When you take the trash out to the curb each week you probably have an idea about where it’s going. A landfill. But what else do you know about the journey that shampoo bottle is going to take? For most of us, as soon as we let go of the handle on the trash can, all those items are out of sight and out of mind. Realistically, we’ve got no idea where that theoretical landfill is, who lives next to it, or just how far our bottle goes to get there.
No longer. Technological innovation has done wonders for our ability to unlock the mysteries of the ages. Now, a group of researchers from MIT are is using cutting edge technology to answer some of those trash-themed questions.
The project is called TrashTrack. You may have heard that a cell phone based technology has recently been used to track the wildlife habits of elephants, or to analyze the grazing patterns of cows (if you haven’t heard- check it out here). TrashTrack is applying the same concept to our trash cycle. The project “uses hundreds of small, smart, location aware tags… attached to different types of trash so that these items can be followed through the city’s waste management system, revealing the final journey of our everyday objects in a series of real time visualizations.”
The project designers pose this question: if we were to know more about the “removal-chain” of our stuff, could we be inspired to act more deliberately when we make decisions about recycling, and even when we decide to buy an item with more or less packaging?
Data from the tracking is still being collected, but you can see initial results at the TrashTrack website.
What do you think? Will a map of the path taken by a tossed out shampoo bottle help us understand what it means to throw so much stuff away? Would you think differently about your trash if you knew just exactly where it was going?