Couple Lives Trash Free for One Year

green garbage project one year of trash photo

Image: Week 52, Green Garbage Project

Okay, "trash free" technically only applies if you consider that the small box of non-recyclables accumulated by Amy and Adam Korst now counts as collectible. The Korsts write in their blog, Green Garbage Project: "Oddly enough, this has become enough of a talking piece that we're unlikely to ever throw this stuff away."

After 52 weeks trying to live absolutely trash-free, the Korsts have inventoried the year's "failures". The final trash tally sums to a meager three pounds of garbage -- approximately the average daily waste tossed by a single American. Considering the year included moving to a new house, it is a remarkable and commendable achievement. What are the trash-traps that Amy and Adam Korst could not avoid, in spite of their dedicated efforts? Lessons Learned
The Korst's leftovers break down into 6 basic categories. And even this small amount of waste could be further reduced with tips the Korsts learned during their experiment.

The first category is worn out household articles, including pens, pet toys, and one light bulb. A refillable fountain pen and pencils counts as tip number one to further reduce this category.

The second category, bathroom waste, presents a great challenge to further reduction, and points out design flaws in the products upon which we rely. The Korsts provide useful reviews of items like low-waste toothbrushes, and bemoan the non-recyclable medical product packaging.

Amazing and Humorous
The small volume of waste from gifts demonstrates a truly amazing power of proselytization -- the Korsts had to train friends and relatives to give carefully. What remains lends the project a humorous note: a styrofoam cup from teacher appreciation week when the student council brought them a cup of coffee; popped balloons from the balloon hat given to one lucky winner each night at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

Another category customized for a chuckle is "Trash We Regret." Regrets include the all-too-common tragic story of being greenwashed into buying a re-usable substitute for single-use plastic produce bags which turned out to be sold in non-recyclable packaging and the mistake of enjoying Crackerjacks, unaware that the simple cardboard box remembered from childhood is now lined with a foil bag. Lesson learned: come prepared. Disposables like plastic gloves distributed at beach cleanup day can be avoided by bringing your own re-usables.

Trash Traps
The final two categories are not so funny. Those glued-on protective seals necessary to prevent the evil of mankind from tainting medical and food products constitute their own group of unavoidable waste. Finally, the miscellaneous category catches all the rest: those ubiquitous little tags, tapes and packing foam.

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