The STUFF Challenge – Week 2 Review

Waste on the Go

During the second week of October we were traveling around the USA, so no waste was contributed to our household bins. We’ll extend our challenge for another week into November to really get a 1 month overview of our household waste. But the week itself was not “wasted” (terrible pun….) on the challenge, as it provided us a lot of insights into waste production in the USA, and how much waste we produce when we are on the go in general.

In the UAE’s defence: recycling is a new thing, and farmers markets, bulk buying, and the ideas of plastic bag alternatives are just slowly creeping into certain businesses and communities. The USA however has the expertise, experience and facilities for recycling; they have co-op shops where you can buy in bulk; an incredible variety of businesses where people can buy organic, vegan, packaging-free, you-name-it; and the amount of waste we saw being produced was r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s! Individual pieces of fruit wrapped in plastic; polystyrene take-away boxes; tons of plastic cutlery, plastic containers with sauces, plastic stirrers, straws and a bunch of napkins with every single drink/food you buy; plastic bags being used everywhere; we even went to a cocktail bar that served every single drink they offered (their specialty was frozen daiquiris) in a big polystyrene cup, with a plastic lid, and a plastic straw. I decided against that and just asked for a simple glass of water. The water was brought to me in the same polystyrene cup, with the plastic lid, and a plastic straw. Fail. And the sad thing is – if we weren’t doing this challenge, we might have not paid any attention to half of this stuff.

The moral of the story is: you have to be very prepared while you’re on the road if you want to reduce your waste, and you have to be quick to ask how food/drinks are served so you can tell the business that you don’t need the 25 additional pieces of plastic. Home made food, a spork, and my own napkin would have gone a long way.

USA Shopping

On the topic of adding new items to our household, we did quite well, considering that the US used to be a shopping haven for us. Joshua actually sounded quite disappointed as we walked through the Bass Pro superstore, his favourite outdoor shop, muttering “I don’t know what to buy. I don’t really need anything!”. In the end, we only came back to the UAE with some small dry bags for our outdoor activities, and a couple of t-shirts.


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