To Waste or Not to Waste

University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Garbology 4-H School Enrichment

While we may not think of it initially, garbage and refuse is a fundamental part of our lives. Not only do we learn the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” from an early age, but we also see how item disposal can impact and reflect our daily lives. While in quarantine, my family and I have taken different approaches in our daily life now that we are all at home. Since we are at home, not only has our time in the house increased, but the amount of food we use in the house has increased as well. We are eating more meals at home and thus the amount of food we throw out has been greatly reduced. We no longer rely on take-out or delivery for meals and instead cook at home. This means that the food we purchase at the grocery store gets used before it has a chance to go bad and then thrown out. While less food is being put into the landfill, more food is being added to our compost. My family and I have a composting system in our yard. We are cooking a great deal more which leads to us having more produce scraps and items that can be composted. This is great, as it leads to less trash in our trashcan but it has put a strain on our system. The intake is now far greater than we anticipated and our system is at its max capacity at the moment until we can expand the system.

author photo, increased consumption of aluminum cans

Another change since lockdown began is the increase in recycling in my home. To start, we have indulged ourselves in products that we did not before to seek comfort from tangible goods. For example, we have exponentially increased our consumption of canned sparkling waters. We have refrained in the past so that we can reduce our impact on waste but right now our values have shifted while we cannot find comfort in things we did outside the home. We try to indulge into materials that can be reused as much as possible. Aluminum cans have high “profitability” because they can be recycled many times and used for multiple applications.(Jack Johnson, guest lecturer 4/16)

Since we are home, our rate of online shopping has increased, and therefore we have numerous cardboard boxes piled up in our recycling bin. I believe in the future when people are studying the refuse during this period they will see an increase in waste that is related to deliverable products. More and more individuals are having items shipped to their homes, groceries delivered to them, as well as food from restaurants that are still operating. There is no doubt that this leads to an increase in paper and plastic being used for shipping and consumption.


“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 15 Jan. 2020,

“Garbology 4-H School Enrichment.” Garbology 4-H School Enrichment | Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County,

Johnson, Jack. “UW Garbology Project” ARCHY 269 Lecture, Apr. 2020

About Me – Ann B

Hello, ARCHY 269. I am a graduating senior studying Medical Anthropology and Global Health. I have greatly enjoyed being in this major as it has given me an in-depth knowledge of how our public health systems and issues directly impact individuals and communities and how we impact them in turn. In the future, I hope to use my knowledge in medical anthropology in tandem with product design and visual communication design to solve public health issues using design solutions. I am new to the field of archeology and do not know much about it. However, I look forward to learning and discovering the myths and stereotypes that often impede or misrepresent the field.