The average household in USAmerica throws away 4.5 pounds of garbage PER PERSON, per day! The Riot for Austerity target is 10% of that, or 0.45 pounds per person. The main things that add unnecessary weight to the trash are 1) food scraps and other organic matter; and 2) things that could be recycled.
Here’s a couple weeks worth of my trash. Since I compost and recycle, the trash is very lightweight, not to mention relatively odor-free and not drippy or gunky. I always say composting is a great way to avoid “gross” trash, smelly slimy trash can, etc., so it’s well worth doing even if you don’t garden. Since my trash isn’t slimy or gunky, I need no trash-can liners — but I do line the bottom of my can with used cardboard or newspaper just in case. The cardboard or paper liner itself gets composted once it becomes soggy (from the occasional stray drop of liquid) or starts to absorb odors.
The trash filled most of a 5-gallon can (top photo), but it was mostly bags and thin plastic wrap, so I was able to condense it all into this one bag, which originally served as packaging for frozen chicken nuggets (a freegan acquisition from a friend who purchased the product and ended up not wanting it).
Revisiting the other contents of the trash (middle photo), I realized that a couple of the plastic containers would be good trays for beading projects. And the potato-chip bag, turned inside-out, serves as a waterproof, solar-reflective container for a spare bicycle-tire tube which I keep in my bicycle basket (bottom photo). All in all, hardly any trash! In all, the trash I ended up putting out into the actual garbage collection this time weighed about a pound. For two weeks!
Trash is one of the categories where I typically find it very easy to have a low footprint. I don’t buy a lot of new stuff or packaged foods. Also, a lot of my “trash” is stuff I scrounged in the first place, as opposed to purchasing; for example, furniture or pots found at curbside, or clothing inherited from friends who were purging their closets. But there have been times in my life when I’ve generated higher volumes of trash, such as when moving to a new place, or doing a major decluttering project.
There are seven Riot for Austerity categories, and most folks find it easier to meet the targets, or make progress, in some categories than in others. And most of us find ourselves in temporary circumstances where our footprint goes higher than we wish. No worries; that’s one of the major benefits of having multiple categories!
The Riot categories are Gasoline; Electricity; Home Oil/Gas; Garbage; Water; Consumer Goods; and Food. You’ll be hearing more about these in future posts.