16. TRASH on your BACK™ Challenge - What's your trash impact?
For 1 week try carrying all of your garbage with you, wherever you go – to explore how much refuse your lifestyle produces and how to cut back. Imagine a "Challenge" sponsored by local communities where people from across the nation carry their trash with them for 5 days to understand how their consumption habits personally impact the planet!
We would like to learn if local challenges like this could lead the world to greener habits, more sustainable practices on the planet, greater scientific awareness, the power of consumerism, greener product development and innovation in the marketplace, while accelerating economic recovery & improving our health all at the same time. Create the thinking around the possibility of becoming a ZERO-WASTE Nation and change behaviors to make it happen?? We believe it's possible if we
- buy less & throw away less
- change purchasing habits to prioritize less waste
- educate about the amount of waste we individually generate
The rules: any and all dry waste has to go into a bag and participants have to carry the bag with them at all times (the trash becomes a part of them; it sleeps next to them at night). We meet on a daily conference call to share our learnings and create the network of awareness across the nation; we keep a diary of our learnings to be shared collectively and on Sustainability News & Entertainment® Radio and TV with Diana Dehm. We share our stories and our learnings each day so we can learn from each other. On the 5th day we calculate our total weigh in across all 50 States within the United States, or throughout another sponsoring country or locale. Once we have the total weights per person for the week we then breakdown what is recyclable and what is not and we breakdown those weights. The weights broken down then go to the University of New Hampshire and MIT for evaluation and metrics to learn about our real impact per person. From our calculations we also learn our overall impact, trash, carbon, energy, etc. The "Challenge" is then communicated globally through major media markets to help in the global learning collectively.
This challenge can be sponsored and repeated by local communities and targeted to any number of audiences (business owners, students, residential communities, etc).
In a real life example, Sustainability News & Entertainment® radio set out to have some fun and at the same time "walk our talk" and experience collectively and learn about what we consume as individuals, the impact we each make, how we can reduce our carbon footprint & look closer at ways to become more zero-waste friendly, smarter choices and thinking about our personal consumerism choices. The Trash on your Back™ 5 Day Challenge was tested on EARTH DAY April 22nd-27th, 2012 across the nation in 8 States. The brave trash carrier warriors included USEPA, Green Schools National Network, Recycle America, Patagonia, MIT, Climate Interactive Executive Director, Rainbow Environmental, Mayor of Huntington Beach, Global Conscious Leadership, Aloha Grill Restaurant, Enlarge Media, Huntington Beach High School, Surfrider, and Diana Dehm, Host of Sustainability News & Entertainment® Radio led the challenge.
Some of the participants found themselves asking for drinks without straws or To-Go food without the bag as they learned how much extra waste people consume in an average day.
Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Carchio's big takeaway was how much trash he individually was contributing on a daily basis. Carchio said. “You don’t realize that because you’re not carrying it around all the time.” By carrying the trash bag all week, Carchio said, he realized that there are items and habits he could eliminate, like extra coffee cups. Others realized that they just didn't really need to purchase that big toy with all the extra packaging!
Why it should be recognized:
It's been done in a pilot phase and we believe this experience has changed behavior and lowered our personal impact to landfills. Through hands-on learning we made the "invisible - visible" and realized that we can't manage what we can't measure. We literally cut the expected trash average per person in half in a period of just one week. Imagine doing this across the country with the potential to save $8 Billion per year in tipping fees, not to mention re-directing thousands of pounds of waste from our landfills. Imagine reinvesting the savings into renewable energy applications and replacement of old decrepit infrastructure and transportation?
The University of New Hampshire helped us understand through metrix, that the US spends $12Billion per year alone in tipping fees/trash disposal, and that on average every person across the US averages 4.4lbs of trash per day. Through the 5 Day challenge pilot, collectively, un-renounced to us, we brought the daily expected average down to 0.8lbs of waste per day though choice & challenge.
it was so powerful we now have leaders from across the nation wanting to do it again! And very soon we in the US are sister partnering with Australia to learn collectively. The Sustainability News & Entertainment® team of Trash Warriors should be recognized for discovering and identifying our national solution for becoming a Zero Waste Nation collectively through experience, choice, and behavioral change in cool FUN ways.