to lunch in reusable containers. The tray and box are recyclable, but I had to throw out the thin plastic covering over the food, and I used a paper towel to clean the tray off (thinking that the paper towel will bio-degrade in the landfill a lot faster than the plastic tray I cleaned).
UPDATE 2: At the grocery store I tried to reuse the plastic bag I get my trail mix in AND the little clip-tag-thingy to close the bag after you twist it up. But they have you write the SKU number down on the tag so as to know how much to charge, and I wanted a different kind of trail mix since I was not so crazy about the one I had, so I had to toss the paper/plastic combo piece that closes the bag up. BUT I did reuse the plastic bag itself, and next time I will bring a piece of recyclable paper and a rubber band, close the bag with the band, and hand the scratch paper to the cashier with the number on it (and then use the scrap paper over again until running out of room, at which point I can recycle it).
I know this all seems a little… much. But this is not really about not throwing anything out, and more about being acutely aware of the choices I’m making at the store. When I look at a juice box, I don’t want to just see a juice box. I want to see a cardboard thing with aluminum inside it and a plastic straw with a plastic wrapper around it, very little of which is recyclable since it’s all mixed together. Maybe I’ll go for the drink in the recyclable bottle instead, or just have water from a reusable jug.