If I looked in your garbage and recycling bins what would I learn about you?
Would I learn that you buy too much food, cook too much and don’t eat leftovers?
Would I learn that you are an extreme composter from the lack of biodegradable contents?
Would I discover from the large number of receipts that you like to shop – a lot?
Perhaps you have accumulated lots of plastic bags because you have trouble remembering to bring your reusable ones.
Maybe I’d learn that you are an excellent recycler from the absence of recyclable materials in your garbage.
The point is, garbage can teach us a lot about a person’s life because it is evidence of culture and habits. Garbage reflects truth, for example, do you know someone who underestimates how many beers they have drank when the evidence is right there – eight empty bottles, not four as declared. Or maybe you overestimate how many home cooked meals you make during the week. A look in the bin might reveal more takeaway containers than you realised. This is because we like to describe our behaviour in ways that meet cultural expectations. But what I really want you to understand is that we can sort through our garbage and use the evidence to identify the most impactful ways to be less wasteful. If you discover your bin is largely full of food waste and organic matter, then that’s where you need to focus your energy. You could start by making a compost heap or worm farm and then move on to meal planning and buying less food.
So, if you sorted through the contents of your bin, what would you learn about yourself?
Would a wasteful habit stand out? If so, set yourself a goal and identify ways you can address it. Actions might be personal behaviour changes or it might be writing letters to companies and politicians. Do something to address the waste because that’s better than doing nothing.
Or maybe you have a lot to feel good about, in which case you should recognise this and celebrate with a happy dance – go on, you know you want to.
Now it’s time to spill the beans. What does your garbage reveal about you?
I’ve kicked things off in the comments below. I can’t wait to find out more about you!