Are most city dwellers too removed from their trash?

Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times Researchers glued electronic tags to trash items in order to track their journey.

Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times Researchers glued electronic tags to trash items in order to track their journey.

I grew up in a rural community, about 30 miles outside of Buffalo, NY, in the 60s and 70s.  At that time, my family was already sorting our garbage, because we didn’t have a trash pick up service.  We took it to the dump ourselves.  We returned all of our glass beverage bottles (mainly soda and beer bottles) directly to the grocery store.  Some paper was burned in the back yard (not recommended today), and icky stuff along with cans went to the dump.

In recent years, I’ve wondered if it was possible to follow some of my sorted and recyclable trash to see where it really winds up after the trucks picks it up. According to The New York Times article, “Following Trash and Recyclables on Their Journey,” MIT students not only had the same thought, but the wherewith-all to make it happen.

While it’s nice to recycle, perhaps the better path to take is to avoid the purchase in the first place, just like the “eco-geek” in Seattle suggests.

If all else fails and I must buy something that I believe has too much packaging, I hereby pledge to contact the manufacturer and request they reconsider repackaging the product so less material is used, and therefore, less burden on our planet.  Stay tuned!

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