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December 5, 2008

Dave Chameides – a trash man

There have been cases of this before. We tend to call them hoarders. Well this is an experiment in sustainability…apparently. In Los Angeles, there is a man who keeps all his trash. In fact, Dave Chameides has not thrown out trash in a year! Dave is a camera operator but not your average camera operator. He owns two Emmys. The average American throws out 1,700 lbs of trash annually. Dave feels that this is ridiculous and runs a website called “Sustainable Dave.”

Dave has taken all of his trash and stacked it neatly in his basement! This includes food scraps and recyclables. Soda bottles lead down the stairs. Pizza boxes line the walls. The cellar holds tea bags, Styrofoam and plastic wrap. He uses a tin box to hold waste paper and cans of garbage to hold the rest. He put in a worm composter to get rid of the organic matter. His wife and kids really have nothing to do with his little project. In fact, the neighborhood makes fun of them. Dave is so passionate about garbage he will even bag up garbage while on vacation and bring it back home!

What is truly amazing is that Dave has only accumulated 30lbs of trash. The average American would have passed 1,000 lbs by now. He says eventually he will send his waste to the dump or recycling center. He points out that just because you throw your trash out does not mean it disappears. The U.S. landfills are not full but the cost to ship to an open landfill is costly. That is just more energy and carbon emissions into the air. Dave decided to do this after visiting his local landfill and realizing how much trash came in every day. Close to 13,000 tons of trash everyday.

We should all be cutting down on trash including companies when they package goods. Dave is just doing what we should all be doing and cutting back on waste. The thing is with all that trash in the basement wouldn’t it start to smell. As we all know, you have to take out your garbage and organics or they eventually smell. Even with a compostor. Dave continues his efforts. He has set up a website complete with tips on how to reduce your own waste and how to recycle. He even puts a list online of each day’s garbage items. Well he is organized.

Even the director of the National Solid Waste Management Society thinks Dave has lost his mind! Of course, Dave is quick to point out that he is not the first man to attempt a project similar to this. He has gone as far as to pay a company to reduce his junk mail. He no longer accepts phone book deliveries. His family is a little unnerved. His wife thinks the garbage has taken over his mind. His daughter recently threw up with talk of her dad’s pursuits. Dave may be trying to reduce waste but at what cost?

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