A Trashy Weekend

Enviro Girl has been tracking her trash in order to get a handle on exactly what her household throws away.  When confronted with the latest statistics on Americans and garbage (Americans throw away an average of 7 pounds of garbage per person every day), she wondered how her family compared to the national average.  In this instance, her goal was to be below average.

Thus far, they’re way below the 7 pound daily average.  The other piece of this exploration is what, exactly, we throw away.  To learn more about this, Enviro Girl has been tracking what goes into the wastebasket at her house.  Over the weekend her family threw away:

3 milk tabs, 7 q-tips, 2 wax paper wrappers from sticks of butter, 1 wrapper from a block of cream cheese, a mesh bag from a pound of apples, a bag from some chips, sandwich crusts, 3 plastic spoons & plastic cups (from a treat at Sunday School), 3 twist ties, 3 stickers from apples, a bit of foil from some cheese, 4 packages, 2 greasy napkins, a bag from some pretzels, several candy wrappers, wrapper from a tea bag, top from a can of concentrated juice, plastic bag from seed starter soil, the wrapper from a sleeve of crackers.

The tall kitchen garbage bag isn’t full yet.

Adding to their collective garbage count, however, are 5 plastic shopping bags full of trash.  Over the weekend they fanned out over their property (which includes 1/3 mile along a county highway) and cleaned up litter.  This litter included cans, bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts, a mangled pair of surgical scissors, candy wrappers, snack wrappers, newspapers and broken bits of plastic.

Even when adding other people’s trash to their household count, Enviro Girl’s family came up far below the 7 pound/person daily average.

By tracking her household’s trash, Enviro Girl has learned it’s primarily comprised of food packaging.  Even though her family diligently recycles plastic, glass, metal, paper and cardboard, they generate a significant amount of trash through snack food packaging.  The only way to further reduce the amount of garbage they send to the local landfill would be to change their diet.

When Enviro Girl considers how people might reduce their garbage as a general rule, she comes up with a couple solutions:

*Municipalities could charge by weight, which might encourage more recycling.

* Smaller garbage containers might encourage people to throw away less–kind of like how smaller plates make people take smaller servings of food.  We have super-sized our trash containers, and Enviro Girl believes it dulls our perception of how much waste we generate.

Tell the Eco Women:  how do you think Americans could be encouraged to throw away less garbage each week?

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3 thoughts on “A Trashy Weekend

  1. I do think that having smaller trash cans would make people more mindful about what goes in there. I’m concerned that charging by weight would encourage people to sneak their trash into other people’s cans/dumpsters or simply toss bags out of the car when driving down a country road.

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