Lab 1b- Garbology



Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, this past week I was proud of my household because a lot of the things in our garbage were things that don’t cause as much harm as it did before. Prior to being in quarantine because of COVID-19 we didn’t really eat what many consider “healthy”, most of our garbage consisted of takeout food and takeout containers, plastic waters, candy or chip wrappers, among other various things. And our garbage easily within two to three days would need to be taken out. Considering we are only three girls in my household, we were constantly annoyed having to take out the garbage all the time.

However, throughout this week a lot of garbage consisted of banana peels, oatmeal containers, vegetable storage bags, or fruit containers, along with a variety of different food disposable wrappers. It made me realize that our eating habits have changed within a short span of just a couple weeks, due to this pandemic, we for sure no longer drink from plastic water bottles. This past Monday we bought another filter for our Puree. A month ago we would have been taking turns every other day taking out the trash and running around without having a consistent meal time or eating once a day; usually at night and eating unhealthy food. A month ago some of the things we constantly consumed included McDonalds food, Subway, Chipotle, or food from a local restaurant near school, along with energy drinks or Starbucks. Now we actually go grocery shopping and buy real food to make great meals, where we for sure have at least two meals a day and snack on healthy options. We actually went grocery shopping specifically for healthy options and have for sure been saving a lot of money. We do have an occasional Starbucks drink, but it’s gone from an everyday consumption to a once a week thing.

Personally I think most people will be throwing away similar items, especially because during this pandemic, maintaining a strong immune system is crucial, therefore we as a society need to make good healthy decisions such as choosing to eat food that will enhance our health. According to experts, exercise is part of staying healthy and “is especially important now because it reducess stress, prevents weight gain, boost the immune system, and improves sleep”. Another reason I think most people are consuming similar things, is because where I live I don’t really see many people going out to get Uber Eats as much as before or if people are outside they are coming back from a run, work, or a grocery store and usually I see vegetable wrappers with an occasional chips bag or a 12- can soda box. Most of my neighbors are taking this pandemic serious and making good decisions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On the other side, a change in consumption allows us to reflect and see that most people are at home rather than out and about. One thing that our current consumption reflects is that now, most households garbage will consist of toilet paper, rather than having work places or public areas dispose of it, it’ll be neighborhoods that do it since everyone is home and socializing via online instead of going to places and meeting people in person. A future archeologist might see that a lot of toilet paper, food wrappers, and a lot of hoarded objects and could interpret these next months as society going through a crisis because a lot of the objects being bought according to 9ABC include “health products, gym equipment and home supplies” which makes sense because a lot of people are buying hand sanitizers, face masks, gloves, or weights.

“Exercise Is Essential for Well-Being During COVID-19 Pandemic.” Health Quest Patient Center, 21 Apr. 2020, patients.healthquest.org/exercise-is-essential-for-well-being-during-covid-19-pandemic/.

Hartman, Kristyn. “What Are People Buying during the COVID-19 Pandemic?” WCPO, 9ABC, 3 Apr. 2020, www.wcpo.com/news/coronavirus/what-are-people-buying-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.


Garbage: What our trash says about us

Human beings are mere placeholders in time, like zeros in a long number; their garbage seems to have more staying power, and a power to inform across the millennia that complements (and often substitutes for) that of the written word.

William Rathje & Cullen Murphy, Rubbish!
Empty Xbox disc holders found in my trash
Items in trash: 13 plastic packages, 43 old xbox game containers, 4 plastic food containers, 20 old dishes

The plastic packaging indicates a lot of items were ordered from amazon recently, the plastic food containers are specifically from produce ordered from amazon. The old xbox game containers and plastic food containers are the result of spring cleaning. These items and behaviors are all indicative of the change in my lifestyle brought on by the virus.

Garbage is the physical documentation of the impact Covid-18 has had on our lives (“Coronavirus”). For one, the amount of foodstuffs ordered to the house has dramatically increased. Part of that is due to quarantine making ordering food preferrable to risking a drive to the grocers. Even so, the increase in food produts has increased too drastically for it to be explained by me changing where I purchase my groceries. The amount of food waste has doubled because, instead of ordering for a one-person household, I am now ordering for a two-person household. Quarantine has brought my mom back from her work travels and it reflects in our trash.

The increase in other amazon packages is also due to the virus and the subsequent return of my mother. Sharing a home with me again has been a little difficult for us since the house has been altered a bit in her absence. What was once her office has become my study in recent years. In light of that and other changes in space, she has had to order material to create a workspace for two instead of one–sticky notes, desk stands, seat cushions, etc. all to make this feel like her home again.

The thrown out dishes are also a result of her coming home and the quarantine. She suddenly is blessed with enough time to finish the projects she had started before she started traveling for work. This week she finished throwing away aged and ugly dishes from my childhood. It wasn’t a project I ever tried to finish for her, since I couldn’t guess what was important and what wasn’t. Now that she is back she has efficiently sorted through the kitchen to get rid of the objects we don’t need or want anymore. She isn’t the only one who has been inspired to do improve our home though.

Quarantine and my mom have inspired me to do some sorting of my own. I recently went through my Xbox 360 games and moved the discs into a CD binder to cut down on the space they take up. Now, they take up space in the garbage instead.

In fact, every piece of garbage thrown out this week is evidence of the times we’re living through right now. Last month, I had to take the trash out maybe once for the entire 4 weeks because of the little waste I went through by myself.

I can’t help but imagine other households are finding a similar increase in garbage. For one, an increase in packaging is a given as more households make the transition to ordering necessities online. The dishes and xbox game might be unique to our household, but I imagine there is a similar increase in “hobby” trash in every home. This week my mom and I filled our time by cleaning out our home a bit, other households might have filled the time with crafts or makeup–most hobies will have a impact on the trash. While specifics might be a little different, I imagine households across the US will have similar patterns to their garbage right now.

Archaeologists in the future will keep the virus in mind while they look at our at the garbage produced and see the impact of quarantined families: increase online orders and evidence of more time spent on chores and hobbies.

Sources

“Coronavirus: Discarded Disposable Gloves on the Street.” BBC News, BBC, 8 Apr. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-52188627?fbclid=IwAR0xrvZp-SyLFzcnOWHynfRU19e0RI6ZnqyBQSvtQ3ftcjY1cAif3t8oh94.

Rathje, William L., and Cullen Murphy. Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2001. Print.

Let’s Get Trashy!!

Me realizing I have way to much
trash and lack of discipline with
spending.
Me trying to sort through my trash to see what it says about me.

And no, I’m not talking about letting loose and enjoying a night out, acting completely out of character in the name of “Fun.” I am talking about Garbology. Yes! Garbology is a real thing. In archeology, the study of Garbage or any discarded waste by humans can tell us about our behavioral patterns. For archeologists, Learning about human behavior typically starts with the excavation of discarded waste in U.S land fills. One of the largest landfills in the U.S is Puente Hills Landfill in Los Angeles, California, having about 500 ft of trash and is stretched across 700 acres of land (Ch. 1. Murphy, 2001). So much garbage and with that, comes many hidden narratives that teach us about our social status, ways of living and the reasons for our panic buying during a domestic or global crisis.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation at home has really made me change my spending habits and become creative in cooking. Most of my kitchen discards found in my disposable waste bin were food packaging from the grocery store and a couple pizza boxes from occasional take out when I am overloaded with school and too stressed to cook. The act of being a home body, has made me bound to home cooking, in which I learned to cook meals that include a lot of healthy produce and are protein packed! Eggs are my number one household food essential as I make up multiple ways to use it to cook a variety of foods that is not only for breakfast. Eggs also cook very fast so I am able to whip up meals in 15 min or less which helps me get more done through out the day. The things I have been consuming have changed drastically since the pandemic. I no longer see trash derived from outside food places in which I used to consume because of being on a tight-knit schedule as a mobile college student at UW.

In my neighborhood , I expect to see more trash that cater to the cleanliness of in home appliances and home cooking as well. Trash that include empty hand sanitizer bottles, gloves, disposable medical masks and a composition of different grocery packaging. I also expect to see a lot of bare toilet paper rolls, as the overbuying of toilet paper seems to be the common product that people are over consuming during this crisis. Chip Cowell in his article, “Why We Buy Weird Things in Times of Crisis,” explains the coined term, “irrational exuberance” where people tend to lose sight of a commodities true value. Perhaps, people tend to over buy to feel secure in times of uncertainty, but why do we feel like we need more in order to feel good about ourselves? As an American culture that often over consumes, one might feel a sense of rational control and security when over stocking on household items. Once this pandemic has passed, a future archeologist that examines our trash at the time might think that it’s an over consumption of items that didn’t need to be bought in the first place. I think an archeologist would be baffled at the amount of household items we’ve consumed in the upcoming months of this pandemic.

Citations:

1. Rathje, W. L., & Murphy, C. (2001). Rubbish!: the Archaeology of Garbage. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

2. Colwell, Chip. 2020 Mar 19. “Why We Buy Weird Things in Times of Crisis.” Sapiens. Accessed April 18, 2020. https://www.sapiens.org/column/curiosities/panic-buying-coronavirus/

3. SpongeBob Square pants, Giphy.

Garbology of COVID-19

During this unprecedented time that we are living through, I realized that I’ve eaten a lot more junk food since they’re so accessible as well as popcorn because my siblings and I have been doing a lot more movie nights. Moreover, my dad has been doing much more yard work so I also assume that there is an increase in the amount of yard scraps and other compost. Over the past month or so, I’ve noticed that I don’t wear as many jeans or “going out” appropriate clothes since if I were to just go to the store I’d opt for a comfy tee and leggings which I also wear at home. Also, I don’t wear as much make up anymore so my skin has gotten the chance to clear up and breathe!

Image
Photograph by: Boston Public Works, April 1, 2020, source

As for my neighborhood, I would expect to see a lot more Clorox Wipes, empty hand sanitizer bottles, and gloves in other people’s trash in my neighborhood as well as frozen meals or fresh produce scraps. Overall, these changes in consumption very accurately reflect what is happening at a social level in our community because people are definitely taking extra precautions to stay clean and they are more aware of their hygiene. Moreover since people are home more, they would also be cooking more which would lead to a spike in the amount of fresh produce scraps or even the containers of frozen meals because they are able to have meals quicker. If a future archeologist examined our garbage today, they would probably see that there is a great increase in gloves and masks which they could interpret this as a time in our society that we need to protect ourselves.

Table by: Camila Domonoske, March 20, 2020, source

One article that I found very interesting was America’s Shopping List: Here’s What We’re Buying The Most by Camila Domonoske. In this article, she has a table that displays sales of various products over the past few weeks. One that I found particular interest in was that there was a 470% jump in hand sanitizer sales in the week of March 7th, however, there was only a 207.5% increase in the week of March 14th. Initially, I thought that people bought less hand sanitizer, however, from my personal experience of going to the stores shelves were still empty. Therefore, this could be due to the fact that people initially bought masses of hand sanitizer and are now hoarding it and there is less supply to be sold.

GP: Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, empty supermarket shelves from panic buying
Photograph by: Andrew Merry for CNBC, March 23, 2020, source

Works Cited

Boston Public Works (2020, April 1). “PWD crews are working very hard during this difficult time…” Twitter Status. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/BostonPWD/status/1245388166900649991

Domonoske, Camilia (2020, March 20). “America’s Shopping List: Here’s What We’re Buying The Most.” NPR News. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/03/20/818995256/americas-shopping-list-here-s-what-we-re-buying-the-most

Merry, Andrew (2020, March 23). “Supermarket shortages caused by panic-buying of items such as pasta and rice.” Photograph for CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/23/what-people-are-buying-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak-and-why.html

Garbology Amid COVID-19

Stop Food Waste Day

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, what we discard in our households has drastically changed. Personally, I was unable to spend time at home, as I have a young brother, an elderly grandmother, as well as an immunocompromised mother. I didn’t want to stay in Seattle, near a larger epicenter, so I decided to stay in a cabin out in Grayland, Washington. This change in the environment has led me to evaluate a couple of ways my household’s garbology has specifically been effected.

How have the things your consuming changed over the past month (compared to before COVID-19 impacts)?

Since my arrival in Grayland, the first thing I noticed is the lack of recycling and compost. This was very odd for me since all my life I’ve lived in urban locations and have always had what I can now refer to as a luxury. In response to this, I decided to collect all of our recycling and load it up in my car to bring back with us to the city.

Regarding food waste, I’d looked everywhere for compost bags but none of the local grocery stores carried them. In response, we decided to reduce our food waste by purchasing more non-perishable items. In our reading, Why We Buy Weird Things in Times of Crisis by Stephen E. Nash, he noted that people have not been buying non-perishable, but instead, toilet paper (Nash & Gusterson 2018). This made me more aware of what I personally have been consuming, and in response stocked up on more canned goods, so I could reduce compost that ends up in landfills.

Since I’ve largely referred to food waste throughout this blog post, this image immediately stood out to me. It claims that over 100 tons of food have gone to waste in response to panic buying. I looked into this further and found that households are usually the largest contributors to this large amount of waste. However, amid our current crisis, farmers are the ones contributing the most. According to the New York Times, “After weeks of concern about shortages in grocery stores and mad scrambles to find the last box of pasta or toilet paper roll, many of the nation’s largest farms are struggling with another ghastly effect of the pandemic. They are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell”. In light of this information, I learned my new eating habits have actually been counterintuitive. By buying non-perishables, the amount of food waste of fresh foods has increased dramatically.

What behaviors or activities are reflected in the items you discarded over the past week?

As aforementioned, my eating behaviors have changed quite a bit in an attempt to reduce waste. I have also noticed that my purchasing habits have drastically changed. While monitoring my waste and comparing it to what was disposed of pre-pandemic, I noticed there is much less packaging from nonessential items. For example, amazon packages, store bags, and other nonessentials. In an attempt to save money, I have stopped spending on many luxuries, which in return has changed my personal discarded items.

What have I learned?

From this assignment, I have learned how buying habits have changed in response to COVID-19. In exploring my own purchasing habits, and therefore waste, I was able to understand that I am not helping the problem. By balancing my purchases, trying not to participate in panic buying, and further, learning more about expiration dates, I can decrease my waste. We could all stand to do a little more research on small ways to change our habits (in turn garbology), to do a little good during these hard times.

Below is a list of what can be done to reduce food waste (Royte 2020).

  • When cooking at home, learn how to maintain everything you’ve bought
  • Freeze food
  • Better understand date labels
  • Avoid panic buying

References

Coe, Linford. “Like Climate Change and Covid-19 Wasn’t Enough or like What?” 9GAG, 2 Apr. 2020, 9gag.com/gag/aBgAjxz.

Nash, Stephen E., and Hugh Gusterson. “Why We Buy Weird Things in Times of Crisis.” SAPIENS, AP Images, 3 Apr. 2018, www.sapiens.org/column/curiosities/panic-buying-coronavirus/.

Royte, Elizabeth. “Food Waste and Food Insecurity Rising amid Coronavirus Panic.” National Geographic, 31 Mar. 2020, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/03/food-waste-insecurity-rising-amid-coronavirus-panic/.

“Stop Food Waste Day.” Days Of The Year, www.daysoftheyear.com/days/stop-food-waste-day/.

Yaffe-bellany, David, and Michael Corkery. “Dumped Milk, Smashed Eggs, Plowed Vegetables: Food Waste of the Pandemic.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/business/coronavirus-destroying-food.html.

Consumption in Times of Uncertainty – Lessons from our Trash

As the first chapters of the book “Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage” point out, “garbage has often served as a kind of tattle-tale, setting the record straight” about our consumption (Rajthe & Murphy 2001). With this in mind, I went down to our kitchen trash can and noticed two main things:

1. Used Lysol Wipes

While the wipes were expected – the sheer quantity in our trash shocked me and led me to wonder if we collectively are consuming sanitizing products wastefully.

In the past, garbologists “have learned that we waste more of what is in short supply than of what is plentiful” (Rajthe & Murphy 2001). Despite our difficulties in finding lysol wipes, we seem to go through them at an alarming rate. Although an increase in sanitation is expected and desirable, future archaeologists may find our use of sanitizing products was wasteful/inefficient and further contributed to shortages. Moreover, fear of shortages have caused many to stock up on items such as hand sanitizer, cleaning products, gloves, and masks that they don’t need – many of these products may end up in the trash. Its hard to blame anyone for stocking up though – especially given how recommendations and information from official sources seem to be constantly changing. Thus, garbage from this time may shed light on how panic and unclear information can worsen or even create shortages.

2. Frozen Food Packages

This was somewhat shocking to look at because our family usually tries to eat whole foods and home cooked meals. However, the malaise and stress of quarantine has left us not wanting to put in further energy into planning and cooking our meals, causing us to revert to frozen foods. One Forbes article states that “People are consuming more alcohol, smoking weed, playing video games, eating a lot of junk food, binge-watching Netflix and adult films more than ever before” (Kelly 2020). In this way, our quarantine garbage could shed light on the stress many are feeling and how we cope.

Fortunately, my family can afford and access these low effort foods. For many, financial pressures or lack of food availability may be causing them to put further energy and effort into eating as cheaply and efficiently as possible. I imagine future garbologists may find a large difference in consumption patterns between different neighborhoods based on socioeconomic status. The pandemic has already exacerbated and made apparent a number of disparities and differences in consumption patterns may reveal further inequalities in our society.

References:

  • Kelly, J. (2020, April 6). Americans Are Excessively Eating, Drinking, Smoking Pot, Playing Video Games And Watching Porn While Quarantined. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/04/06/americans-are-excessively-eating-drinking-smoking-pot-playing-video-games-and-watching-porn-while-quarantined/#14024aa5404e
  • Rathje, W. L., & Murphy, C. (2001). Rubbish! the archaeology of garbage. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Garbology in this unprecedented time

It has been a couple months since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Some countries were able to gain their functions back (for example, South Korea just held an election that had 66.2% of the usual national voter turnout rates according to the National Election Commission) , but most countries are still struggling to fight this novel virus. In the midst of this pandemic, people are experiencing a shortage of basic necessities due to the behavior of some irresponsible individuals, including panic buying and hoarding behaviors.

South Korean people waiting in line to vote. Seoul, 15th of April 2020. (BBC Korea) https://www.bbc.com/korean/news-52290203

Yesterday, April 16th, 2020, was the garbage collection day for my street. My recycle bin mainly consisted of aluminium soda cans, plastic bottles (orange juice and hand sanitizer), glass bottles, as well as plastic and cardboard takeout containers. I had a greater than usual amount of cardboard boxes, as I have been ordering almost everything online lately (dog food, small household items, and even some groceries).

Accumulation of delivery boxes in my garage. (These were accumulated over a year, although the pile is getting bigger during this COVID-19 outbreak)

For the general garbage, I noticed an increase in the amount of paper towels and Clorox wipes, as well as packaging for perishable items like Styrofoam trays and cool packs, because I have been cooking items like meat and fish at home more frequently. Also, I noticed an increase in non-perishable item packaging such as plastic wrappers and containers. Since I am ordering takeout food less often and cooking at home more, I have been definitely using more parchment paper and other cooking-related items.

After taking a sneak peak at the neighbors’ bins (it was out on the street for collection), I was able see lots of aluminum beer cans/soda cans, cardboard boxes, recreational herb containers, and also the containers for various cleaning/disinfecting products. One notable pattern among my neighbors was pizza boxes, recreational herb containers/wrappers and beer cases. These findings reflect the current situation, as bars and restaurants are closed and people are forced to stay inside as much as possible. One interesting thing that I noticed is that, despite the mayhem caused by the toilet paper and isopropyl alcohol hoarding of some people, I didn’t see many empty toilet paper rolls or empty rubbing alcohol containers (although I did see lots of Clorox wipe containers) in my neighbors’ bins. This is partly because it takes time to use up toilet paper, and COVID-19 does not cause an increase in the frequency of defecation.

This dad’s reaction pretty much sums up how I feel about panic buyers

Future Archaeologists might interpret our current discarding pattern as odd because it does not entirely reflect what people are buying at the store. People are still discarding items like beer and pizza cases, which were common well before the outbreak. But I think it is safe to say that people are consuming the same things as they were before but the frequency or amount of items being consumed is what changed during the outbreak, as people are forced to be at home.

Bibliography

Corson, Naomi. “Dad’s Math Rant on Toilet Paper Hoarding”, YouTube, Published by How to be a dad, 19 MAR 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch7gUrebnjA

Unknown, “총선: 코로나 사태 가운데 치러진 선거…잠정투표율 28년 만에 66.2% 넘어”, BBC Korea, 15 APR 2020, https://www.bbc.com/korean/news-52290203#orb-banner

Garbology

In New York City, Ryan McKenzie picked up and threw away all the discarded gloves and masks he found on the street over the weekend.
(Wong, 2020)

(Moyer and Chikwendiu, 2020)

Some behaviors or activities that are reflected in the items I discarded over the past week are spending more time at home eating and drinking as well as more cleaning from disposed items like, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, water bottles, grocery bags, food and beverage cans, latex gloves, masks.

Compared to the timeframe before COVID-19 impacts, there has been major a shift in the total amount of garbage accumulated. More specifically, the disinfectant wipes, canned goods, canned beverages, paper towels, toilet tissue, juice bottles, food packaging, online order packages/ boxes, beverage bottles, etc. has a repeated appearance within my own garbage. Thus, an increase in the consumption of not only food but other items such as cleaning supplies is apparent during these times.

When considering other people’s trash in my neighborhood, I expect to see more cleaning bottles, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray bottles, paper towels, paper towels wrappers, toilet tissue wrappers, plastic bottles, latex or nylon gloves, protective masks because there are more members within their household along with, more people are staying home rather than going to work or school. In regards of the trash that I might see less of than my own are items like, dog food cans, dog wipes, and dog treat packaging because my neighbors does not own any pets. The number of items that I think would be the same amount as my own garbage is the number of cardboard boxes from online purchases, or food packages like chip bags, juice bottles, condiment jars, and wrappers because everyone is stuck at home or has few places that they can go to or make a purchase from without violating social distancing orders provided by the government and healthcare providers.

The changes in consumption reflects what is happening on a social level right now by because the increase in the overall amount shows how people are spending more time at home instead of other places. This indicates how individuals are also more cautious of their overall health during this time due to the mass amounts of cleaning supply bottles, wipes, latex gloves, protective masks, and disinfectant bottles present.

A future archaeologist would see a dramatic increase in the amount of garbage within each household versus public buildings, more food waste, disinfectant bottles, wipes, paper towels, candy wrappers, eggshells, plastic eggs. Archaeologist might interpret the increase in the amount of garbage within each household versus public buildings as an era where humans are experiencing a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, future archaeologists might distinguish how people are spending most of their time at home eating, cooking, online shopping, and other in-home activities since schools, shopping malls, and other businesses are shut down. To add on, archaeologist might interpret the increase in candy wrappers, eggshells, and plastic eggs, as a pandemic during the month of April because of the Easter holiday and how Americans carry out holiday traditions during troubling times. The increase in cleaning supply bottles, disinfectant wipes and bottles, latex gloves, and protective face masks shows humans reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak during this time and how social distance has affected how people interact with others when leaving their home.

References

Moyer, Wm. J., & Chikwendiu, J. (2020, April  9). Coronavirus spring-cleaning surge leaves residential garbage cans overflowing. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/coronavirus-spring-cleaning-surge-leaves-residential-garbage-cans-overflowing/2020/04/09/eba1ac10-79cd-11ea-8cec-530b4044a458_story.html

Wong, B. (2020, April 8). Please Stop Throwing Your Used Gloves Or Masks On The Ground. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stop-throwing-gloves-masks-on-the-ground_l_5e8e08fac5b670b4330a7b93

Tiktok and Chill

The world is in a panic. COVID-19 has caught many by surprise and has left people scrambling to find provisions to sustain themselves and their families. Especially with Washington state being ground zero of the outbreak in the United States, we had a shorter time to prepare and brace ourselves for what was already here. However, the interesting part of the response to this pandemic was how people decided what was necessary to buy and what was not. One of the hottest commodities that people were not only buying but hoarding was toilet paper. In an article published by MoneyWise, the top item they listed as unnecessary and a waste of money to hoard was toilet paper (MoneyWise, 2020). However, I remember seeing many empty shelves for the first time and an entire row at Costco that originally housed towers of toilet paper completely gone. One theory that explains the hoarding of unnecessary products states that it comes from the panic of seeing an empty shelf and immediately longing for the item that was originally there (MoneyWise, 2020). As unusual as this response might seem, it’s simply humans copying each other and wanting what others have; an ideal that is not new to society. 

    This week I was tasked with watching the items discarded by my family and how it has changed due to the current pandemic. As I was eating throughout the week, the assignment lingered in my head and what my waste used to look like versus what it currently is. One thing I noticed is the sudden use of plastic water bottles in my family’s recycling bin. It caught my attention because normally everyone in my family uses some sort of reusable water bottle. We even have an entire cupboard in our kitchen that only has reusable water bottles, mason jars, and reusable straws; yet for some reason is being ignored during this time. Staying hydrated is a requirement of staying healthy in general, however, this just seemed like a wanton disregard for our environment.

    I also found three empty jars of Nescafe Instant Coffee, which I wasn’t that surprised to see in the trash. Now that people are in quarantine and many have lots of free time to experiment and try new things, TikTok has grown increasingly popular. And on this app, there was a video posted that showed how to make a drink called ‘Dalgona Coffee’ that is not only aesthetically pleasing but easy to make and delicious to drink. According to a New York Post article, this fluffy whipped coffee was first posted by @iamhannahcho and has since gotten over 3.5 million views (Frishberg, 2020). My family and I are all avid caffeine addicts, and whether it comes in the form of Somali chai tea or coffee, it’s something we consume daily. So with the quarantine orders and minimizing the number of times we leave the house, we were left to make coffee at home every day. Eventually, we got tired of using the coffee appliances we have and decided to try out this drink and have been making it every day since. However, it’s not just my family but thousands of others trying out this drink and now grocery store shelves prove that instant coffee has become another hot commodity. It’s interesting because, although people are in quarantine and a pandemic is killing thousands each day, society is still hooked on getting the lasted trend and staying up to date on what’s new and cool around them.

References: 

Frishberg, Hannah. 2020. How To Make Whipped Dalgona Coffee, Tiktok’S Latest Viral Trend. [online] New York Post. Available at: <https://nypost.com/2020/03/26/how-to-make-whipped-dalgona-coffee-tiktoks-latest-viral-trend/> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

MoneyWise. 2020. Don’t Waste Money Hoarding These 20 Items During The Coronavirus Outbreak. [online] Available at: <https://moneywise.com/a/quarantine-items-you-dont-need> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

COVID 19 Consumption Trends and Social Media

By: Balqisa

As the weeks of social distancing and isolation continue to pass by, I have noticed an interesting trend within my household.  As one of seven children, it was a rarity for all of us to be home at the same time. With all of our busy work and school schedules, we would typically see each other in passing. Most of our meals were apart from each other and usually on the go. As a result of this current social climate, I began to notice that whenever anyone of us left the house it would either be to take a walk around the neighborhood or to the grocery store. 

With our social boredom, we began to try to replicate and recreate recipes of our favorite foods.  We attempted to make everything from Chicken Pad Thai to Sushi to Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan. Although it probably would have been tasted better from a restaurant, bonding over our impromptu recipes from Youtube helped fill the social void as we were able to share it on social media with our friends and family. 

Through Social Media specifically TikTok, we would see others recreate simple and easy recipes. One that caught my eye was the Dalgona Coffee recipe. Originally found in Asia, Dalgona coffee was popularized as people all around the world were staying home due to shelter in place laws. What was amazing about this coffee recipe was how it used things that were already in our pantries.  A Vox article reported that the recipe was “easy and replicable (as most emerging internet trends are), which helped it proliferate on social media. But it appears that dalgona coffee is only the beginning: As more people find themselves at home, they’re collectively gravitating toward certain activities and consumable content in their isolated reality, in hopes of feeling a little less alone”.

@imhannahcho

yes i hand whisked this whipped coffee for like 20 mins bc my mommy wanted to try it 👻 she loved it!! (달고나 커피) #korean #fyp #aesthetic

♬ Put your head on my shoulder cover by karlo – karlogutierrez

Changes in our consumption reflect how connected we are to each other on a global scale. Although social isolation feels as though we are alone, it makes it easier to know that everyone across the globe feels the same as you do. These social media trends help us by creating activities that occupy and distract us. It not only makes people feel useful but it aids in feeling less alone and more connected. 

In the past few weeks, I have noticed that in my household we have been discarding a lot of food waste as a result of us cooking more and eating out less. There is a reduced amount of plastic material being consumed as we are using plates and cups that are reusable. Also, there is an increase in the consumption of paper towels, gloves, face masks,  hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes and cleaning supplies such as bleach. Due to our current climate, we want to feel even safer and protected than before. I find myself overly disinfecting surfaces like countertops, computers and my phone to give myself peace of mind. In addition, as a family, we have begun to consume juices and teas that aid in boosting the immune system. If a future archeologist could look at our trash, they would be able to interpret our waste as people living through a pandemic that are attempting to keep themselves healthy. Things such as latex gloves and face masks can highlight how widespread this current situation is.

Sources:

Hannah Cho on TikTok. Retrieved from https://www.tiktok.com/@imhannahcho/video/6804149721406393605

Nguyen, T. (2020, April 7). The micro-trends of quarantine, from dalgona coffee to PowerPoint parties. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/4/7/21207127/things-to-do-during-quarantine-dalgona-coffee-bread-baking-trends