365 Days of Trash

one man's quest to understand his impact

I recently read about a guy who calls himself Sustainable Dave. Dave got obsessed with all the trash he creates, really started wondering about it and noticing that people don't deal with their trash so well.

Loads of us recycle, but we're still generating trash by buying stuff in stores from Price Chopper to Best Buy (as opposed to from a farm, small craftsman, etc. Those generate trash too, just a lot less). Sustainable Dave decided to take drastic action. He decided that to truly understand his impact, he needed to save all his trash for 365 days. All of it. He decided not to save things like dog poop or medical waste--things that could have health implications--but he did decide to save trash he generated when he was out or his house. He's blogged about the project at 365 Days of Trash, and listed the rules he lived by for all of 2008.

What I found disturbing: when I read the complete list of trash he created during his year, I was shamed and embarrassed to note that my own trash output is a lot more. What I'll do: try to reduce junk mail by calling catalogs and getting off their lists.

On Dave's site I linked through to The Rubbish Diet. The question posed there: can an average person really create Zero Waste? From 10-17 March 2008, one British mother tried. She only threw out a plaster (that's British for a band aid).

Are you ready to take her challenge? Read her account and let us know. Please, no bad photos of homemade potato chips. One of my favorite sections: how to be a rubbish cook. It's not as gross as it sounds.

-Berne Broudy