Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reducing Waste

My husband comes up with several crazy ideas per week, examples:

"Hey let's drop everything and bum around Australia for a couple years!"
"Hey let's sell all our stuff and live in an RV!"
"Hey let's become beekeepers!"

Not even joking, those are all real things he has pitched to me. And they are almost always inspired by some crazy blog he just found. So one day, he found this crazy blog. The idea I want to tell you about was actually just one part of one post on the site (the Early Retirement Extreme idea was also presented to me, but I'll save that story for another day). Instead, his crazy idea was something like this:

"Hey let's start weighing our garbage and keep the data in a spreadsheet!"

My response was: "OK yeah, that sounds cool." Aaron pretty much did a double take. "Really? You're on board with this?! OK!"

So we came up with a plan, at the start of the next month, we were going to start weighing our garbage, and we are going to keep track of everything in a few different categories: Recyclables, Paper, Compostables, Bathroom Garbage, and Miscellaneous. We gathered up a kitchen scale for food waste, a bathroom scale for the heavier stuff, and different boxes/containers that we'll use to separate everything. Then before we take anything out, it gets weighed and recorded. So after the first 30 days, we'll have a sense of how much of our garbage is reusable in some way and how much is true waste.

Our motivation for this challenge can best be outlined by a few datapoints from this site:
In 2008, the average amount of waste generated by each person in America per day was 4.5 pounds. 1.1 pounds of that was recycled, and .4 pounds, including yard waste, was sent to composting. In total, 24.3% of waste was recycled, 8.9% was composted, and 66.8% was sent to a landfill or incinerated.
The first month is going to be our control period. We're not going to alter behaviors when it comes to our garbage, other than trying to collect a baseline. However, we will be doing research to find various ways that we can reduce our total waste. The second 30-day period will be spent trying to put those strategies to use! At the end of that period, we can compare the data to see if anything we did actually made an impact (on our impact). We plan to post our results (and strategies) along the way. So stay tuned.


  1. you guys put me to shame... my major excitement for the week was the new recycling dumpster in the alley! ;)

  2. In my defense those 3 crazy ideas are really one. My dream of being a nomad beekeeper in the outback...


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