If you are trying to go on a diet, you might keep a food journal. If you are training for a marathon, you might keep a running log. If you are trying to limit how much you send to the landfill, then you should keep a landfill log.
When this idea came to me, I kept a landfill log for one week, and I even convinced my husband to keep a landfill log for a few days. Keeping the log emphasized how much we as a society regularly throw away and how we sometimes throw things away mindlessly, almost subconsciously.
While doing the log, I realized that I could save paper towel from the work bathroom by walking to another bathroom. I realized the importance of composting since a lot of my regular trash was from food waste. Packaged food bags/ containers was also a trend, which shows that it is important to eat whole, unprocessed foods for environmental reasons in addition to health reasons. I also mentioned to Greg that yogurt containers are recyclable in Milwaukee. Overall, it led to a greater consciousness about the things I am throwing away plus a few changed behaviors to reduce my landfill footprint. This activity was free, easy, and eye opening. I strongly recommend it.
If you’re interested in the full details, they are below. Shared items such as waste from preparing a shared meal were included in my log rather than both.
Michelle’s landfill log:
Monday: banana peel, lotion nub, hair, pen ink cartridge and bag, 2 staples, oily paper towel, pear core, dirty paper towel, cleaning wipe at the gym, Carmel delite cookie plastic trays, 2 greasy paper towels from bacon, greasy sheet of aluminum foil from bacon, plastic neck wrap off a new mayo jar, cracker sleeve with crumbs, uneaten piece of lettuce, disposable timing chip from a racing bib
Tuesday: banana peel, fruit sticker, hair, small paper plate (from a work meeting and the banana bread looked so good!), pear core, garbage bag, old leftovers, grape stems, cracker bag, scrap of plastic lettering that peeled off a shirt
Wednesday: hair, banana peel, laminated pieces of paper, piece of tape, pizza paper, sticker backs, envelop peeling, chicken paper wrap, food scraps, risotto bag, old partial chicken breast, blister package from medicine
Thursday: hair, banana peel, grape stems and wrinkled grapes, sweater fuzz, leftovers, sticker scraps, laminated pieces of paper, piece of plastic wrap, empty trail mix bag, kit kat wrapper
Friday: cereal dust, banana peel, hair, 2 medicine blister packages, 5 cough drop wrappers, sticker from work, wrinkly grapes and grape stems, butter wrapper, crumbs, plastic neck wrap from cough medicine, plastic wrap from take and bake pizzas, sauce dishes from pizzas, pizza trays, food scraps, 2 napkins, 4 straws, pineapple slice with drink, paper towel
Saturday: cough drop wrapper, banana peel, hair, blister medicine packaging, paper plate, napkin, plastic fork, plastic spoon, old cough drop, empty cough drop bag, toilet paper with a smashed bug, candy wrapper, straw, plastic spoon, plastic cup with lid, plastic neck wrapper from a medicine bottle, food scraps, floss
Sunday: food pouch, 6 candy wrappers, plastic wrap, plastic toy packaging, food scraps, empty crouton bag, top peel off section of new crouton bag, greasy paper bag, nubs of old soap bars, blister medicine packaging, fuzz
Greg’s landfill log:
Monday: dry cleaner paper bracelets and plastic tab, yogurt container and lid, plastic spoon, 2 fruit stickers, inedible cheese chunk, 9 bathroom paper towels
Tuesday: styrofoam coffee cup, 24 paper towels, 2 fruit stickers, paper plate, yogurt container and lid, 3 napkins, candy wrapper, Qudoba cardboard bowl, plastic fork
Saturday: large coffee cup with lid and holder, sandwich wrapper, napkin, paper bag, receipt