Everyone throws away trash constantly. Whether they know it or not, this trash actually gives a large amount of information about who they are as a person, what some of their habits may be, and what their lifestyle may be like. Many times the job of an archaeologist is to dig up and sift through the trash of ancient cultures. This is done in order to learn more about what the culture was like and can give great insight as to how it functioned in the past. These methods of learning about ancient cultures are not restricted to the past however, and can be done in the present day to learn about what a person or group of people may have been like at some point. When given the task of collecting garbage and sifting through the contents, a person can only speculate as to what they will find. In my mind, I would expect to find everyday household items such as toiletries as well as many food related items such as cardboard, plastic, and aluminum containers. These are to be expected because they are everyday disposable things that people tend to throw away quite often. Everyone eats every day and typically they throw away the trash that their food was wrapped in, which can also create speculation that there will be more food related items in the trash versus other items.
In the sample of trash that I inspected I found that most of my speculations were true. Most of the contents included items that were food related such as bottles and drink containers, as well as a few toiletries. In this particular garbage analysis there was nothing that was too out of place or surprising because all of the items listed were either food wrappers, containers, or some sort of disposable toiletry.
These sorts of items would typically seem to not give too much information about a person, but if examined closely they can actually reveal more than what the person ate or used. It is obvious that the person eats every day because of all the food wrappers, and that they are a girl because of the tampons and Herbal Essence Shampoo that she threw away. However, if examined more closely we can see that all of the items thrown away are name brand items such as Coca-Cola, Healthy Choice, and Lays. These brands are not necessarily the most expensive items, but they are certainly not the cheapest. This shows that the person that purchased them is most likely a middle class citizen. These items could have been purchased at any grocery store such as Kroger’s or Wal-Mart, which is where many middle class people go to shop for groceries and other disposable items. The amount of items thrown away also suggest that the person lives alone, since the amount thrown away is about the same amount that is thrown away by a single person in four days. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person throws away just under four and a half pounds of trash a day and about twenty-nine pounds of trash per week (Bocco 2011). This person is very close to the daily average and could be considered a typical trash contributor. Taking a further look into the food containers that were thrown away, it seems that the person eating them may not be in the healthiest shape either. Although there was a container of Healthy Choice Meals, there was a much larger number of Coca-Cola cans, as well as used potato chip bags and other snacking foods. However, this over snacking may have been a result of the monthly period that she was experience at the time. Although the tampons and the food containers may seem unrelated, the tampons may explain the persistent snacking going on for the four days in which the garbage was recorded.
Reflecting on the garbage that was thrown away, it is possible to make an assumption that many people have the same trends as the person that has been analyzed. The products thrown away are what seem to be typical items that most people would throw away. However, it is shocking to think of the amount of trash that a