An Experiment In "Going Green(er)" - "Trash Talk"

Submitted by Charles Frost on Tue, 07/03/2007 - 07:56.

Ten Days Of Personal Trash

Ashley, and her trash - after 10 days...

Trash Talk: Introduction


By: Trash Talk - May 13, 2007


For the next two weeks, I will be living without a garbage can. Where will my trash go? I am going to start needing to think about that before I buy something because, according to the rules I have set up for myself, I’m going to have to live with it. My own garbage must be within five feet of me at all times.


The purpose of this project is to challenge my behavioral patterns and natural instincts to throw things away, developing a greater awareness of my own contribution to the world’s landfills. This blog will track my daily life and purchasing patterns with this new mindset, noting the ways that it affects my decisions. I will record my progress, predicaments, substitutions, and solutions.


Who am I? I love disposable Jell-O pudding cups. I have designed five packaging schemes that are in full production. I recycle when I see a recycling bin. My landlord has a compost pile that I barely use. I feel a tinge of guilt, but really, it’s not my problem yet. For the most part I defer to my inner demons: laziness (the recycling bin is at the END of the hallway, and I’m too busy), apathy (there’s so much garbage, what’s another Styrofoam container?), and helplessness (corporations don’t use recyclable packaging, and I just need to buy yogurt right now. I can’t not eat yogurt).


But that’s not the person I want to be. I truly want to make a difference. From a high level, I have always felt that our massive garbage production is senseless, and have never been afraid to say so. Yet I’m starting to feel the hypocrisy of espousing this green goal without living it on a personal level, on a daily basis. I have observed my own wasteful behaviors, and have a lot of changes to make.


A single person’s garbage amounts to 1.2 tons or 2,300 pounds (approximately) each year. By that estimation, I could potentially create 44 pounds of garbage in the next two weeks. My goal is to create none. I’m walking the walk, my friends. Watch me, make fun of me, cheer me on, or help me carry my garbage to client meetings for the next two weeks.


This project deals solely with behavior modification and our footprint on landfill space. It is not an endorsement of recycling and I will investigate and invite discussion regarding the challenges of alternative disposal methods (incineration, compost, Goodwill).


At the end of my two weeks, another frog will continue the project, experiencing his/her own two-week stint of trash-free living. The transference of this blog will highlight the differences in environmental consciousness across cities, environments, governments, and economies. And, ideally, it’ll mean a few hundred less pounds of garbage in our landfills – a small step, but a measurable one.


Rules of the exercise:
- Participants must remove all garbage cans from your house/ desk (see exceptions below).
o If the participant has roommates, they do not have to participate in this exercise (but may!)
o If the participant has a partner and/or children, they do not have to participate in this exercise (but may!)
- Participants may not use public garbage cans/ or anyone else’s garbage can.
- Participants cannot give garbage to someone and ask them to throw it away for you.
- Participants may recycle.
- Participants may compost.
- When participants eat in a restaurant, unless it states that it composts, they must finish everything on their plate or take it to a compost facility.
- Participants may flush your toilet.
- Participants may incinerate items.
- Participants may donate objects to Goodwill or other charity organizations.
- Any garbage created, the participant must live with. It must stay on him/her (in a purse, bag etc.) or within five feet at all times.

Ashley Menger

The adventure begins here:

(you have to work backwards up the pages)



pack it in, pack it out

I didn't stay in the girl scouts because the troop I was to go into had no plans for camping, so I turned around on the "fly up" bridge and quit (much to my mother's mortification). But I did learn this from the girl scouts later -- Pack it in, pack it out. I practice this in life. When I am faced with a situation where the only water is bottled water, I take the container with me to recycle if there is no recycling bin in sight.

We compost all food waste (meat is a rare thing and only on hand when our son is around and he eats it all). Bones, a rare thing in our house, go to the dog. Luckily I live in Cleveland Heights where curbside recycling is picked up weekly and offers a home to almost everything I need to recycle.

Two friends had an idea for a dance several years ago. They would wear costumes made of the styrofoam flats and other at that time throwaway packaging to indicate what our movement would be like if we had to carry everything we routinely buy and throw away. The movement would of course be minimal inhibited by the waste.

Check this out: Noimpactman and google "The Year without Toiletpaper".

"Dressing with Food:" party like in 1968

In the fall of 1968, in Boston, following in the wake of the Harvard Lampoon's "Dressing with Food" issue, we had a party which in the wee hours tested the functionality of the concept. As a result of our research early that morning, I'd recommend food over styrofoam any day. We weren't that "into" organic back then, but the food was eminently recyclable and useful, one way or the other, and had certain clinging, cupping, and sticking attributes that most styrfoam and other packaging materials usually don't, unless artificially enhanced.


I believe in accentuating the positives of what CAN be done. I think the food, chosen properly, is more "danceable" as well and should allow for a far greater range of movement. Then, at the end of the day, you an eat your outfit and perhaps even take the excess to St. Herman's. Voila! Food does triple duty: Clothing, sustenance, and charitable inclinations.


But, I digress.

Trash Day!!!

Yeah!  Curbside recycling in the 'hood went off without a hitch.  Kids love garbage haulers and so do I!!!

Two separate trucks--one comes around for trash and the other for recyclables.  The City of Cleveland should also have less workers' comp complaints filed as the motorized lift takes the strain off workers backs.