This is a journal of the waste I generate in my daily life, drawn in a recycled paper notebook.
I've defined 'waste' as any item whose initial use to me has been fulfilled, or will never be fulfilled. As such, a styrofoam container, once emptied of its chap fan, would be considered waste, regardless of whether I reused it or not. A used parking ticket is waste; a banana leaf that was part of lunch is waste. Buying a cheap gimmick that will likely sit in my drawer for months is waste.
I began keeping this record in preparation for an illustration workshop I'm leading at this year's Arts-ED Youth Arts Camp. The workshop would enable teen participants to explore waste generation and management at the market, as well as cultural attitudes towards waste. What better way to start as an artist than to keep track of my personal habits related to waste? The planned duration of the journal coincides with Inktober 2017, so this will be my #inktober project for the year.
Join me by keeping a waste log yourself! You just need to track your waste daily, whether it's in a visual or text form.
The majority of waste seems to be either due to food, or paper receipts. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more payments were done in a paperless way?
As I filled in the pages, I started to change my waste generation habits. Not wanting to draw an additional item is a powerful motivation for not ordering a drink, or buying packaged food.
Now that I've got a good idea of where the vast majority of my waste comes from (food sources), I can start to cut it down in the coming weeks.
PAPER (CONTAMINATED/MIXED): 19
PAPER (CLEAN/PRINTED): 25
* Sanitary pads and a paper/bubble wrap envelope counted as misc items. A commenter on Facebook pointed out that cups are an alternative to tampons and pads; since they're reusable, over the long term you would generate much less waste.
One McDonald's takeaway bag comes with multiple serviettes, a French fry bag, sauce packets, a burger wrapper, and a long receipt. You can't buy food snacks at a convenience store without ending up with plastic packaging; the peanuts came in a bag, and so did the chocolate bun. On the other hand, having a banana leaf rice lunch leaves behind...a banana leaf.
For work purposes, I used painter's tape, and had to buy tape rolls and nylon string to ship something large this week, though it was padded with recycled cardboard boxes. One might consider the carbon and energy costs involved in shipping items.
On the whole, there's slightly less waste this week, even taking into account the 1.5 extra days I included. I almost never eat McDonald's, so that was an outlier; cutting down on biscuits would also reduce plastic waste.
PLASTIC: 26 (28)
PAPER (CONTAMINATED/MIXED): 19 (19)
PAPER (CLEAN/PRINTED): 14 (25)
ORGANIC: 3 (3)
METAL: 0 (1)
MISC: 4 (3)
The number in the brackets indicates the previous week's tally.
* Peanut shells and assam seeds counted as two organic items. Courier bag, painter's tape, sanitary pads counted as misc items.
DISPOSED: 62 (68)
RECYCLED: 2 (9)
REUSED: 2 (2)
The pattern of packaged food being the largest source of waste generated continues this week: a Family Pack of Pejoy Green Tea biscuit sticks contains seven individually-wrapped packs, making for a waste-filled fun time. To my horror, one late night visit to the hawker stalls generated two bamboo skewers, one paper plate, and one plastic sauce container - I'd have asked the vendor to forgo the latter at least if I'd known earlier. But on the whole, if you actively request for no straws and are careful about what you eat, hawker food tends to generate much less plastic waste than packaged food from the supermarket or convenience store.
A parking ticket and various paper items (envelope, turn number, documents) as a result of a bank trip also make appearances here. This week has the least waste thus far; it's time to see if I can make bigger reductions.
PLASTIC: 25 (26; 54)
PAPER (CONTAMINATED/MIXED): 14 (19; 38)
PAPER (CLEAN/PRINTED): 13 (14; 39)
ORGANIC: 4 (3; 6)
METAL: 1 (0; 1)
MISC: 2 (4; 7)
The first number in the bracket indicates the previous week's tally, followed by the running tally.
* Chicken bones, bamboo skewers counted as two organic items. Baggage tag, paper plate, milk carton counted as mixed paper. Floor wipes counted as two misc items.
DISPOSED: 55 (62; 130)
RECYCLED: 2 (2; 11)
REUSED: 2 (2; 4)
Check back for future weeks.