ACTION 6 STUDIO I - Student Directed Action

6. A chronicle of waste

A reflective research for visualizing aspects of my consumption and waste of resources.

At this moment I’m working in a Pizzeria and throwing food into the trash is, at some point, part of the job. Most of the time it’s just the remainders of what the customers didn’t eat and oftentimes, some food gone bad is thrown away.

A day or two after the assignment for Action 6 was published, I was at the pizzeria, working and thinking about what my Action should be. Suddenly, I had to throw some tomatoes into the garbage. This was yet again one of those times when I got to do that thing that always feels wrong. Looking at the tomatoes in the bag, I started to think about all the waste I produce every week in my place of work. My next task was washing some lettuce.

The tomatoes in the bag

For washing the lettuce we use some big containers with water, where the vegetables will stay submerged for a while before drying and using them. I started filling one of those containers with water. As usual, it was a little heavy. Still thinking about the waste while holding the container with water to be thrown away in some minutes, it came to my mind how working in a kitchen, I use lots of water every day. In restaurants, people work at a very fast pace and things get dirty and messy every minute. Washing in a professional kitchen means washing fast, and washing fast also means spilling lots of water.

Those reflections continued for a few minutes while doing other things, and while taking the lettuce out of the container, I realized I could weigh the water I was just about to throw. If I was going to use it and throw it away just like that, at least I should be aware of how much water I was throwing away. So, I grabbed one of the empty Creme Fraiche buckets that we have in the kitchen, which I know they can contain up to 12 liters of water, filled it with the lettuce water once full and a second time almost completely, to about 5/6 of the capacity. The result: approximately 22 liters of water for washing some plants of lettuce. It felt definitely like a lot, a little shocking actually. Suddenly, I realized that it would be interesting to know how much water I actually use/waste daily. So, like that, I defined my Action 6: To measure and document my consumption of water per day. At work, and at home.

I already had my reference with the Creme Fraiche bucket so, I would place the bucket under the tap so that all the water I used went into there and not to the drain. I would take a picture of every bucket before throwing the water away. I did this for 5 days. It’s important to say that I did this at work every time it was possible, meaning no boss around and having the time to wash slower. During not so busy days, like Thursday, I could document more things than during Friday or Saturday. I did the same at home but actually weighing the water, and I also measured the water I used for showers, putting the plug, flooding the tub, and using a bowl as a reference for volume. At work I took as many samples as possible but, I could say that I normally use around 3 or 4 times the volume that I was able to document this time. At home, I accounted for every wash and shower but I didn’t document things like washing my hands or my teeth, for instance. Also worth noting is that while doing this action, every time I had a shower or washed anything, I was particularly careful and aware of the water consumption, using the minimum possible for each task, and even trying to break my previous records for using less water every time. So, I can say that every liter documented here is actually just a fraction of all the water I use every day under normal conditions. With all the data collected, I made a spreadsheet for putting together a consumption calculation and that could enable some further estimations.

This action made me question my consumption/waste of water and reflect on the little everyday things I can do to reduce my water spilling. What I found particularly useful with this action was that as soon as I started to visualize the water as volumes, my perception of my consumption became much more clearer. With that in mind, Action 7 will continue this action through some representations of the water I wasted while doing this.

In total, during these 5 days, I accounted for almost 312 liters of water going down the drain.

Up next, the pictures of the process and the spreadsheet:

Thursday 22 October

First day: 65,875 L

Friday 23 October

56,5 L

Saturday 24 October

107,39 L

Sunday 25 October

(No Pizzeria): 40,237 L

Monday 26 October

(No Pizzeria): 41,823 L

Consumption chart

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