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Trash Talk

2012 April 26

By Matt Bogoshian

I did an initial post back on March 6th called Getting a Personal Tune-Up. Well I’m half way through the Trash on Your Back Challenge and wow, I’m learning so much about my own daily habits by carrying with me the trash I generate. The trash on my back has served as a present reminder that I need to start making lifestyle changes to generate less trash and prevent pollution.

Before the challenge began the organizers had a telephone conference with the university scientists and researchers who are spearheading the analysis of each participant’s trash as it compares to the norm for Americans in several categories. More on that in the future, but here’s what’s going on now….

Day one began on Earth Day, last Sunday. My wife and I were hosting family and friends in our apartment and I started the day off with an egg breakfast. Dutifully, I cleaned the egg shells and put them in my trash bag thinking, no problem, egg shells are light… I’m off to a good start.

I then took a quick read of the newspaper on-line and we made our way down to the Mall for the Washington, DC Earth Day events. Sadly it was cold and raining, but the concert went ahead as planned. My band and I played a few tunes before the head liner Cheap Trick which was great. Here is a picture of me sporting my trash on stage.

Throughout the day my food and drink intake led to me having to carry around numerous cups and other paper products. It didn’t take long for me to see that these kind of “on the go” containers are a good waste reduction target. All day I kept thinking that if I had brought my reusable thermos I could have enjoyed my coffee and soda without having to carry around those plastic cups.

The next morning I didn’t want to wake my house guests so I skipped making my usual homemade lunch….ouch. I had to buy a cafeteria lunch and got another disposable container to carry around.

Small items really add up. Just washing my hands in the restroom at work has made me more aware of the number of paper towels I use. As such, I started keeping the towel for later use. I now see better how air dryers can make a true difference. I’m realizing the list goes on and on and small everyday choices do have real environmental consequences.
Stay tuned…..

About the author: Matt Bogoshian is Senior Policy Counsel for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Matt is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. April 26, 2012

    Love this idea! If there is a poster (electronic would be best, no waste!!) I would pass it to my neighbors, coworkers, sports clubs we participate and kids’ schools. Maybe I will be brave and have a Trash on Your Back competition coming soon ~

  2. May 9, 2012

    Great post Matt. You’re right, it’s the little changes that make a big difference. Simply by focusing on using reusable items instead of throw-away alternatives (paper cups, paper towel, plastic bags, etc…) you can make a big difference. Maybe not so much in the short term, but think about how big a change just one person can make over the course of a year…5 years…a lifetime. It’s amazing!

  3. Marc permalink
    October 1, 2012

    It is definitely going to have to be a collective effort. Joe, your point about the difference made over time is also true for the masses. Think about the effect hundreds of people could have in a short amount of time just by making minor adjustments.

  4. Richard Ross permalink
    December 12, 2012

    This is an interesting challenge. It really is hard to see how much we consume on a daily basis when we throw things out immediately, and have our trash taken from our homes on a weekly basis (not to mention trash is deliberately kept out of sight).

  5. JP Brown permalink
    February 12, 2013

    Marc, now you have me counting the amount of paper towels I use. It is amazing how much we use and waste. But with conscience efforts we can make this world a better place.

  6. Diana Dehm permalink
    June 15, 2013

    Thanks to Matt Bogoshian, one of our original “TRASH ON YOUR BACK” Challengers we have learned so much through hands on experience, about our own personal trash impact on the planet! Join us for the TRASH ON YOUR BACK 5 DAY CHALLENGE in 2014 with other brave trash challengers from around the world!

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