Project 1: Measuring Daily Values

January 24, 2017 (STEP 1)

I’ve begun documenting the different beverages I consume throughout the day. So far, I average about 1200 milliliters of water, 300 mL of tea, and about 100 mL of 1% reduced fat milk.

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January 28, 2017

After talking to our TA, I found that a good way to document all of this information would be to put it in an excel spreadsheet and track several different categories, including beverage type, time ingested, amount, cost, brand, and social situation. I’ve continued with this process for about a week now and have found that having a water bottle has encouraged me not to purchase beverages while I’m out. I’ve also found that when I’m with friends, I’m more encouraged to buy a drink that I wouldn’t normally spend the money on. Or if I’m in a new social situation and need something to distract myself with.

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February 2, 2017 (STEP 2)

An updated version of my chart… I decided to add a column with the location where I consume the beverage.

excel-spreadsheet-dea-progress_2-01Below are some of the beverages I consumed this week…

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February 4, 2017 (STEP 3)

After collecting the images and the data on each act of consumption, I organized them into 4 columns, each demonstrating a different level of waste.

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Column 1 represents the most waste: consuming a single beverage and throwing away the plastic/paper cup and tea bag. Column 2 represents what I consider to be the next level up: consuming milk from a plastic carton that will eventually be recycled, having about 5 or 6 cups of milk from each carton. Column 3: throwing away a tea bag, will eventually decompose but still counts as waste, usually good for 1-2 cups of tea. Column 4: using a stainless steel water bottle, drinking water from tap.

Similarities/Differences

I’m pretty consistent in what kinds of beverages I consume: usually water, tea, and sometimes milk. I’m typically more pressured to go buy a drink on campus, when I’m sick, or when I’m in a social situation like out at lunch or having a meeting.

February 5, 2017 (STEP 4)

I’ve found that in one week I’ve bought 4 beverages that require me to throw away the vessel they were held in. Each time they were a paper cup with a plastic lid. If I kept this up for one year, I would total about 208 cups I would have thrown away. Though I’ve made a significant amount of progress on this area since, for example, my freshman year when I didn’t have my own water bottle, I still have a long way to go in this regard.

Another observation I’ve made this week is that if I think about the number of times I use my water bottle compared to how much it cost me initially ($36.50 USD), I can pay it off in under 2 weeks of use. This method is almost equivalent to buying a plastic water bottle each time I fill up my own, in other words the investment is worth it cost wise after about 1.5 weeks and worth it environmentally, for me, upon purchase.

After looking at my beverage consumption and the containers that they come in I realized that I actually waste a lot more in food packaging than I do in beverage packaging. The only beverage packaging I purchase on a normal basis is milk cartons and disposable tea mugs. However, I buy frozen dinner food packaging, plastic bags with vegetables in them, plastic containers for cheese and deli meats, pretty much an endless list of packaged foods. So while the project got me to think about my daily beverage consumption, it eventually got me to think about unsustainable practices in similar areas as well.

February 8, 2017 (STEP 5)

If I were to become more sustainable in regards to my behavior, I would first think about beverages and then think about related areas. With regards to beverages, I am the largest culprit of buying disposable ones on campus. For starters, I could make use of the tea kettle that is in my studio, and also buy several reusable mugs for the studio and a supply of tea. Though I could cut down my disposable beverage consumption fairly significantly, looking at this informed me of the other areas in which my consumption and disposal is far worse: food. Almost everything that I buy when I buy food comes in some sort of plastic wrap or packaging that eventually gets tossed out in the garbage. To help with this issue, I could drop off all my plastics to the recycling box at Giant Eagle Market District, rather than tossing them in the trash. Another step I could take on campus is to identify all of the eateries that allow you to bring in your own bottle or mug to be filled with their drinks. If I were to do this I would probably go around and ask the employees whether or not they would serve me if I were to bring in my own mug.

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February 9, 2017 (STEP 6)

Some brainstorming of thinking long term with regards to my behavior…

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Final Presentation PDF

February 10, 2017

My Beverage Waste and Consumption

Completing Project 1 has made me recognize that keeping track of specific behaviors is a very useful first step in understanding things about yourself that you may not have thought about before. Tracking and analyzing the beverages I consume in one week helped me recognize that while I believe I consume very few disposable beverages, my impact is still quite large as an individual. It has also helped me realize that there are so many alternatives to my current consumption of beverages, none of which require me to change the amount of liquids I drink each day. I now understand that my water bottle is just the first step into reusing the things I drink out of, and that I can tailor my drinking habits and containers to a system that is most appropriate for me. One of the most valuable things I’ve gained from completing this project is the strategy of applying things I’m currently doing with beverages to other aspects of my life. Food waste is an issue I have that is far greater than my beverage waste; I now have particular strategies and insights that could potentially help me throw away food waste less frequently and in smaller quantities. However, these changes will take time and effort on my part, and setbacks are very much inevitable as I am a student and have little time as it is to think about my food and drink waste.

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