Trash talk: My zero waste story
Did you know that the average American produces around 4.5 pounds of trash per day? That’s 1,642.5 pounds of trash per year, according to archive.epa.gov. I’m not sure what exact factor brought me to where I am today, but this staggering fact alone was enough to “drive me to the jar.” Which is to say Bertha, my 1-gallon trash jar, the guardian of my yearly trash use. Bertha is where I first place all the accidental and unavoidable trash that comes to me in my daily task of being human. I am 31 years old, I live in Nevada County, and I purchase the majority of my groceries at BriarPatch.
Up until a year and a half ago, when I had my trash “awakening,” I considered myself a pretty “green” person. I recycled, I shopped and ate locally, and I definitely did not litter. I can’t say what was my first step in zero waste. Maybe it was my choice to no longer use paper cups for my daily coffee, or plastic liners in my trash can. Once I started paying attention to the mindless waste habits in our consumer society, I could no longer ignore them. And after being exposed to the idea of “zero waste” on YouTube and social media, I was hooked.
“Zero waste means setting a new goal for how we live in the world – one that aims to reduce what we TRASH in landfills and incinerators to zero – and to rebuild our local economies in support of community health, sustainability, and justice.“ (zerowasteworld.org.) Although there is no way to be 100% zero waste, we can start somewhere. The first step is to simply observe our current behavior without judgment.
This is where you come in. If you would like to take a peek into what the zero waste lifestyle is about, join me in a seven-day challenge. Pick a receptacle of choice, and simply KEEP all of the trash you use for seven days. Join the conversation and document your process using the hashtag #whenlifethrowsyoutrash and #BriarPatchZWchallenge. Everyone who participates will be entered to win one of my custom-made bulk bags!
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