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Sustainable Dave

In typical teenager fashion, I used to roll my eyes when my mom washed the tin foil... or re-used sandwich bags... or hung our laundry on the line instead of using the clothes dryer. She isn't American, or at least she wasn't born here. She grew up in World War II-era England. So she conserved because, well, that's what she always did.

How quaint, I thought, how... Old Europe.

Everything old is new again. And now, guilty about being an over-consuming, wasteful American, I've adopted most of her ideas. Even this.

(I drew the line at knitting a sweater out of dog hair.)

Dave Chameides, though, has gone even further than my mom.

He's conducting an experiment: throw nothing away for an entire year.

That means all the waste he generates goes into his basement. Every soda bottle, every tuna fish can, every strand of dental floss. It all gets cataloged here and then sorted into various bins and bags in the basement.

Check out Dave in his basement on this video: (Note: Video is still uploading.)

Here's what surprised me most: he's six months into it, and the basement is not packed to the rafters. In fact, it's not even half -full. Now, granted, Dave doesn't live like most of us. He's a super-conserver. He drives a veggie oil car, he brings his own utensils and cups with him when he goes to a Starbucks or a fast-food place. He never, ever uses a plastic bag at a grocery store. And he says he won't buy things like DVDs that are encased in plastic packaging. Instead, he writes the manufacturer to tell them why he didn't buy it.

Dave says his experiment is like writing down all the food you eat when you want to lose weight: when you see what you consume, you consume less.

So what happens at the end of the year? Where will his basement full of garbage go? Most will be recycled. The rest? Well, maybe he'll put it on eBay and sell it.

How American.

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