Becoming Conscious Consumers

APES students collect their trash for a week


Senior APES students Camden Pomeranz holds up her bag of trash.

Reace Rinehart, Associate Editor

So much waste is tossed in the trash every day without a second thought. It is put in the trash or recycling bin and picked up and shipped off to landfills, disappearing from the minds of consumers. In order to break this disconnect between the consumer and their waste, Advanced Placement Environmental Studies (APES) students participated in a Personal Waste Inventory Lab. 

For the lab, APES students kept all their trash, like take out containers, wrappers, receipts, etc., for a week. They found that they collected a lot more waste than expected. Each student had at least one large trash bag full. 

  “It helped me become more aware of how much stuff I put in the garbage, and I learned that I can reuse a lot of the things I throw away,” senior Camden Pomeranz said. 

Most people are unaware of how much they consume in a week or even daily, but by collecting it and keeping it all in one place it provides a visual representation. 

“This lab truly raises awareness to the amount of waste we go through. It also shows how as consumers, we can make a difference in how much waste is produced by making more thoughtful choices. So, instead of buying individual packaged products, it would be better to shop in bulk, or choosing to use reusable dishes and silverware instead of paper and plastic ones,” APES teacher Sharla VanPelt said. 

This lab both showed students how much trash they used but also encouraged them to notice what areas they could improve in or replace to reduce waste. “I became a lot more intentional of which products I bought and used. There was a new question I would ask myself daily which was ‘Do I really need this?’” junior Haily Jose said. Picking and choosing what is bought and used carefully and intentionally helps to avoid having unnecessary things and will reduce the waste that goes to the landfill. 

“I learned that I don’t need to make a whole lifestyle change to decrease my waste. It’s about the little things like not ordering take out that day or using a towel instead of a napkin,” Jose added. 

Reducing waste is both essential for preserving our planet and easy to do when being a  conscious consumer. APES students are doing their part, and so should you!