J500 Media and the Environment

Newspapers and Weight Watchers – My Trash by vincemeserko
February 26, 2008, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , ,

My current trash situation isn’t really indicative of the norm. My third roommate just moved out to pursue what I think will be a successful career. During his short tenure with us he set astounding records for waste (terrible terrible stench too – I became interested in incense soon after his arrival). Before he left he threw away half his stuff and gave some of it to me. We are running out of room in our garage for all the trash he left behind. He threw away numerous cardboard boxes, an entire sack of fine expensive clothing, and some inspirational weightlifting posters. His computer is still sitting in our living room waiting for a large man to come and pick it up. I’m considering recycling it or selling it on Ebay. It’s astounding the things rich people throw away. Our previous roommate (yeah, we’ve cycled through quite a few – apparently my current roommate and I are not super fun to be around or something). Well, this guy, besides doing silly things like accidentally enrolling in classes at the Edwards campus, used to eat at Taco John’s 3-4 times a week. He ate every single meal at a fast food establishment and somehow maintained his weight of approximately 115 pounds. This produced an unbelievable amount of trash! Now there’s only two of us left and we do a pretty good job of keeping things under control. We produce about 20-25 pounds of trash between us a week which isn’t bad. He eats a lot of sandwiches and I eat a lot of Honey Bunches of Oats. I also inadvertently bought those Smart Ones Weight Watchers meals awhile ago. Now I eat them all the time. For dinner typically I eat chicken nuggets and possibly a canned vegetable. If I’m feeling adventurous I try a cheap box of “Thai” food, that Simply Asia stuff. (I’m still waiting for Simply Turkmenistan or Simply United Arab Emirates). Anyway, neither of us are wasteful or voracious consumers of anything. As echoed in much of the reading for this week, the real problem is our (U.S. population)’s insatiable need for things and the tremendously wasteful production processes that make help us fulfill that need. Neither one of us need a lot of things.

My trash is mostly cardboard and waste leftover from my Friday morning McDonald’s routine. As alluded to in an earlier post, every Friday for the past eight years I gobble down a plate of pipin’ hot McDonald’s flapjacks and 2-3 cups of pipin’ hot McDonald’s coffee. I get McDonald’s coffee 3-4 days a week. There isn’t much virtue in my vice, but the new McDonald’s coffee is great … and ultra-caffeinated. I can’t help but wonder though why McDonald’s needs to use so much styrofoam packaging. They agreed in 1987 to phase out styrofoam, but they still use a tremendous amount of it. It provides the “plate” and “lid” for my flapjacks. They do deserve some credit, however, for listening to consumer disapproval and at least trying to uphold bits of their corporate social responsibility statement.

While my roommate and I aren’t beacons of a zero-waste lifestyle, we do, however, have an almost militant adherence to recycling … and for good reason. Between the two of us we drink 4-5 12 oz. cans of Coke and Pepsi a day. I also have a very obsessive-compulsive relationship with newspapers. I read 6-7 every morning and stack them in the corner. I make sure the stack is perfectly even. When my roommate throws his UDK on the stack (making it uneven) I become furious. By the end of the week my newspaper stack is about a foot and a half tall and it all gets recycled. Sometimes I stare at the stack with a marveling gaze. We’re not perfect but we aim to try.

Here’s my garage:


The (in)famous newspaper stack – notice how uneven it is


Me being buried by trash


Me buried in trash and holding up engine coolant


-Vince Meserko

6 Comments so far
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[…] vincemeserko wrote an interesting post today on Newspapers and Weight Watchers – My TrashHere’s a quick excerptI also inadvertently bought those Smart Ones Weight Watchers meals awhile ago. Now I eat them all the time. For dinner typically I eat chicken nuggets and possibly a canned vegetable. If I’m feeling adventurous I try a cheap box of … […]

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Hilarious! You had me laughing from beginning to end. I love that it was a group from Vermont that took on McD’s.

If you’re interested…

~ Sarah H

Comment by shemme

Well I am amazed who finds you – first the beard people and now the Weight Watchers. You are gonna have some OCD-cult following after this post! Maybe your trash doesn’t say that much about you, but your diet does? The dormant mother in me wants to say something about eating vegetables. . .
Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Curious Vince,

You crack me up with every post. I can’t tell you how much I identify with your post, not only do we both eat the Smart Ones meals but we’re both styrofoam-using, coffee drinking, vegetable eaters.

My roomate Samm Hamm (yeah, I know, it rhymes, I laugh everytime I say it 🙂 eats so much fast-food and somehow still maintains her 115 lb. body also, it makes me want to give up on excersize all together because obviously it doesn’t matter. At least I can still recycle.

-Sarah Nelson

Comment by snelson33

Simply African…wonder what cheap concoction that would comprise. But as to consumption and the excesses that go with it, I’m heartened that that’s an observation you as an American have. I’m truly astounded at the stuff students throw away – items that not even a well-healed businessman back home would shirk at carting away. Television sets, microwaves, expensive clothes as you said, computers and a whole assortment of valuable items that would go a long way to putting a smile on the faces of a poor families living in vast squatter settlements. It saddens me to think of the huge social inequalities between wealthy western countries on the one hand and developing and third world nations on the other. And whilst you’ve every reason to be concerned about how such waste is disposed of by you and your roommates – plastics here, newspapers there – take heart that for millions of impoverished people, the battle for daily survival supersedes the noble goals of recycling.


Comment by denzylj

Denzyl – I think the sentiment of over-consumption may actually be more widespread than you may realize among the American population. It is also politically-neutral. I was reading this morning in the Lawrence Journal-World a column by the ultra-conservative Cal Thomas about the U.S. “pursuit of stuff.” I am really sympathetic to the plight of others and respect your view immensely as someone who has traveled worldwide. It’s a perspective I cannot duplicate. I realize my recycling is terribly insignificant in comparison to the dire impoverishment that entrenches so many. Should I stop recycling because it’s globally insignificant? Probably not. What I’m doing is hardly noble, but at least it’s a start. It’s a very small contribution I realize. A really interesting couple of books done on the subject of globalization and income disparity were written by journalist/author Naomi Klein. I highly recommend the book No Logo. Her newest is called “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” I’m looking forward to checking it out soon. Here’s the aforementioned Cal Thomas article:


Here’s Naomi Klein’s website:


-Vince Meserko

Comment by vincemeserko

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