An experiment in home waste reduction and management
This is my home garbage collection project: For one year, I am tracking all nonconsumable things that enter and leave my home, working to reduce the volume of packaging and clutter that I bring in, and attempting to keep garbage and recycling out of the garbage and recycling streams through creative reuse. All while trying to keep my home from literally becoming a dump.
The purpose of this commitment is to heighten my awareness, curiosity, and knowledge about material consumption and disposal and their effects on our home, city, and global environments. I plan to write about the process and collect and share what I learn here and in my blogs. By writing publicly about my personal relationship with trash and material goods I hope to keep myself honest and motivated, and to encourage thought, awareness and discussion elsewhere.
Check out the fr(ECO)system: Sort through my daily fr(ECO)logue, dive into my occasional fr(ECO)logicisms, and rumage around in my growing collections of creative reuse projects and ideas (mine and others') and information about waste management.
Waste reuse and reduction ideas
Other creative reuses
My burgeoning collection of information and links about our daily resource use and disposal
Hike Therapy (me again)
1. Acquisition and observation Watch as things comes into my home, and notice things I would normally throw away, donate, or recycle, as well as the few things I do throw away. I do my best to list all items that are ready to be in some way discarded or reused daily on my fr(ECO)logue to bring attention to their quantity, type, and the issues around them. I discuss my thoughts on the issues that arise along the way in fr(ECO)logism.
2. Research Consider the items and categories of items and begin reading and thinking about the consequences of and alternatives to this type of material production, disposal, and/or recycling. I will eventually share what I learn in my waste disposal section.
3. Action Collect and sort potentially reusable items and consider how to reduce my use of certain materials and reuse the materials I do to acquire. I will share potential reuses and my own projects in the fr(ECO)sourcing section.
A note about consumable items: I am not concerned (at least as part of this project) with consumable products (i.e., food, medication, and cleaning products and toiletries), and will not directly list or discuss these things here, except as they relate to the nonconsumable packaging of consumable products. You can assume I am composting compostable food, reusing certain inedible parts of food (e.g., fruit peels), and trying to minimize the amount of food I throw away by eating food when it is edible. I throw away anything else. I will not, however, be mentioning little bread scraps or bits of food scraped out of the sink drain or swept up from the floor that wind up in the garbage.
My primary motivation for undertaking this project is to continue to
explore issues involving conservation, ecology, and (anti-)consumerism.
When I first shared the idea of this project, however, my husband's
vision of a garage full of garbage promted him to (lovingly) suggest
that I might be turning into a bit of an eco-freak. The name
fr(ECO)logy is meant to reflect both the underlying gravity of the issues I am
working through, and the somewhat extreme approach I am taking through
this challenge, which is perhaps better seen as an interesting exercise
than as an attempt to singlehandedly change the world.
I have been mindful of my relationship to consumerism, materialism, and the Earth's resources for some time. But although I have already reduced the amount of stuff I buy, I've noticed there is still an enormous amount of material coming into my home each day. Food packaging, mail, my son's art projects, gifts, and basic health items use up a large amount of resources and space. Most of these things I recycle or throw away. I do this because of their simple and overwhelming abundance, though I know that a large percentage of these materials have life left in them. More and more, I have felt hesitation and guilt as I fill the garbage can and recycling bins with plastic, metal, paper and glass to haul to the curb each Friday morning.
As of just a couple of weeks into the project, I was already more than a little freaked out. I had an overflowing box of mail and other papers, packaging, and other small items in my closet, three bags of recyclables, and numerous small items with no home scattered through my kitchen and across my desk. But I also had only one small bag of garbage to take out, mainly non-compostable food. And I know that what is happening to my home is only, on a small scale, what is happening to the earth.
I am determined to find creative and productive use for my discarded items not primarily to be frugal, but to acknowledge the significance of our resources, and not to suggest we should all make our own paper and beads from our junk mail, but to explore ways of working as community members toward founding and participating in local reuse networks and becoming less reliant on overtaxed sanitation and recycling programs.
Thanks for checking out my project. Suggestions, questions, stories to share? I love feedback.
Contact me: frECOlogist@gmail.com