It’s time for an audit. Not a financial audit, although I should probably be better with my budget. I’m interested in seeing how much plastic I generate. It is easy to tell myself that it’s not “that much” with weekly garbage and recycling pickups. Whatever I am generating will be around forever, even if it’s not that much. I’m willing to bet it is a fair bit though.
I am collecting and keeping all of the plastic garbage I generate for the summer 2017 season, from June 21 to September 22. Every plastic bag, bit of cling wrap, straw, and twist tie is staying with me. I’ll be looking at how the stuff is made, if it can be recycled, and, if so, what it is turned into. I’ll also be looking at where single use plastic ends up when it cannot be recycled.
What would make me want to live with all my garbage for the next three months? It mostly comes down to curiosity. I live in a time and place where my plastic garbage is taken away once a week, never to be seen again. It’s easy to minimize the impact of purchasing decisions when I’m not confronted with it. However, I am forced to see the impacts of our plastic culture on a daily basis. I live and work on the coast, spending lots of time on and near the ocean, where most of our plastic garbage ends up. Working in the whale watching industry in the Pacific Northwest gives me a front row seat to the state of our oceans and their inhabitants. It is easy to create a disconnect between individual choices and the ramifications of our throw away culture. I guess it’s time to take a look.
Many environenmental messages fall into the traps of being guilt based, or having solutions that seem unattainable to the average person. I’ll be looking at what decisions I can make, how expensive they are, how easy they are, and whether or not I am likely to stick with them. I expect some decisions will save me money, and some will be more expensive. I expect some decisions will be no brainers, and some will take a lot of focused thought. I probably should leave these expectations to the side.
So feel free to follow along. Maybe some of these insights are helpful to you, and some don’t apply to how you live. Maybe you already never use to go cups (Good on ya!), and maybe you eat take out as much as I do. Maybe you just want to see how much garbage one single millenial can create over the course of three months.