I spy with my little eye… TRASH.

Students learn in various ways, and it wasn’t until university that I discovered I was a visual learner; in fact, I didn’t realize that there were different ways in learning and obtaining material because our education system, as I was moving through it, taught mostly in one way and didn’t really let us know there were other options for our learning needs.  The education system rant is for another day though!  Visual learning is my focus today and the connection to zero-waste.  I always make my point, relax.

Recently I have been introduced to the photography of Gregg Segal.  This has been circulating and making its rounds through Facebook, so you have have been made aware of the photos of families laying in their week’s worth of trash.  To some people this may seem like an absurd project, but to me it’s all about visualization.  It’s so simple to throw something in the garbage bin, close the lid, eventually take out the full, stinky bag to the back of your property to be picked up by the noisy dump trucks who take it to the landfill.  Out of sight, out of mind.  This is such a reflex habit, the act of tossing something in the trash, that one forgets just how much one is throwing away.  Have you ever dissected your trash?

Fellow zero-waste bloggers often keep their trash in a container and take pictures of what they throw away; the first one I saw was Bea Johnson with her impressive glass jar of ONE YEAR’S worth of garbage.  It wasn’t until recently I decided to do the same to try and keep track of what I was reflex-throwing away, and actually dissecting the garbage to see how I could avoid producing this in the first place.  It felt strange at first, but this was for my own learning’s purpose.

Here is my dissection of the garbage I produced from July 30th until August 11th.  Not that impressive yet, but the more I keep track, the more I can improve.  Side note: a student once taught me the saying her mother taught her, “Practice makes permanent,” which differs of course from the known “Practice makes perfect”.  I find this to also perfectly describe the path to zero-waste.  Practice makes permanent.

Two weeks of garbage (one person)
Two weeks of garbage (one person)
Dissecting garbage
Dissecting garbage

tea bag wrapper
two fruit stickers
butter packaging
cover from a blue cheese package
two receipts
movie ticket
a piece of tape
juice tab
chocolate wrapper
part of an eyelash brush
Not pictured: a bag of catfood (I contacted the company asking if they make recyclable packaging, but due to the meat in their catfood, they do not.  I am still trying to find bulk alternatives to packaged cat food.  Anyone have any tips?)

Not as great as it could be, and this was not even one month.  I’ll continue collecting until the end of the month, and then start fresh for September.  This has been a valuable thing for me to do, as every time I put something in the jar, I do not feel good about it, and continue to think to myself, “What can I do better?”

Gregg Segal article: http://www.treehugger.com/culture/photos-families-in-7-days-of-garbage-gregg-segal.html



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