My Trash Week


This past week, from April 10 to 17, I carried around trash in a small, drawstring bag that I duct-taped a trash liner into. Every snack wrapper, tissue and napkin I used was placed into this bag, so basically, I was transporting a miniature garbage dump everywhere I went  for a week.

Sounds disgusting? I agree.

The reason I’ve had this “trash week” is because I am taking AP Environmental Science. Right now, we’re learning about waste, how much human beings create and the effects of it. This past week we were assigned to keep track of the paper, plastic and food waste we produced. As an extra credit assignment, students were given the opportunity to carry around the trash they produced for the next week. So obviously – for the sake of my grade – I agreed.

This past week was, to say the least, interesting. Every time I finished a bag of pretzels or wiped my runny, allergy-suffering nose, the trash would go into the bag. I brought the bag to school everyday, and for the first few days, my mom kept asking me why I was bringing gym clothes to school. As the bag kept growing, all I could think when going in between classes or when leaving school was, “I’m carrying around literal garbage, and no one knows.”

While I was constantly grossed out by this idea, I definitely learned a lot from this experience. I became more mindful of the amount of trash I produced, and I stopped myself from eating snacks in bags or other disposable wrappers because I didn’t want to have to carry them around.

While I tried to get every piece of trash and solid waste I produced into the bag, I know I still missed some pieces and parts because it’s a habit to throw things away properly in a garbage can. Even with these missing pieces, my bag was completely full at the end of the week, and I was amazed at the amount of solid waste I was able to produce.

While I don’t think everyone needs to carry around their trash for a week to learn this lesson, I think it’s important that we all become aware of the overwhelming amount of solid waste we produce daily and try our best to limit that waste. This can be done by the simple steps we’ve learned since kindergarten: reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American produces 4.40 pounds of trash per day. In one year that adds up to 254 million tons of trash. That is too much trash and waste for our environment to keep up with, and if we want to keep this beautiful Earth as our home, we have to do something to decrease this number. We have to reduce our waste to save this world, and we can do so by starting with you and me.