All of my garbage for the month of March
For the month of March, I took the Zero Waste Challenge at Sustainable Concordia. Every single thing that I could not compost or recycle for the entire month, I kept in a little bag.
Before it started, I vowed that I wouldn't have any garbage. But I realized on the first day that this would be way harder than I thought. I did end up with garbage, unfortunately, although definitely less than I would have made if I wasn't participating in the challenge.
So, how much garbage did I end up creating for the entire month of March? A half a pound, baby! Some of it was just random bits of plastic, like the part you peel off of a new margarine container. Some of it was embarrassing, like an individual creamer from tea at a restaurant, or just how many bags of chips I caved and ate during the month. And some of it seemed inevitable, like when my toothpaste tube ran out on the third week.
One sort of surprising thing that happened to me during the month is that I noticed garbage WAY more than I normally do. Walking down the street, I felt like I was aware of every single disposable coffee cup in someone's hand, every piece of litter around me. At a restaurant, I had to either eat ALL of my food, or tuck the rinds, teabags, or raw tomatoes (ew. I can try to eat them sometimes, but I'm not a fan.) into a napkin to compost later. At parties, I had to make sure that my beer caps were recycled, and that I didn't eat any candies or anything individually packaged. I was hyper-aware of everything everyone else ate, all the paper towels that ended up in the trash can instead of getting composted, all of the apple peels that get thrown out because composting really isn't available to most people, unless they do it at home.
Another, weirder thing happened to me. I became oddly attached to my trash. Keep in mind, I carried my bag of trash with me pretty much everywhere I went. At work, it was in my desk or in my backpack. At home, it was pinned up on the fridge. I kept some of the grosser trash (tofu packaging, sandwich wrappers) in the freezer so they didn't get rancid, but the rest of it came with me everywhere. But I felt like I knew really well what was in that bag at all times, and even now, almost a month later, I feel like I could make a list of everything in the bag. A coworker and I were discussing our trash, and we joked that we were going to to feel kind of sad to throw our trash away. I'm sure it sounds pretty weird, since most of the time we only keep trash for only a few seconds before throwing it in the garbage can. But bring it everywhere for a month, and suddenly it's not someone else's problem- it's yours.
I'm going to watch a documentary called The Clean Bin Project on Tuesday at Green Drinks downtown. It looks pretty cool; it's about this couple who have a competition for one year of who can produce the least waste. It'll be playing on April 24th at 6pm in the Thomson House basement on the McGill campus.
I'm an eco-conscious girl from Montreal, Quebec. I'm currently an adjunct science professor at Champlain College of Vermont (Montreal Campus). I'm interested in any opportunities to expand my experience with grassroots activism, climate change legislation, or environmental education.