An Indian-origin man, living in the United States has caught everyone's attention by living trash free for two-and-a-half years.
In two years, Darshan Karwat, who is pursuing his PhD in aerospace engineering from University of Michigan, produced lesser amounts of trash than the average 1,500 pounds that every American produces every year.
Inspired by the story of a British couple who lived trash-free in an episode of the radio-show "The Story" in 2010, Karwat decided to do the same, but better their record.
He started by using items that didn't require to be thrown away and can be recycled. He quit using straws to drink water, carried a fork, spoon, a plate, and a bowl everywhere he went, stopped using anything that came was packaged, and instead of toilet papers that Western countries use, resorted to water and his left hand like "hundreds of millions (including my extended family) in India do."
"I did what I had to, and sometimes it was awkward. At a house party (where the red Solo cup is king), I'd saunter into the kitchen, use a glass from the cupboard and then rinse it and put it back when I was done," he said, according to The Washington Post.
Karwat, a member of the People's Food Co-op in Ann Arbor, said that he bought things unpackaged. Realizing that most his trash came from food packaging, he commenced to reduce trash and recycle heavily.
"I bought bread from the bakery, gave up most cheeses and drank milk only when it came in reusable bottles," he said.
He even stopped buying clothes because he was aware that "creating them, transporting them and selling them at retailers generated plenty of upstream waste."
Nevertheless, Karwat confessed to some instances when his resolution got broken. During the Christmas break in 2010, his parents, who lived in Pennsylvania, decided to change the cellphone plan they shared with Karwat. Though he spent two hours to convince them to let him keep his old flip phone or at least buy an used one, he gave up. "I got a new phone that winter, the flip phone I still use. But the old one would probably still function fine," he revealed, terming the incident as "painful".
However, Karwat soon realized that most people don't understand his experiment. People constantly demanded explanations from him at restaurants, in social gatherings with colleagues and friends, and not to forget strangers who were very inquisitive.
Furthermore, after Karwat shared his experimental story to the readers on his blog, the subject of discourse soon changed from trash and recycling to massive issues like globalization, economic growth and climate change.
In the end, he learnt that the quality of his life actually improved. "I learned to be more present in my choices, and I learned what is important to me, regardless of what others think," he said.
Karwat added that people don't need to go back in time in order control their production of waste, they "just have to creative," and what began as a one-year experiment finally lasted two-and-a-half years.
Karwat produced a little over 700 pounds of trash in the first year of his experiment and cut it down to just 6 pounds in the second year.