David Chameides has a really messy basement. Besides all the things most normal people store down there, David has all of the trash he has created in the past year. David starting storing his trash in December and since then he’s been logging his daily output on his blog, 365 Days of Trash. Why? Here’s his explanation:
"The point is to better understand and therefore limit my footprint on the planet as far as my waste stream is concerned. It's my belief that we are all so far removed from things (waste, oil, water, consumption) that we don't see the consequences, but if we did, we would change our ways. It's my hope that by going through with this project, others will begin to think about their own consumption/waste streams and learn from my experience, and that I will in turn learn from theirs."
Time profiled David today and asked him how he stores his trash. He says a tin box holds bags of waste paper and cans of garbage hold the rest. All the organic waste goes into a worm composter that breaks down leftover food. Here’s a typical load:
Day 259 - Tuesday 9/16/08
- 4 small bags of chips - garbage
- 1 parking pass - worms
- 1 wristband - garbage
- 1 paper envelope - worms
- 1 cotton candy cone - worms
- 1 mailer - repurposed
- 1 staple - garbage
- 1 ticket booklet – worms
David says he’s decreased the amount of trash he produces significantly since he first started collecting it, simply by not buying things. He estimates he’s kept a little more than 30 lbs of trash since he started, while the average American throws out around 1,700 lbs. of trash each year.
David says that while most people recognize that littering is wrong, many of them don’t realize the impact of taking out the trash. Big cities like New York now truck their garbage hundreds of miles, which means energy and carbon emissions. In fact David was inspired to start his year of no trash after visiting his own community's landfill: "It's nearly 40 miles away, and they have 13,000 tons of trash coming in every day. It's going to close in seven years, and then they'll have to ship the trash all the way to Arizona."
Learn more about recycling.