J500 Media and the Environment

Don’t read that trash. Read this. by Lauren Keith

photo by Vitor, flickr.com

It’s nice that this assignment is over. I can finally take a load off. Or out.

Actually, the amount of trash that I generated in the first day was not even worthy of a picture, so I extended the assignment’s time frame to cover from Friday until five minutes ago, and I’m still simultaneously intrigued by and disappointed in my waste.

I guess I’m not as “wasted” as I thought I was.

This is all of the trash generated over the past five days.


Including (but not limited to):

-junk mail and magazine inserts
-maybe the worst bagel I’ve ever had
-far too many receipts: And how can I go to both Wal-Mart and The Merc? I only bought a pack of stickers, and I died a little when I walked inside.
-Waffles, constituting at least 30 percent of my diet.
-Dr Pepper, the breakfast of champions
-plastic wrap from leftovers, sticker packaging and the top of crouton bags

When separated into recyclables, the picture is a little different (separated by the red plastic line from my new bag of cheese. I better get some “reuse” points there).


During the tour of Hamm Landfill, Charlie Sedlock said that about 80 percent of the trash was fibrous products, like cardboard, something that I couldn’t believe. What about all of those diapers, food scraps and unshredded personal data from the University?

But then seeing my own trash, I would guess that Charlie’s estimation is accurate.

I was really proud of how much of my waste could be recycled, but I seem to have forgotten the less popular Rs. Even if I am recycling, I am still consuming.

I’ve never been happy about being below average, but these are pictures that I could post on the refrigerator that Mom would be proud of.

As long as they aren’t on a piece of paper.

—Lauren Keith

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3 Comments so far
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I’m like you, Lauren. I thought I was pretty wasteful, but I guess I really wasn’t. I just had a lot of Kleenix (I suffered from a brief cold) and some papers. No biggie.

But you make a good point: That just because we are and can recycle does not mean we aren’t reducing our use. Those other two Rs (reduce and reuse) are just as important as recycling. I seem to have just stopped at the recycling part.

Great post.

J.J. De Simone

Comment by jjdesimone

Actually, I think the order is important and telling. ..Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Limit waste, use everything you can, and then resort to recycling. Nice post, Lauren. You definitely inspired me!
Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Great post, Lauren.

I still thought I saw more plastic than “fibrous waste” in the landfill, but maybe not. Businesses use a lot more waste than individuals, it seems, and their waste is largely of the “fibrous” variety. I know I open probably 5-10 boxes of cardboard a day at work, whereas my personal waste doesn’t compare.

Bobby Grace

Comment by bobbygrace

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