Trashed…What One Man Learned from Not Throwing Away Anything for an Entire Year
Hey Stony Brook!
First off, in case you haven’t already heard, the Sustainability Studies Program here at Stony Brook (in conjunction with the Humanities Institute) is presenting a plethora of premier programs on sustainability and the environment! These fantastic talks are open and free to all SBU students and staff, lasting about an hour or two in duration. They are WELL worth your time; you will learn so much and meet some of the most highly regarded environmental activists and academics in the nation! Click here to see the full schedule.
But there is one speaker I’d like to feature because what he has done is simply…well, crazy!
So here’s the story: Dave Chameides came to Stony Brook University on Wednesday, October 2 to give a talk titled: “Chasing Sustainability: Visualizing Change“. In his talk he informed his audience that 11 years ago, he had been consuming and throwing out material goods in much of the same way that most people do; you know, “He drove to the market, recycled when he could, didn’t litter too much, and generally tried to be a good guy.” Dave, a two-time Emmy Award winning cameraman and DGA director for shows like the ER, Third Watch, and Studio 60 was living a pretty good life. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Well, things changed for Dave when his wife became pregnant with the couple’s first child. Dave was suddenly struck with the realization that, in Dave’s words: “I suddenly had to step it up.” He incrementally took steps to reduce his impact on the planet: buying a Prius (later upgrading to a veggie-oil powered vehicle), installing solar panels on his home, and reducing his use of plastic bags. But to him, this was not enough. He wanted to know, “How much trash am I really throwing away?”
So, on January 1, 2008, Chameides aka “Sustainable Dave” stopped taking out the trash and recycling for an entire year! He started by keeping all the waste in his basement, and keeping a blog detailing the contents of the trash, called 365 Days of Trash.
So what did Dave learn?
- That we–even the most seemingly eco-conscious of us–throw out A LOT of stuff! In all, he and his family totaled 28.5 pounds of trash in a year.
- That recycling is great, but never using something in the first place is even better!
You can actually visit Dave’s Trash at The Museum of Trash in Hartford, Connecticut, where it (hopefully) inspires others to be more conscious about the way they consume and trash their garbage.
Today, Dave speaks and updates his 365 Days of Trash blog with news, tips, and his thoughts on trash.
Three EASY ways to reduce the amount of trash YOU throw away RIGHT NOW:
1. Use reusables! From water bottles, to shopping bags, to batteries, and more, reusable is the way to go! Think about all the plastic bottles and bags you’ll be saving from landfills or recycling bins! When it comes to clothing, try to buy high quality pieces made from natural fibers that are durable and will last you a long time.
2. Only buy/make as much as you will eat! Food waste is a HUGE problem… If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, start retraining your brain to think, how much am I really going to eat? If you have leftovers after eating or cooking a meal, save ‘em for the next day, don’t throw them out (also, leftovers can be an awesome and sustainable next-day lunch, so long as they are packed in reusable containers!). Aside from only buying and cooking as much food as you know you can eat, start a compost pile or bin (if possible) in your yard!
3. Only press “PRINT” if you know you need it: Ok, so how many times have you been at a SINC site and the printer somehow went whacky and spit out like 20 sheets of nothing that you did not need? Before you can hurriedly scramble and hit the “CANCEL” button, there they are. Waste. And where do all those messed-up printed pages go? The gi-normous recycling bins that line the perimeter of every SINC site! Be sure to double-check print settings and the document you are printing before clicking “OK“!
Check Dave’s 365 Days of Trash blog for more and constantly updated information pertaining to waste.
Thanks, Dave, for teaching us so much about trash!
And with that, as he likes to say, “no one can do everything but everyone can do something.”
peace. love. run.
If you’d like to be involved in helping change the future, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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