The Project


Juniper dorm, a small building with approximately 27 residents at Lewis and Clark College, has decided to experiment with going trash-free for two weeks. We, the residents in Juniper, are all part of the PEAS (Pioneers for Environmental Action and Service) community. At a hall meeting we all agreed that this would be both a fun and challenging group activity that would teach us a lot about our waste stream and the ideals of a "low-impact" lifestyle.


Objective:

The primary focus of these two weeks is to eliminate the amount of waste in our dorm that would go into a landfill; we are going to continue recycling and composting as before. 

The goal is not to simply throw out our trash somewhere else; we have agreed to be mindful of what we purchase over these two weeks, with the goal of not buying anything that is only used briefly and then thrown away. We have a bin full of jars and reusable bags that we are sharing for the two weeks to use when we go to the store. This way we can all purchase bulk food and avoid non-recyclable packaging and bags. 

There has been and will continue to be a strong focus on the educational aspects of dorm projects like this. We have developed a list of focus questions for these two weeks that we will discuss and try to answer when we're done with the experiment. We understand that, with current lifestyles, it is not practical to shift immediately to a completely trash-free dorm. Instead, this experiment is designed to explore what a "low-impact" lifestyle might actually look like. Our focus questions include:
  • What fundamental obstacles are there in trying to life a life-style that does not generate (non-recyclable/compostable) waste?
    • What obstacles are there specifically for trying to implement this ideal in a community with a relatively large number of people in it?
    • In what ways does living in a large community make an endeavor like this easier or more feasible? In what ways does it make it more difficult?
  • What non-recyclable/compostable waste were we unable to avoid purchasing over these two weeks? 
    • What would have had to happen or change to prevent this waste? 
    • Even if there weren't alternatives available at the time, do any feasible alternatives currently exist?
  • Which aspects of our life-styles and decision making processes outside the dorm were most effected by this endeavor?
    • What was most challenging? Was it surprising?
    • What was easiest about the change?