Saturday, January 3, 2009

Takin' Out The Trash

A little bit of fun from the front lawn the other day....more on the way.




Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Final Numbers

Today was extremely crazy for a lot of reasons but I did manage to do a final tally with a real scale and get some numbers. I was hoping to get to a wrap up post as well, but that will have to wait. Perhaps its for the best as I'll have day or two to reflect. That said, throwing something "away" this morning was an extremely odd experience, one that in all truth, made me feel uneasy. I don't think I will ever think the same after this experience, and that's a good thing.

So here ya go. Some numbers are different than last month due to a more accurate scale. Truthfully, better than I had thought.

30.5 Pounds

19 Pounds

Plastic Bags
4 Pounds

12 Pounds

Misc. Recycling
26.5 Pounds

69.5 Pounds

9 Pizza Boxes

11 Tetra Paks

153 Glass Bottles

14 Cups

2 Aluminum Cans

64 Plastic Bottles and Jugs

8 Plastic Yogurt Tubs w/Tops

8 Old Paint Cans

So there ya go.  Pretty shocking.  If all goes well tomorrow I'll have pictures and more up.  Stay tuned.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And that's all she wrote

Well, there you have it, my 365th day of blogging my trash. I have to be honest, it was a little odd doing that for the last time, but having said that, quantifying everything like this is not something i will miss.

For those of you wondering, I was thinking of holding off on the paint cans and sink faucet until tomorrow, when they wouldn't count, but I figured that wasn't really right, so there they are.

As to what happens next, well, this is only the beginning.  I'll post up a finale post here tomorrow night (most likely) as I may have a few fun things to mention and show, and I'm completely zonked from programming all day (if you can call it that).

Having said all of that, I want to quickly thank everybody for all your support, kind words, and most of all interest over the last 365 days. Hopefully the new site will continue on in this tradition and we can all continue on the journey together.

There is one person i feel that i should single out on this, my last day though, and that is my lovely wife. There is no way i would have been able to do this without her understanding, patience, and old blender, and i can't thank her enough for that. Not many wives would allow their husbands to undertake something like this and I think I'm safe to say that I don't know how lucky I am to have her.

Thanks sweetie for hanging in there, for your love and support, and for never sending me down to sleep with the worms.

I love you.



Day 365 - Wednesday 12/31/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 candy bar wrapper - garbage
  • 1 paper bag with sticker on it - garbage/worms
  • 8 cans of old paint and other painting supplies - hazardous waste
  • 1 kitchen sink faucet - freecycle for pieces and garbage for broken spout
  • 2 heavy plastic box holders - garbage


Chico State University

I have been quite remiss in posting about Chico State University, a school I have grown quite fond of, but figured it was high time.  I'm going to have more on them on the new site which launches tomorrow, but for now, here are a few tidbits.

I have spoken several times up at Chico and it absolutely astounds me what they are doing there on the sustainability front.  They have a dorm that is sustainability minded, sharing and growing food, exploring the waste stream they create, and even composting with worms (how could i not love these folks?).  They also have an entire student led association that goes through all of the trash and picks out anything usable before it is discarded and then has it free for students to use.  Im not talking trash here (pun intended), I;m talking about a wrehouse full of boks, notebooks, stereo systems, you anme it, most of which is free for the taking.  It's truly amazing and a testament to what a dedicated few can do.

Last year, they actually undertook a two week trash challenge, but with a twist.  The trash had to be carried around and couldn't be farther than something like 10 feet from you at any time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my wife would not have gone for that.  Anyway, here's a note from one of the participants that i am just now getting around to.

As for Chico, well, much more to come.


Zero Waste Challenge 2008
California State University, Chico

The Zero Waste Challenge is an exercise used to demonstrate the linear way in which we use resources. The idea of the challenge is to carry around a transparent bag for two weeks, and into that bag goes everything that is not compostable, recyclable, or reusable. Essentially, anything headed to the landfill was placed in this bag—which had to be five feet or less from our bodies the entire two weeks. And whichever participant has the lease amount of trash generated by the end, is proclaimed the Zero Waste Champion.

This Challenge is important for not only just myself to do, but anyone and everyone. It is valuable because it is a quantified visual statement that says, “This is my waste and I take responsibility for it.” As a species, we deal with non-reusable waste in such a nonchalant manner. A piece of trash is simply tossed into the waste stream and forgotten about. Gone. Somebody else’s problem. ‘Away’. BUT this challenge is not only of value for the participants, but also in generating meaningful conversation with non-participants, and getting them involved through word of mouth. And, also, to get them thinking about their own waste patterns.

Things that come as a surprise not only to me but in general as to how few things that are plastic are not recyclable, despite the presence of the chasing arrows. Things such as Styrofoam, any type of single-use plastic container including coffee cups and red cups aren’t recyclable! As for the participants as a whole, it was great to hear the conversation of what actually goes in the bags: is this compostable? Is that recyclable? Can I reuse this? Not only was it a great visual for all of us, but many people enhanced their knowledge of the waste stream.

Two concepts really struck me during this challenge. One was the idea of ‘away’. In our vernacular, we simply say that something has gone away when we toss it into the trash can. Away is an adverb, not a place. Nothing can truly go away; it must go somewhere. For the purposes of this exercise, things go ‘away’ to the landfill. There is no such thing as ‘away’ in the physical sense. I have been to the landfill and it is eye-opening. The landfill in our county of Butte is 30 stories tall, the tallest person-made structure in the county. This ties into the second concept that sticks out to me: matter cannot be created nor destroyed. That is the First Law of Thermodynamics, which demonstrates that we live on a finite planet with limited resources. If we keep sending things to the landfills and not back into the natural capital of the earth, all living things will be at a disadvantage.

Everybody should at least examine their contribution to the waste stream. If the idea of living a life that feeds the system that feeds you appeals to you, then taking a look at waste habits is a good place to start. I have learned through the Zero Waste Challenge to Reduce, Reuse, and Compost. Recycling (downcycling) is ok too, but it is an energy intensive process. I encourage anyone to participate in their own personal challenge, or to get a group of people together and challenge each other.

Peace and love
Mark H
Senior, Environmental Justice Major
CSU Chico


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The One Week Challenge

Over 20 people from New Zealand, to Denmark, to here in the US of A have signed up and I'm hoping that more will join in. I'll send out a questionaire tomorrow to everyone who has emailed me that they are in and we'll see what happens. My original idea was to do this the first week of January, but in reality, feel free to fit it in in the first two weeks, or whenver works for you. The idea is to consume like you usually do, and see what you've got.

Contact me at the link up top if you're game, and if you haven't received the questionaire yet, please let me know via email and I will send it.



Day 364 - Tuesday 12/30/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 plastic tub ricotta cheese pp5 - recycle
  • 1 plastic tub cottage cheese pp5 - recycle
  • 1 plastic bag mozarella cheese - recycle
  • 1 cardboard box pasta - recycle
  • 1 glass spaghetti sauce jar - recycle
  • 1 cliff bar wrapper - recycle


Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 363 - Monday 12/29/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 coffee cup - garbage
  • 1 coffee cup sleeve - worms
  • 1 entry wrist band - turned into coffee shop for drink
  • 1 fedex box - repurpose
  • 1 catalog - worms
  • 2 staples from catalog - garbage
  • 2 wick holders from candles - garbage
  • 1 small plastic bag - recycle
  • 1 cardboard box potato pancakes - recycle
  • 1 plastic bag from potato pancakes - recycle
  • 1 video cassette wrapper - recycle


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Join Me For A Week?

As the year is nearing an end and the final days of my 365 are upon me, I had a thought. Well, actually, my good friend Zan had the thought, but she passed it on to me, and I'm keeping it.

I'll be done with my little experiment in just under two weeks and while that will hardly be the end of all of this, I was wondering (or more accurately Zan was) if anyone out there would like to step into my shoes for a week. How cool would it be if everyone on this list (its up around 1000 now and growing) were to keep all of their garbage and recycling for a week in order to see what you learn and how you change. If you can't keep it all, no sweat, keep a list of everything as you get rid of it. The list alone will be a real eye-opener and I'm certain it will have an effect.

I was thinking of asking folks to take a week between Jan 1 and Jan 15 and take the challeng, and ask if you'd write up a little paragraph or two about what you found out and how it affected your habits. If you'd email it to me, I can post them all up on a board on the new site and who knows, maybe others will want to join in. On second thought, if you let me know you are doing it, I'll just send out a questionaire and post those.

So how about it? Any takers? If so, you can email me at the contact link up top.



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Day 362 - Sunday 12/28/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 packet advil - garbage
  • 1 emergen c packet - garbage
  • 12 ozs paper from bills etc - worms/recycle
  • 1 pizza box - recycle
  • 1 9 volt battery


Some Answers

Over the past week, i have received a ton of emails, comments, and all sorts of other contact due to the yahoo piece that ran.  It's been fairly overwhelming and I have not been able to respond to everyone the way I'd like to, so here are some responses to a few things that i have been asked (and just a few things that I wanted to throw out there).

Why are you saving your recycling? I'm saving my recycling as well as my trash due to the fact that most things that aren't actually recycled, they re downcycled, meaning they are not turned back into what they were but into lesser objects.  Fr example, plastic water bottles do not become plastic water bottles but rather park benches and plastic lumber.  Recycling, while better than throwing something away, still takes energy and resources, so no a waste project like this would be lacking if I didn't include recycling as well.

What are you going to do with everything? The trash (the 32 pounds in the cardboard boxes) will be heading to the Museum of Trash in CT and the recycling may in fact be going to an artist who is interested in turning it into a work of art.  We'll see whether this works out or not.

What do i do with cat waste? Believe it or not, quite a few people emailed me this question.  Odd that.  i didn't have  cat, but here's a good link for some good eco-cat information.

What are you going to do at the end of the year? Well, I'm certainly not going to keep listing my garbage, that's for sure.  A lot of people have asked whether I will be continuing this experiment and the answer is no.  I think I have learned what I needed to learn and have passed on a fair amount of that knowledge.  Having said that, I am presently working on a new site that will go live on 1/1 at Sustainabledave.org.  I had hired a company to create it, but let's just say they proved to be less than ethical, so I'm making it myself.  It's definitely going to be a work in progress, but my hope is to create a community of like minded individuals where we can all work together to find answers to some of these problems we face.  I'm also shooting a lot of video so it'll hopefully be simple, fun, and effective.  

I'm also writing a book called 365 Days of Solutions, and working on turning my seminar into a free download to school kids all over the world.  Stay tuned.

Why didn't you post my comment?  Well, 9 times out of ten it's because your comment was obnoxious, not because i was ducking it.  I'm really happy to post contradictory comments and even engage in dialogue with those who have posted them, but not if they are nasty, so if that was one of yours, clean it up, re-post it, and I'll gladly put it on line.

Why didn't you respond to my hate mail?  See the previous question.

What can I do to help? The best thing to do is spread the word and let me know what your thoughts are.  I'm not a trained expert on any of this, but self taught so I'm hping a community of like minded committed citizens will make this and even bigger impact.

Have you given a backpack away yet? Nope, not yet.  I'll be giving the first backpack away on 1/31 and hopefully sharing a little video of it shortly thereafter.  After that, I'll be giving away one a month.