Keeping a Year's Worth of Trash in Your Apartment
Ari Derfel, a small business owner in the San Francisco Bay Area, decided to keep every article of trash he generated for a whole year...
The project started out as an experiment - to see just how much waste one person generates in a year (in Derfel's case, about 96 cubic feet). But as the months rolled by and Derfel's refuse overflowed from his kitchen pantry and into bins in the living room, the project grew from novelty into an environmental statement, a source of much discussion and debate, and a three-dimensional diary of Derfel's consumption habits (not to mention a source of many, many jokes).
Sometime soon, Derfel hopes to transfer custody of the detritus to an artist who will use it to create a piece about the way Americans deal with their castoffs.
"When we throw something away, what does 'away' mean?" said Derfel. "There's no such thing as 'away.' "
Still, the act of observing changes that which is observed: Derfel's daily habits changed as a result of the encroaching trash, and he likely began to generate less and less waste as space grew scarce, whereas a "normal" resident would have carried on consuming and tossing without thinking twice about it.
Personally, I cook from scratch (not much storage space in my gaff for lots of packaging), and so don't generate much waste-- during the four-month garbage strike in Vancouver I was more or less okay, and not reduced to storing trash in my freezer.