J500 Media and the Environment

How Convenient is “Convenient”? by julianat
February 26, 2008, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , , ,

I carried a bag of trash around for 24 hours. I’ve never been as intimate with my waste before, but at the same time I felt very disconnected.

Today was a bad day for trash , and this was due to the relative “convenience” of my waste. With sympathy towards Bobby’s post, I just didn’t have time to create a healthy lunch for myself, and had to resort to getting mysterious food from The Underground .

Some say ignorance is bliss, and sometimes I wish I could resort to that lifestyle. Before every action or decision I make, my mind initiates a long list of questions. Where did this come from? What is in this? How did it get here ? Who made this? Where will the unusable parts or trash go when I am through with this? The list goes on and on, and it can make life quite difficult and can make my conscience go nuts, but it is the consequence (and benefit to everything else) of my awareness.
Walking into the Underground made me really uncomfortable. It’s crowded, its noisy and everyone is flirting. I feel like my decision on what food to get and eat are being observed by everyone, and the notion of taking a huge Styrofoam plate for my salad makes me want to succumb to my empty stomach and run home for food.

What really is the convenience of these disposables? Not only does it wreck havoc on my conscience, but using disposable take out containers make up a large majority of waste and no where to put it.

Apart from my guilty consumption last night, I was also attending an “internationally themed” potluck for Environs, which meant for me, making about 40 delicious Vietnamese spring rolls. This lead to a disproportionate amount of personal trash, because I was cooking for about 25 people.

This waste from my cooking excursion included, plastic packaging for noodles, rice paper and tofu, as well as a lot of organic waste from preparing carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and herbs.

To offset my already abundant waste for the day, I knew I could do something with the peels and bits and pieces of unused vegetables. I unfortunately have no backyard and no garden, so composting was out of the question for me. Instead, I decided to save up these bits and pieces for a future vegetable stock! I bagged up the excess veggies, and threw them in a (plastic) bag and stored them in the freezer.

I felt a little better about diverting some waste, but it still makes me cringe to think of all the Styrofoam waste that the university and faculty and students partake in. When will KU wake up and become sustainable and KU Dining start using biodegradable disposables?

My Frozen Veggies

My bag of veggies for vegetable stock


A Day in Trash

The Recycling Center

The Recycling Center at my House


OK, I had to post one more photo because I saw everyone else had trashy pictures with their pets, and Ferdinand happened to be interested too

– Juliana Tran


8 Comments so far
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Ignorance is bliss… I think so, too. I forgot to bring my water bottle yesterday and ended up buying a bottled juice at Underground. I felt so guilty. But I wish more people feel like that about their waste, especially when I’m around campus. People print out and take napkin as much as they want. Places like Mrs. E’s make students desensitized to wasting food.

I like the idea of the vegetable stock! I should try it.

Comment by sachikom

Sorry, I forgot to put my name. ↑↑↑

Comment by sachikom

Your second sentence is amazing, and it really sums everything up. We have really taken advantage of throwing something “away” because the term is so vague and we have no idea where it actually ends up. And until we collect the trash ourselves, we never see how much is actually produced.


Comment by Lauren Keith

Exactly!! There is no such thing as a “free lunch”, it comes and goes , I feel like humans in a way are a reflection of their environment… including the landfills, which never go away or biodegrade due to lack of oxygen.

Comment by julianat


I can totally relate to you – your 3rd paragraph especially. I see people consuming, wasting, throwing everything away without a care in the world and I think, “Yeah, ignorance sure is bliss.” Like you, I also run through a L-O-N-G list of questions in my brain before making consumer decisions. I go to the grocery store for 10 things and it takes me about 45-60 minutes (on average) because I analyze every detail. I want to know what’s in it, where it’s from, how it was processed, is the packaging recyclable, how much does it cost, are there any cheaper options without sacrificing other priorities, etc. on and on forever…

You and Sachiko both mentioned guilt – stop feeling guilty and feel good about doing what you can! Nobody is perfect; don’t beat yourself up over every little thing. Your awareness and action are far beyond the average person, & you’ve got a lot to take pride in.

Overall, I really enjoyed your post! I love that your cat’s name is Ferdinand, so cute.

~ Sarah Hemme

Comment by shemme

I agree wholeheartedly with Sarah, guilt is not useful. You are doing so much, celebrate that. And lead by example. Trust me, people will join you in their own time, in their own way, by observing you. But if you must atone for your recycling sin, make spring rolls for class 🙂

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

I like that idea of guilt not being useful, but I do think that guilt can be turned into something useful. I think that sometimes guilt and faults can encourage us to be better people, and maintain our commitments.

P.S One of my biggest passions and the thing that gives me that warm feeling inside is baking and cooking for people, so if I ever catch up on all my readings, I will consider bringing some more treats for class!!!!

Comment by julianat

Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than the Underground. Everything seems so horribly unhealthy. When it’s so busy, I wonder if they have to cut corners in order to fill the needs of the hoards of students. Then there’s the countless pizza boxes, chick-fil-a wrappers and styrofoam cups. Goodness, it’s too much to bare…. yet somehow I manage to bare it about three times a week (yeah, I’m a hypocrite).

Your call to KU to up its sustainablity cred reminded me of this site I found a couple days ago. The Sustainable Endowments Institute recently released the 2008 college sustainability report card. KU got a C-.

Comment by travisjbrown

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