Note: Check out the extended interview after the jump!
Sustainable Dave first caught my attention when he was interviewed on NPR at the beginning of the year. I only knew him then as the guy with the crazy trash saving idea, but it was intriguing nonetheless. Before heading over to Dave's house to interview him, I decided to keep all my trash for just that day. By the time 2pm rolled around, I already had the cardboard box from starting a new tube of toothpaste, a box and waxed paper from a morning bagel run, napkins, a plastic Starbucks cup, and two receipts. That was just in the span of 6 hours!
I'm not sure what I was expecting when we arrived at Dave's house... I had read most of his blog posts and listened to some of his radio interviews. I had a good idea of what his project was about, but I was incredibly impressed with his vast knowledge of sustainability. During his free time, he teaches classes at local schools about the impact humans have on our environment.
Dave does all kinds of things to reduce his environmental footprint. What first attracted me to his project was his use of a worm composter to dispose of his food scraps- this is why his basement doesn't smell. He also showed us the solar tube he installed in his hallway to draw light into an otherwise dark part of his house- this way he doesn't have to use electricity there, and he gets the benefit of natural daylight in the middle of his house. The roof of his house has solar panels that convert sunlight into all the electricity that he does use... in fact, his solar panels produce so much electricity that he actually sends some back to the power company and you can watch his meter run backwards. Dave's diesel engine car has been converted to run on vegetable oil, and that cuts down on a large part of his environmental impact footprint.
The best part of Sustainable Dave's project is that he goes so much more beyond being "that guy" that keeps all his trash in his basement. The underlying lesson to all this is making people more aware of the outrageous amount of trash we produce in just one day. Like Dave says in the interview, his goal is not to make you feel bad about throwing something away, but to make you realize that "Yes, this trash that I'm putting in my trash can will get hauled away... but where to and how can I cut down the trash I throw away next time?" It starts with awareness, and committing to taking one small step. Be the change you want to see!
I hope to see Dave again in December, to follow up on how his project has developed, and to learn more about the different ways we can reduce our environmental footprint. In the meantime, check out the extended cut of my interview with Dave: