“Whatcha gonna do with all that junk … ?”
Think you are keen and green? Are you willing to “walk the talk?”
The Sustainability News & Entertainment for the Planet channel (formerly Radio Green) has issued a five day challenge called “Trash on Your Back.”
That’s right. For one week Sustainability News proposes you carry all of your garbage with you, wherever you go – to explore how much refuse your lifestyle produces and how to cut back.
The scheme – scheduled to take place April 22 to 27, 2012 – is a repeat of a 1980s experiment, which was spurred by student activists at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College. At the time, the environmental movement was just gaining steam and recycling was still a new concept. But then-undergraduate Drew Jones said, “We wanted to bring it to a higher level.”
Jones and friends enlisted 120 fellow students and faculty to carry their trash around in clear plastic bags, for one week. “Every pizza box, beer can, plastic fork … all went into the bag; to class, to the gym, to parties ….” recalled Jones, now with Climate Interactive.
The plan was to not modify behavior but even so, Jones said, “People would do anything to avoid adding to the plastic bag!” Participants started using real silverware, bandannas as napkins … “It was like walking around with a different set of glasses,” he revealed, with participants’ experiences a “radical transformation” as they had a chance to see the long-term implications of their actions.
While Scouts and wilderness campers have long known about packing out their trash, four years ago staffers at Design Mind, a business/technology/design firm, decided to live without trash cans for eight months, and blog about their experiences.
Sustainability News CEO Diana Dehm hopes Trash on Your Back participants also will weigh in on the challenge – literally and figuratively: reporting the weight of their garbage, and posting “thoughts, pictures and insights” on their Facebook page. She expects the exercise will encourage people to buy (and hence throw away) less, promote zero waste and spur the development of greener, safer products. “We are all in this together, leaving a better planet for our next generations,” she added.
Anyone wanting to take it a step deeper can investigate the No Impact Project: a “one week carbon cleanse” which involves day-by-day activities related to transportation, energy, food and water consumption and of course trash. Using an online course and manual, founder Colin Beavan prompts participants to sort and evaluate their garbage; dividing it into stuff used for 10 minutes or less, and items used more than 10 minutes.
“It’s not about giving up creature comforts,” Beavan proposed, but testing whether modern conveniences actually make people happier, or “just eat away at your time and money.”
“And I learned that yes, sometimes less is more,” he proclaimed.
Trash on Your Back week begins March 19, worldwide.