Trash Compare: Backpacking Versus Taco Bell

April 20, 2009 at 5:00 am 12 comments

On this blog I’ve done season compares.  Here’s something new– A trash compare!  Last week, Ryan Somma and I went on a 30.2 mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.  That meant Thursday, Friday and Saturday we carried our room and board, our food, our entertainment… and our trash.  When you are backpacking, you are conscious of weights and you try to keep the things you carry at a minimum. Trash is no exception.

Backpacking - Trash Compare
Trash Compare – Backpacking Versus Dinner

On the left is the waste from the backpacking trip. This includes trash from three breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners and daily snacks. It also includes debris from hygiene activities and some pieces of litter we picked up off the trail.

On the right– the waste from our dinner last night. We had Taco Bell and treated ourselves to homemade sundaes. The paper towels were from an unfortunate incident when I dropped my bowl of ice cream in the living room.

I suppose I could have compacted the Taco Bell trash more– perhaps storing the paper towels inside one of the Taco Bell containers. Nonetheless, I believe it is safe to say this one meal generated quite a bit of trash compared to eight on the trail.

Though I do have to say after 30.2 miles, that one trash-filled meal was incredibly satisfying.

Particularly the cold ice cream. 🙂

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Taco Bell.

Weekly Winners – April 12 – April 18, 2009 Season Compare: The Ellipse

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sheer  |  April 20, 2009 at 5:20 am

    We as a society have a huge problem with overpackaging. I hate to think how many megawatt hours of energy, and how many difficult-to-replace resources, we waste packaging things. It’s one of my arguments against money – a lot of our packaging exists for reasons that wouldn’t be necessary if there was no money. However, in the case of fast food, I think that the overpackaging is just because it’s convenient for us to be able to grab whatever the food item is quickly – I know there must be a better solution, possibly involving bringing our own containers to fast food restaurants.. but I don’t really know what it would look like or what the ramifications would be. Ah well. So much for having all the ideas to fix the universe. Glad you and Ryan enjoyed your trip.. and your post-trip Taco Bell.

  • 2. geekhiker  |  April 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    No weight comparison? No chart showing the numbers of items from each meal (a bar chart, perhaps)? 😉

  • 3. Robin  |  April 21, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Some of that Taco Bell trash can be reused. Taco Bell has great (free) spocks/foons and free condements to take backpacking.

    BackpackBaseCamp Blog

  • 4. tgaw  |  April 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    @Sheer – Interesting thoughts. It is a small gesture, but I do try to get the “house cup” (aka a real mug) when I work at the local coffee shop as opposed to the disposable paper mugs.

    @geekhiker – Hahaha… Yeah, I was a bit tired!

    @Robin – Thanks for commenting. You are right– the Taco Bell containers could be reused. Though, I actually find the Taco Bell sporks to be a bit flimsy (I have broken a number of them in the past trying to ingest Mexican Pizzas), but the other containers could be lightweight and handy! Also, I have heard GREAT, GREAT things about reusing the Chic-Fil-A salad containers for backpacking. Thought provoking. This may warrant further investigation on my part. 🙂

  • 5. ideonexus  |  April 22, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I really enjoyed Rockeboom’s 2007 Earthday video about packaging. Really drives the issue of over-packaging home : )

  • 6. Phytoremediating Doritos Bags and Soda Cans « TGAW  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:04 am

    […] More Garbage than a Backpacking Trip! […]

  • 7. tgaw  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    @ideonexus – AWESOME video!

  • 8. Anne  |  April 25, 2009 at 9:08 am

    When bulk products were introduced in the grocery stores (early 70’s?), the idea was to save on packaging. 12 paper towels in one large plastic bag instead of 12 small bags. This was supposed to save money for the consumer and resources for the world. Now when I buy bulk paper towels, I buy 12 small plastic bags and one large plastic bag.

  • 9. Travel backpacking around the world « Vootri's Blog  |  October 3, 2009 at 6:04 am

    […] they are accustomed to at home. As a result, hostels are evolving and offering more up-market accommodation to those still traveling on a budget in order to obtain their business. The hostels have realized a […]

  • […] they are accustomed to at home. As a result, hostels are evolving and offering more up-market accommodation to those still traveling on a budget in order to obtain their business. The hostels have realized a […]

  • 11. JimmyTH  |  January 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I can’t stand camping in a trashy location, so I usually pack an extra heavy duty trash bag for the garbage I find. First thing I do is pick up all the crap other people left. Usually go home with a bag of cans and paper strapped to the outside of the pack. If people leave even a little bit, like half burned paper in the ashes of the fire, it really messes up the scenery. Most trips you can find too much to carry out.

  • 12. Gauge  |  January 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    @JimmyTH: Altruism at its finest. Keep up the good work! Last time I went camping, my allergies hit me so bad that I could barely help my wife pack up, let alone pick up random crap.


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