The Trash Blog

The Project

We both think that the way we deal with garbage is too easy: you throw it in your garbage can and poof, it vanishes. Magic tricks are nice, but most of the time they are too good to be true. Besides, garbage never claimed to be magical.

The trash blog is our attempt to take the magic out of throwing things away. As a society we’ve figured out some pretty ingenious methods for making our garbage look like it has vanished–like it’s all been sent to this never-never-land called Away. We are searching for Away.

We started by driving around the United States looking at everything from landfills to recycling plants to garbage artists to compost bins. Sadly, when you’re using your savings to fund something like this, you can’t keep it up forever. Having finished our roadtrip, we’re continuing to search for Away wherever life takes us. We’re hoping to get Away’s mug shots, prom pictures, baby photos, funeral pictures and everything in between.

How it all came about – Margaret’s version:

I may completely lack any coordination, but my dedication knows no bounds!

I may completely lack any coordination, but my dedication knows no bounds!

We first got interested in trash in 2008 when I was working on a short documentary about environmental artist Bryant Holsenbeck. All of Bryant’s work is made out of found and recycled materials. She kept talking about plastic and how it would never go away, and somehow this got under our skin.

The idea of The Trash Blog didn’t come about until a few years later though, when I was working in Miami and Phil was back in Bellingham. I was calling Phil to say it was all over and he might as well move on and find himself another lady, but as I was working myself up to do this Phil started in with his usual dreaming jibberish about something or other and… well, the Trash Blog was born.

Bryant had this phrase, ‘Where is away?’ and in a way that has become the theme of this project: finding away.

And now fast forward a few more years later, it’s 2013, we’re married, and we have the perfect little gap in life this summer to actually do this. Phil always says that if you don’t act on your dreams, then you never will. So, we are doing it. And our first challenge is to buy a car for less than half of what we currently have in our bank account. Oye.

Phil’s Version:

A regular day in our life.

A regular day in our life.

I can’t remember how we came up with the idea for the trash blog.

Maybe it had to do with realizing how strange it was that everybody was acting like garbage just disappeared even though it’s in every room, on every street, practically everywhere you look. It’s pretty hard to be anywhere in a city and be out of sight of trash. Where’s it all end up?

The original idea was to visit landfills all over the US. But we began realizing that most landfills look pretty much the same, in the same way that most piles of garbage look pretty much the same. So we’ve had to expand the original idea a bit. If it has to do with garbage it’s fair game.

Maybe it’s an excuse to take three months off and have a road trip.

Image Credit: (We have to thank Christina DeBusk for the excellent photographs on this page. She took our engagement photos in 2011, and, of course, we had to have some trash somewhere!)


5 thoughts on “The Project

  1. G-CO on said:

    Aww, I see the Trash Flower will go to waste then. Egads, such irony!

  2. If you go to Oregon on your trip (not sure as your map isn’t up yet), you have to visit Sara at Sara Bella Upcycled – she makes great stuff out of upcycled plastic.

  3. Diana Gomez on said:

    “Maybe it had to do with realizing how strange it was that everybody was acting like garbage just disappeared” Like a huge TV will disappeared from an apparment dumpster in WhiteRock??? Gooo guys!!!! I am so excited to star reading about all of your adventures!

  4. Scott Finley on said:

    A tour of the waste scene in America should include a trip to Lopez Island in the San Juans. Faced with poor county management of “the dump” and the prospect of the operation being privatized, Lopez citizens voted last November to tax themselves and take over management of waste management. Seventy-five people stepped forward to form an effective volunteer team. Co-mingled recycling, which formerly had a fee, was transformed into 18 separate, well managed stations. The “Take-it-or-Leave it” free store was reorganized for greater efficiency. In the first three months the quantity of trash hauled off-island was greatly reduced. To find out more go to:

  5. You guys are hilarious– I love reading your shenanigans and lessons learned. More people need to think about where the little things they throw “away” go and how they add up. keep it up =)

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