I have just completed day two of the No Impact Experiment and I found Monday's focus on trash to be particularly overwhelming. We were asked to save all of our trash on Sunday so that we could analyze it on Monday and look for ways to reduce our waste steam. Saving my trash made me aware of how much I take the trash can for granted and I found myself constantly telling my family not to eat all of something because then we would have to add the wrapper to my Sunday trash pile. But it really couldn't be helped. All of our food comes in some sort of disposable wrapper...cereal boxes, yogurt containers, soup boxes etc...
Luckily, the No Impact Experiment comes with a how-to manual and provides lots of great suggestions on how to reduce your waste impact. Many of the suggestions regarding trash I already do. For instance, I don't use paper towels or paper napkins at home and have replaced these items with cloth. My menstrual pads are cloth, I use baking soda for deodorant, and my cleaning supplies are mostly homemade, all which helps to avoid plastic containers and paper.
But, food packaging is where I cause the most harm. I never buy in bulk and use those grocery store provided plastic bags to put my produce in. I buy lots of stuff from the deli which are placed in plastic tubs and also contribute plastic to the waste stream from the Chinese take-out place up the road.
I guess because I am able to recycle most of my trash, I figured I didn't need to worry so much about the source. If the plastic tub from the deli is recyclable, then I can just toss it in the recycling bin and it will be almost like I never used it right? Before long someone would be wearing my plastic tub on their back in the form of a fleece jacket made out of recycled plastic. A good thing maybe?
Monday's trash day opened my eyes to the fact that I need to do a better job not allowing trash into my life. It will require big changes in how I shop and will probably be the hardest part of this No Impact Experiment for me. For the remainder of this week, I have to save my trash and see where I can make changes. It makes me nervous to see my trash pile up and to not send it off, out of sight. It's unfortunate that we don't all have to live with our trash more often...it certainly would cause more people to take a harder look at the choices they make.