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Garbage Journey


A recent project from the brains at MIT aims to raise awareness of how garbage impacts the environment. As part of their Trash Track program, the researchers deployed specially developed tracking devices to learn where garbage goes and how it gets there.

From a news report on the project:

What if we knew exactly where our trash was going and how much energy it took to make it disappear? Would it make us think twice about buying bottled water or “disposable” razors?

[…] Trash Track relies on the development of special electronic tags that will track different types of waste on their journey through the disposal systems of New York and Seattle. The project will monitor the patterns and costs of urban disposal and create awareness of the impact of trash on our environment — revealing the last journey of our everyday objects.

Volunteers in the two cities will have pieces of their trash — representative of the cities’ overall garbage patterns — tagged and tracked in order to shine some light on what one researcher calls the “removal chain.”

“The study of what we could call the ‘removal chain’ is becoming as important as that of the supply chain,” the lab’s associate director, Assaf Biderman, explains. “Trash Track aims to make the removal chain more transparent. We hope that the project will promote behavioral change and encourage people to make more sustainable decisions about what they consume and how it affects the world around them.”

Photo courtesy of MIT and the Trash Track team