Chris McMichael

Trash Talk

There was an article passing through my social networks recently titled Trash is for Tossers. The author talks about her insanely conscious trashless lifestyle. This got me wondering what was in my trash. So I started trash digging to see what I could find and how I could improve my trash tossing skills.

The top items that I found in my trash: paper towel, product packaging, and greens plastic produce bags. I spent a moment brainstorming and searching the Internet to discover ways on how I could reduce my trash. After a few Google searches here is what I discovered.

A quick search on Google for ‘paper towels’ presented me with this sponsored sidebar link.

Wow! Was I really making unconscious purchase decisions? Apparently so. Next, I searched for ‘Kitchen Towels’ and I found a website which offers Cheap Kitchen Towels (89¢ for 6 towels).

There is a catch, since this is a wholesale website, a minimum purchase of 50 units is required. In total, that’s $36 with free shipping and 300 towels! Ok… 300 towels sounds a bit extreme and maybe it is but the order could be split with friends. For the price that I am paying for throw away paper towels, this is a no brainer and will last for quite a while. Speaking of buying in bulk brings me to my next point which is product packaging.

We have all purchased something with an unnecessary amount of packaging. Usually excess packaging can be found at wholesale establishments such as Costco. What if there is another way to reduce packaging? I believe there is but would involve a change in the behaviors of our manufactures, wholesalers, and consumers.

Imagine if products were shipped to stores in reusable shipping containers. Then imagine that inside of these shipping containers contained reusable packaging.

Now imagine how much money a manufacturer could save just on shipping their products alone. Reusable containers is not a new concept. If fact, large cargo ships with reusable steel containers can be seen entering the San Francisco Bay everyday. Yet, manufacturers still want to ship products in disposable packaging. Makes ZERO sense to me. Stores such as Costco could even change customer behavior by encouraging their customers to purchase and use plastic shipping containers to a customers residence. Is this achievable or this process too big to change? I don’t have the answer but I do believe that manufacturers have opportunities to save big if they are willing to make changes. This change will involve everyone’s participation. The last item I found in my trash was green plastic bags.

I frequent Trader Joe’s with my reusable trader Joe’s bag.

In recent years, California has begun charging a tax for plastic and paper bags at grocery stores. I think this is a great idea. However, This doesn’t entirely address the problem of the green plastic produce bags.

Apples, oranges, lettuce, avocados, you name it, there is a bag in my trash for it. Why hasn’t Trader Joe’s or any other grocery store started selling reusable produce bags? A quick Google search for ‘Mesh Produce Bags’ returns results for reusable bags that will cost you under $10 for 3 bags.

If you work at Trader Joe’s please send along my request to start offering reusable produce bags and lets change customer behavior!

Starting today, I am going to become more conscious of my trash tossing habits. It is nice to see environmentally conscious folks who are creating awareness about the trash we toss. Collectively these types of behavioral changes will help us move towards a trashless society!