Friday, January 11, 2008

Reducing my Trash Footprint

Here's my garbage from 1.11.2008. I won't bore you with each item but I'd say its about average. A combination of coffee cups, sandwich wrapping, a couple straws, napkins and an emery board. The sand was worn of it so I tossed it. This also is today's mail - mostly junk.

In order to reduce my ecological footprint, I need to recognize it's size. Here's the plan - I'll collect all my trash for two weeks. Photograph it daily and blog about it daily. The first week is intended to focus my brain on how much garbage I create. In the 2nd week, I'll try to reduce it. Simple, right? I'm stealing the idea from Frog Design and Tess' Trash Challenge. I currently recycle newspaper, magazines, plastic, glass, tin, aluminum and clothes I haven't worn in a year. I'm going to try to live smaller still.

I'll admit to being obsessive enough to tackle this challenge. There is a finite amount of space on this rock in space we call home. About 66% of it can be considered productive which means it is capable of meeting all our needs and absorbing all our waste. Based on current world population, there are about 4.45 productive acres per person per year. The average global citizen has a footprint of about 5.56 acres per year. This will come as no shock but the average US citizen footprint is about 23 acres per person per year. We got big feet.

Try one of these sites to learn more and do more about your footprint.
Adventures with Bobbie Bigfoot - set up for the kid in all of us. If everyone was my Bobbie, we'd need 1.8 planets. Bit of a surprise!
Best Foot Forward: Bringing Sustainability Down to Earth - UK based calculator - if everybody lived like me, we would need 2.2 planets - YIPES!
Ecological Footprint Quiz - site is upgrading to new quiz. A lot of technical info on the concept of ecological footprint.
Conservation International - 10 question quiz which takes a couple minutes. I discover my score is 49. My title is Eco-Apprentice. Already I can see ways to be reduce my footprint mostly in the food choices I make.
The Green Office:Carbon Offsetting - Geared toward those who manage an office with multiple workers. I may try this at work - on my break time, of course :)

I like Frog Design and my local One Man's Trash.

In the next 14 days, we'll see how I progress. Here's the size of today's bag - it fits in my chair.


Robyn McMaster said...

Bob, you have really focused your brain on reducing your ecological footprint. I sense you have never focused on this very much in past. I sense most of us do not. Thanks for all you're doing to challenge the rest of us.

How about junk mail? I discovered that if I did not give my zip code I did not receive circulars and catalogs from the stores where I shop. That's a new practice of mine and you might enjoy it.

Jackie Cameron said...

Hi Bob. Since we started separating "recyclable" stuff our weekly rubbish pick up has dropped dramatically. Here in Edinburgh we get kerbside pick ups for paper, cardboard and plastic and glass but we choose to deliver to the supermarket recycle bins - in conjunction with a shop of course. No extra emissions to do recycling - that would be daft.

I noticed the difference at Christmas time. Usually our bin in full to busting - but this time so much of it went back into the system.

Now the big challenge - as well as the junk mail that Robyn mentions - is to get supermarkets to reduce the packaging. That accounts for a huge amount of our waste.


Robyn McMaster said...

Jackie, my grocery offers large canvas bags cheaply, which are not only stronger and have nice handles, but can also be used over and over. I think I might just get them because it would also cut down on my use of plastic.

In reading this post over again, I'm inspired to do more.

By the way Bob, I hope you have a very happy New Year.

Bob Glaza said...

Thanks Robyn and Jackie - I appreciate your visits and comments...always! So far this little experiment is proving to give me a keener focus on all the trash around us. Looks like its going to be a 2 week process - this week I generate garbage at the rate I normally do. Next week, I focus on the lessons learned and the options available.

I know its only 14 days into 2008 but I'm proud to say there has been only 1 plastic shopping bag brought into the house. I purchased a couple sweaters from JCPenney...I could have carried them sans bag but it would have been impossible to hang onto my coffee cup :)

Happy 2008 to both of you!

Mario Vellandi said...

Hi Bob,

Reduce, re-use, and recycle is the basic mantra for new living (and saving money). After all, most trash is either landfilled or incinerated.

You might be interested in a fantastic book I'm reading called "Cradle to Cradle" from two sustainable designers (chemist and an architect). It really takes green-thinking to the next level with a very positive and realistic attitude.

Bob Glaza said...

That's what I'm talking about, Mario! I'll for sure check your book tip! Good to get your comment. Thanks for checking in.