In January 2010 Brennan Bird decided to reverse the paradigm of trash disposal, keeping his trash instead of throwing it away. His goal was to save (and live with) all of the trash he produced for a year. Having come to the end of the project, Bird has more than his body weight in trash – 188 pounds, to be exact. He has generated a lot of trash and a lot of attention.
For a contest to be the “greenest college student of the year” (which he won), Bird wrote,
“By saving my trash for an entire year, I hope to show that we can take personal responsibility for our impact on this Earth. Every piece of trash that I have produced has been washed, dried, and stored in my room. Almost all of my food and paper scraps have been composted, and returned as nutrients into the Earth. All my recyclable glass bottles and aluminum cans will be reused, or creatively repurposed into artistic pieces or functional tools. All my plastic non-recyclable waste has been stuffed into plastic bottles as Portable Landfill Devices, plastic bottles filled to the point of compression with plastic trash that are then used as “bricks” to build structures out of cob or cement.”
It is so easy to forget that trash still exists after we throw it “away.” The point of Bird’s project was to remember that fact. He attempted to eliminate the distance between himself and his garbage so he could make less of it and find creative ways to reuse it.
Proper stewardship of the earth doesn’t mean that we all have to live with our trash, but Bird’s example does challenge us to find out what it means in our own places to steward our resources well… even our trash.