If analyzing a week’s worth of garbage has taught me anything, it’s that your garbage speaks. While I liked to imagine myself as a generally healthy eater, interrupted by the occasional unhealthy, convenient snack, I was smacked in the face with the reality that I have a generally unhealthy diet, interrupted with the occasional apple or salad. Recording my refuse also made me confront my very real, and previously ignored, coffee addiction (maybe a cup of coffee grounds a day is a touch excessive).
While my roommates chuckled at this slightly humiliating realizations, I discovered a deeper problem that I had not recognized in myself. This realization was that I am not prioritizing my health. If someone were to ask me if I would rather cook myself a healthy meal, or grab a quick burger for dinner every night, I would undoubtably prefer making myself dinner. If someone were to ask me whether I drink coffee for the flavor, or simply to keep myself going throughout a busy day, I would say I drink it out of necessity. Taking a good, hard look at my kitchen garbage made me realize that I don’t make the time to eat healthy or get enough sleep, something I probably never would have realized on my own.
The point of this anecdote is that being more conscious of the things we throw away can change our habits, whether they are dietary, environmental, or something completely unexpected. It’s easy to lie to ourselves about the things we do if we do them without thinking, but when we start to analyze our habits, we are confronted with the facts that have the potential to change how we see ourselves.