I Will Take Pictures of My Trash For A Month


Two things I love: alliteration and not condemning our species to extinction.

A few months ago, I had a fun idea: challenge myself to live as close to a “no waste” lifestyle as possible for a month. The original title of this post was going to be “No Waste November,” but then I thought, “How do I employ my twenty-first century journalism skills to ensure a higher CTR?” Mind you, this is not click-bait. I am actually going to deliver. Here’s how:

I plan on producing minimal trash throughout the month of November. What I do produce, I will document (tastefully and aesthetically, of course, per M.O.) to observe the quantity and type of landfill I generate. Things that will be considered trash are any non-organic materials I discard to the landfill.

This idea is not new in the slightest. There have been people who have tried it for days and for weeks, and some who live the lifestyle 24/7. This idea is also not to shame people for creating trash because, obviously, all have to produce waste to exist. Not to mention, most of us have a bunch of other things to direct our physical and mental energy to every day.

My goal in attempting this is, rather, to simply to try and improve myself while hopefully inspiring others to take small steps to do the same. I want to a) become more aware of my own carbon footprint and b) find easy, reasonable ways to decrease it. I believe the biggest barrier to waste reduction isn’t the cost of the action itself, but our mentality around it.

It’s not our fault we were raised with the status quo of no limits and no consequences regarding our contribution to landfill. How could we know better if we never see or experience any of the negative consequences? I was, for the majority of my life, not even aware of how much trash I produced, nor that I had alternatives to producing it. Single-use consumption is as simple and engrained into our daily lives as eating, sleeping, and breathing. Nobody gives a second thought to every takeout box, coffee cup, or paper towel we go through. And why would we?

I want to circumvent shame and jump-start action. It is not our fault, not our personal deficiency, that we were born into this situation. But it is our reality that our only home in the galaxy needs help, and our moral imperative to act. I don’t care if it’s just one plastic straw you save by keeping a metal one beside your desk at work one day. I don’t care if it’s just three plastic bags you save by bringing your tote to Trader Joe’s this week. You have to start small, and once you realize how easy it is to change, keep doing it.

Skeptics will say that it’s all meaningless, and that one person can’t save the world. It’s a deep-cutting ridicule that kills grassroots change. I think about that myself a lot at night, filled with self-doubt, wondering if I should be putting the equivalent mental effort into advocating for carbon taxes or environmental protection law, or not getting on airplanes, or corporate policy change. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have that cost-benefit analysis figured out yet. But I feel like where I currently am at, I can at least spread awareness about the issue, and try to lead by example in my little social circle.

Anyway. Enough with the philosophical rambling and back to taking artsy pictures of trash. I’ll be posting weekly to my Instagram stories of my adventures in low-waste, and I hope you’ll join me in taking on this challenge–officially, if you like, but non-officially for sure. I’ll be posting plenty of examples of the easiest ways you can reduce your landfill. I’ll also try to write weekly updates on the blog about my strategies and struggles. I already anticipate my frequent work-related travel to be a challenge (curse you, travel-size liquids) but you know what? We’re going to make it work.



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