Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trash total from week Two

My trash from week 2 weighed in at 1.22 lbs - which is nearly 3 lbs. less than last week. Most of the savings came by planning ahead - taking coffee in my own mug - thanks Next Door - and packing a thermos of milk for lunch. Those "to go" cups make a big difference. I've even switched to a mug if sitting in the coffee shop!

Planning ahead makes a huge difference. In all fairness, this weigh in did not include all of the junk mail - like last week. There is a place in town - EarthWorks - that takes mixed use paper for a small fee of $.08 per pound. They shred it and send it to an outfit that makes some sort of outdoor equipment. Deb says the next step is to "follow our trash" to see where it really ends up! That might take some serious planning.

One thing for certain - this exercise showed me that just thinking about waste makes a huge difference. It effects the choices I make.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trash Stinks after a week!

Phew!!! Gross is right. The odor was beginning to raise a few eyebrows. Ya think I should have rinses out the milk cartons and yogurt containers? Here's my total trash accumulation for a week - 4 lb 1.5 oz. It would have weighed a little lower but my 15 year old alarm clock broke on Thursday - I loved that clock.

A couple things about this first week of the experiment surprised me. Number one was how much more aware I became about alternative choices. There is something to be said for experiential learning. My brain focused on choices for the future. There were a couple times mid-week that I wanted to switch to a reusable coffee cup. But to set a base trash weight (BTW), I had decided that business as usual was best. Secondly, this was a "light" mail week - and still it added a lot to the gross total. Really torn between ending direct mail solicitations from my favorite causes or finding a local recycler that takes mixed paper i.e. junk mail. Thirdly, there were a ton of places I visited focused on reduce, reuse and recycle. Either I was just more aware or there is something in the air.

Future forward design for the world you inhabit - Inhabit

No Impact Man - a family in NYC challenging current convention and behavior. The blog that inspired my experiment.

Sustainable Living with a Lighter Footstep.

Trashformations - a blog about fun and easy ways to live green.

THE spot to learn more - Co-op America - Economic action for a just planet. Membership is a bargain!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Pox on Plastic Bags

The collectors come right right to the end of my driveway every Thursday. This week the Rubbermaid container is a bit lighter. I'm holding my personal trash to weigh until tomorrow. Its contained in two carry-out plastic bags. Odd for someone who has committed to shrinking his footprint. While I've carried only one plastic bag into the house in 2008, I am a product of the 21st century.

But wait - there appears to be a movement afoot! The NYC council has passed a law for business to recycle plastic bags. San Francisco leads the way in the US with an outright BAN on plastic bags. Melbourne, Australia and Sydney close, also ban the blight that has become a bottomless pile in kitchens around the world. China's cabinet has issued a ban, along with a fine for usage after June 1. Today at my Toastmaster's Club, a woman delivered a speech on recycling. Something is in the air!

Anne Barnard wrote the Times piece and also the blog post. Be sure to check the comments section for the wit that only New Yorkers can share. I particularly like the first one :) I'm skeptical at how successful an initiative directed at merchants can be. But it is an excellent first step.

One of the bloggers at The Blue Voice, marigolds2, posts a snappy entry with great links. My favorite is reusable bags - a site with endless choices previously mentioned. If you're into chic, colorful and home grown then Baggubags is your spot. Created and distributed by mother and daughter, Joan and Emily, they are in CA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Tuesday - The Bag Begins Bursting

Today - everywhere I look people carry water bottles. Chris Jordan is an artist in Seattle whose work puts consumerism into stark perspective. He's big on statistics though he calls it "Running the Numbers". Check out his photo about 1/4 way down the page link. His statement strikes at our humanity:

My underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
This is NOT about guilt - its about doing what's best for the planet. Jordan uses his images to help us consider the value of one. I'm not a big water bottle user - I'm a re-user - but damn am I gathering to-go coffee cups! I can see that next week will find me becoming a travel mug coffee drinker. Wonder what the barista will say? If its anything like the response from the grocery store when I use my own cloth bag, it will be a humorous time. They look at me like I have 2 heads - which I don't....yet :)

Yesterday's trash: coffee cups, paper towels, yogurt container (non-recyclable so far as I can tell), napkins, mixed paper, miscellaneous mail...my bag is bulging. The custodian at work is going to think I'm on holiday! No trash to pull! HA

For hi-resolution - go to the originating site from Cornell University.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Footprint Awareness - Days 2 & 3

Saturdays trash that would normally go into the garbage can is to the right - three Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza trays (had to have bread AND cinnamon twirl), a couple to go coffees, napkins, straws, etc. Sundays was more of the same minus the pizza ( I ate at Subway). It ain't pretty! It's garbage for pete sake :) I've only had to go into the trash can to retrieve items 4 or 5 times. Some habits are hard to break! And I didn't open my mail on Saturday - it was all bills!

This is turning into a fascinating experiment. Thinking before acting makes a big difference. Already, I am imagining ways to cut down my footprint. In measurement experiment, there needs to be a control number or base. Creating a base wight of garbage for comparison purposes is the goal this week. I'll weigh it on Friday. Next week, I'll implement ways of making the whole mess lighter.

Living low impact has been part of my lifestyle for a number of years. I live in the Pacific Northwest - its crunchy here - so it goes with the territory. We recycle, we hug trees, we ride bikes (not like Portland but....), we sell aluminum! Still, focusing in this specific way is sharpening some thoughtless actions.

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.