The Box of Shame

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


A summary of my first month living waste free:

To sum up, I have pledged to live waste-free for nine weeks (from January 29th to March 31st) in the spirit of RecycleMania – and just to show that it is possible! What I mean by waste-free is that I will not be sending anything to landfill; I will be recycling, composting, and using my reusable containers! I have been waste-free for about a month now, and am finding it even easier that last year – now that the University recycles all forms of plastics! I am planning all my meals ahead of time, making all my own foods from scratch, and buying ingredients by bulk in jars and reusable containers.

The first interesting experience I had was during my visit to the dentist. I hadn’t been in a few years, and forgot just how much waste they produce for a simple check-up: a disposable plastic ‘bib’ to protect my clothes, disposable plastic floss, a disposable cloth to wipe my face (wrapped in plastic), and a disposable plastic cup to rinse my mouth. That is insane! So I did the only reasonable thing to do: quickly hide the ‘waste’ in my pockets and in my bag whenever the hygienist left the room to later recycle and compost them on campus or at home.

Then there is the restaurant business; as most restaurants do not compost their left-overs, napkins or the lime they add on your glass of water, I had to carry them home to compost. I also had my first waste miss-hap last week; since the restaurant I went to last Friday was full, we took the meal to go in recyclable and compostable take-out containers. But it was only once I started to clean them that I noticed the waste: the lid for the aluminum plate (that keeps the meal warm) was a hybrid material! I was stuck, I had produced my first piece of waste…The lesson to be learned; avoid take-out containers, eat in!

All of the waste that I might accidentally produce during my waste free challenge goes into my box of shame (a small cardboard box I keep beside my desk to remind of any waste that I might produce). The box has its first deposit.

~brige - waste diversion coordinator
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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