Trash. The average American makes 4.4 pounds of it per day according to the Environmental Protection Agency. How would our lives change if we stopped making so much?
My name is Skylar Rettig, and I’m a student in Woodinville. This is an issue I explored through a 30-day project at my school, trash.
The project had to include an activity that educates us about a problem facing our society. Deciding what I wanted to do for these four weeks came as a “eureka moment” for me. I stood up to throw my napkin away into an overflowing trashcan, and I realized that going 30 days zero waste perfectly challenged me and would educate me on a huge problem facing the world. I determined the guidelines to my project: I could compost, but can’t produce trash or recycling; and I could use toilet paper, something I didn’t want to compromise on.
Beginning the plan was a hard endeavor that required me to stop of all the trash-producing habits that I’ve gained in my life in a short period of time. On my first grocery shopping trip with this lifestyle to the local PCC Community Market, I struggled creating a complete meal using the fruits, vegetables, and bulk bin options. On the first day, I made a “trash jar” that held any unavoidable waste I made. This included stickers on pieces of fruit and medicine packaging. I quickly discovered that it was going to be a long four weeks as I removed all the toiletries that were packaged in waste in my bathroom, from bottled shampoo to boxed soap. I was also confronted abruptly by the paper towel machine in my school bathroom and almost unconsciously swiped my hand in front of the beeping sensor.
Throughout the project, my life was bombarded by trash almost every hour - in class, lunch, and at home. I soon found out how much of our lives are supported by waste.
Some of these modifications in my life I determined I would take into my lifestyle after the project like using less waste for groceries. Others were just too difficult to maintain for me, like having to use bar shampoo.
The way my daily routine so drastically changed put waste usage into perspective. Through this short, month-long practice, I have started to see the world in a different way. I formed the opinion that the environmental benefit this zero-waste lifestyle makes completely overrides any hindrance in my life caused by this approach.
I hope this article not only tells a story, but I hope it also helped anyone reading this to realize we can make small improvements in our life to help with our waste consumption.
Me, you, anyone can help our Earth, one piece of trash at a time.