Minimizing Entropy + living trash and recycling free: Individual activism in the face of large problems

When I started living trash and recycling free (or, started trying to produce as little of them as possible (with the only exceptions being stickers on fruit and plastic caps off of glass milk bottles) for the last two-and-a-half years I was in Ann Arbor, I had no idea that trying to understand my personal relationship with material--recyclable or not--would help me understand my place in the intricate web of social, economic, and political interactions that cause social injustice and ecological degradation. The act of living trash and recycling free is completely unlike trying to personally conserve energy in one’s home. Since trash is a product of social interactions, reducing material consumption requires being able to constantly talk to others about it, and being vulnerable to questioning and criticism.

My thoughts about trash and recycling thus quickly unfolded into broader thoughts on justice, social constructs, ethics, poverty, peace and violence, language, technology, philosophy, limits of knowledge and complexity, economy, and climate change (among other issues), which are chronicled on a blog, Minimizing Entropy.

Here are a couple of my 400+ posts:

On peace, spirit, and the environment

Is abundance enough?

In year one, I produced around seven and a half pounds of trash and recycling, and in year two, the number shrunk down to six. Here are pictures of my trash and recycling from years one (top three) and two (bottom)

And below is a talk I was fortunate to be invited to give at TEDxUofM 2011: Encouraging Crazy Ideas.