The Repurpose-Driven Life: A Note on Technique

04/19/2010 12:46 PM |

We introduced you last week to the Conscientious Objector’s new project, The Repurpose-Driven Life, in which she will attempt to document every useful item she finds in the trash for an entire year (including food) as an investigation (and indictment!) of our horrible throwaway society. Luckily for you, we will be repurposing her posts right here at The L Mag. Today, a note on technique

garbage scale

I’m retrieving things from the trash, and keeping a running tally of how much my gleanings weigh—I wanted to keep a big-picture tally for the whole project, in addition to enumerating the finds day to day, and there’s no other way to quantify finds as diverse as fruit, yogurt, towels, clothing, and crackers. of course, weight is the universal measurement for ‘trash’ disposal and ‘waste’ management: please see the list of Essential Numbers for an overview of our waste situation as illustrated by some illuminating facts and figures.

All weights have been taken using relatively crude household methods (hold the bag and stand on the bathroom scale, itself a trash find, was the first: I’ve since acquired a few slightly more sophisticated, or at least easier to use, tools), and almost always include packaging (in the case of food products) and the bags in which I bring things home (in the case of anything that fits into a bag). It’s just too much work to do it any other way. Of course, to pass on food to others who need it, I have to leave it packaged—I’m not going to give unboxed food to the soup kitchen, food pantry, or my neighbors.

So when I say ‘20 pounds of cereal’ that’s 20 pounds with boxes and bags. Which means it’s really 19.5 pounds of cereal or something, but you get the drift.