The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

September 19, 2007

Tess’s Trash Challenge

I just read tonight that Tess Vigeland, of American Public Media’s Marketplace Money, is carrying the trash she generates for two weeks in order to raise awareness of America’s throw-away society.

Read About Tess’ Trash Challenge.

Vigeland is challenging Americans to carry with them all their waste for two weeks. I have decided to sign up for the challenge starting tomorrow (Thursday). I know I’m already documenting my plastic waste, but it will be instructive to see how much non-recyclable non-plastic waste I’m also generating. Hopefully not much at all. And hopefully this will encourage me to to a better job avoiding paper napkins and paper towels and make sure that anything that can be composted is composted.

Here are Tess’s rules for the challenge:

  • No kitty or doggie poo (it’s a health risk)
  • No carrying into restaurants or malls where I could get kicked out
  • Really smelly stuff goes inside extra Ziplocs
  • If it’s recyclable (or compostable), you don’t have to carry it around
  • Trash from work is included, as is trash from the rest of your household (i.e. if your honey tosses it at home, it goes with you…)

I am making some changes for my version of the challenge:

  1. I’m not using any ziploc bags unless I can reuse some that I already have. Nothing new.
  2. I’m not going to include my husband’s waste. As I’ve mentioned before, we lead very independent lives when it comes to shopping and purchasing decisions, so if he buys things for himself that don’t have some benefit for me, I’m not carrying them around with me.
  3. She seems to be carrying around her trash in a regular plastic garbage bag. I’ll be using either a paper bag or a BioBag instead.
  4. I see no reason not to carry my trash into a restaurant if there’s nothing icky in it. And since I compost and I don’t have pet waste, I can’t see why there would be.

If you decide to sign up for any part of the challenge, please let me know!

9/20 Update: I made a separate Trash Challenge Page to track my progress. Check it out.

Oh, and for those concerned about my friend who was involved in the car accident, he is fine. His car however, wrecked beyond recognition.

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10 years ago

I throw away about 4 or 5 bags of trash a week but I don’t really worry about it. Landfills are there to throw trash away. If the landfill gets full just cover it with dirt and make a new landfill. I never recycle. I also litter a lot too. I am a very wasteful person.

Beth Terry
10 years ago
Reply to  PaulCross

Waste is about more than simply landfill space. In fact, landfill space is the least of my worries. I’m more concerned about the environmental impact from manufacturing so much disposable stuff in the first place.

terrible person
16 years ago
terrible person
16 years ago

I know that I use a lot of paper towels and napkins in the course of my day. I wash my hands a lot. Is it better to have those electric hot air dryers in bathrooms, to save paper towel? But they must use a lot of electricity? Also, the paper towel gives you something with which to grasp the bathroom door handle, germy because of the small number of people who don’t wash their hands, on your way out. I don’t know — maybe the fear of germs on bathroom door handles is overblown. What I don’t understand is, why don’t bathroom doors open out? Then you could just sort of push on them with your shoulders, instead of having to grasp a handle and turn it. I should ask Donald Norman, the author of The Design of Everyday Things. It would be great if he could incorporate green design into his idea of human-centered design. I suppose I could use the bandanna which I usually carry to dry my hands and wipe my mouth, but again, I’m concerned about accumulated germs. Speaking of which, here is a story from NPR about how to clean fresh fruit and vegetables, of which I eat a lot. It turns out the best solution is a homemade one of vinegar in water (get it? “solution”? well, maybe it’s a suspension). Well, we’ve certainly got that around for other cleaning purposes.

terrible person
16 years ago

Hey, could you put your two graphs of plastic use on the same axes, so that they could be more easily compared? Or at least put them on equally long axes, maybe one above the other instead of next to one another? Again, that would facilitate comparison. Thanks!

Also, here is an article from the Marin Independent Journal in which the editors discuss delivery of the paper in plastic bags. Here is another one about how the town of Fairfax has banned plastic bags, and is getting sued by the plastic industry (under the name “Coalition to Support Plastic Bag Recycling”. Look out for deceptive names!)And here are some reader letters about plastic bags. We should all try to support the Fairfax City Council! They set an example for local governments everywhere!