donate buttonThis is Chip’s second entry in the series “Grist dared me to make a change.” Read the first, third, fourth, and fifth here. And support his dare with a gift to Grist.

candy wrappersThis isn’t my garbage. Not yet, anyway.Courtesy of pinguino via FlickrSo far, we haven’t produced much garbage. I’m not bragging. Honestly, it’s a little disappointing. I’m carrying around this white plastic Seventh Generation trash bag, and the bag itself is more garbage than what’s in it.

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We started yesterday. It was chaos. My wife, Jenny, was supposed to get home at 5, and instead she got home around 8. To keep everybody happy, we had chocolate. My daughter and I had these bite-sized Green & Black’s chocolate squares we got with a restaurant receipt a while back, and my son had a Hershey’s Kiss. So those wrappers are in the bag. I had a Clif bar. That wrapper is in the bag. Our garbage makes us look like sugarholics.

 Jenny came home. We had wrapped half a cherry pie in plastic wrap (many of the cherries from our own yard), then finished the pie, so the plastic wrap is in there. Usually, we wash plastic and reuse it, but this stuff was just nasty and unsalvageable.

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When I did this back in college, I had less control over the waste I produced. For example, I went to the dining hall in the evening for an omelet and it was served on a paper plate. So I carried around this gross, sodden plate for a week, reusing it every night. Now, I wouldn’t use a paper plate. And even if I did, it could go in the compost.

That’s the other thing — I can compost now, so I don’t have food waste. And there’s more recycling than we had in college. It’s not that my family and I haven’t created waste; it’s just that most of it isn’t garbage. We made Indian food the other night, but the chickpea can and the tomato can were recyclable. We finished a bottle of lemonade, but it was glass, so it’s recyclable. We order stuff from Amazon, but those cardboard boxes get recycled.

I hope to have trashier stories for you as the week goes on. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, how about a non-wasteful gift to Grist?