Waste not

by Sarah Luna

Lately it’s become increasingly clear to me that I have a limited amount of time and brain power with which to accomplish everything I want to do.


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the agonizing process of choosing an advisor/area of study here at Cornell. I only have until December to make this life-altering decision. No time to dawdle. I’ve set up my semester so that I get exposure to the applied biochemistry side of nutrition, the human clinical trial part of nutrition, and the behavioral science part of nutrition.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be working in the Caudill lab extracting choline from a controlled diet.

For  my AEM class. I designed a study to analyze the effects of three parental strategies to get kids to try new foods on the perception and actual consumption of three foods. I just sent off an Initial Approval Request to the IRB and spent the past two hours taking the basic IRB training. Gotta love internet courses.

And finally, I still have to keep up with my statistics homework and theory homework. And eat. Yeah…sometimes stuff doesn’t happen.

Brain Power

Possibly more serious than the lack of time is the lack of (adequate) brain power. Lately my top thoughts haven’t been on iron (like a good student of Jere’s should be thinking). They’ve been on my PhD/RD dilemma, my upcoming rotation in the Caudill lab, my new blog idea, my Wansink project, and how I’m going to use my nutrition knowledge to make a social impact.

My capacity for meaningful thought is limited. That’s one of the most frustrating things to admit. I can’t think deeply about everything. I have to choose what to spend my thoughts on.


I’m still getting used to Ithaca’s trash schedule. Trash pickup isn’t free here. I have to buy “trash tickets” and stick them on my can whenever I put it out. Garbage is collected only every other week. Recycling, however, is free and is collected on the off weeks.

This simple constraint has revolutionized how I think about trash. I have to calculate exactly how much I waste in two weeks to make sure it doesn’t overflow and stink up my house. I meticulously sort my garbage into recyclables and non-recyclables. I try not to throw any food away (which means I have to eat it all).

Now what if I could apply this systematic approach to my time and my brain power?  What if I could waste less and utilize more?  Sort ideas into reusable and forgettable?

Would it make me more efficient?

Waste not, want not…right?