A Peek into My Trashcan

>> Sunday, January 17, 2010

I spent the afternoon digging through my trash. On the one hand, it was pretty fascinating since, like most people, we toss things in the trash without a second thought and promptly forget what's in there. On the other hand, it stunk.

I tried to make a conscious effort this week not to purposely censor my trash just because I knew I'd be showing everyone, and I thought our trash was looking pretty good. Then I woke up on Saturday morning, walked into the kitchen, and said, "Oh, crap."

You see, my husband hosted a poker party on Friday night, and several things found their way into my house that wouldn't normally be there. Like a Velveeta cheese package. And beer bottles. There were also two tortilla chip bags, a styrofoam cup, and some cans of Monster, which wouldn't normally be in our trash but still manage to find their way in on occasion.

We also didn't get a CSA pick-up this week, which unfortunately meant we ate a lot fewer vegetables. I think our food scraps are normally twice what is pictured here, and it's definitely more than our worms can handle - especially during the winter when they don't eat as much.

A Week's Worth of Trash


  • diapers
  • toilet paper (used as facial tissue)
  • food scraps
  • milk lids
  • random scraps of paper
  • plastic packaging
  • 2 superglue dispensers
  • 1 nightlight bulb
  • clementine box
  • 3 cereal bags
  • 1 cheese package
  • 1 sugar bag
  • 1 tortilla bag
  • 2 tortilla chip bags
  • 1 velveeta cheese wrapper
  • styrofoam cup with lid and straw
  • cocoa tub
  • broken belt
  • tie from sweatpants
  • broken sunglasses
  • dried-out marker
  • random craft pieces
Recyclables (not pictured):
  • 2 milk jugs
  • 3 soymilk containers
  • 3 fruit cans
  • 1 olive can
  • 1 tomato can
  • several beer bottles
  • several Monster cans
  • 3 cereal boxes
  • 1 velveeta cheese box
  • random pieces of paper from First Son's school, our art projects, and junk mail.
Compostables (not pictured - fed to worms)
  • 3 yogurt containers of carrot peels, apple cores, sandwich crusts, and other miscellaneous food scraps

A few notes about some of the items:

Diapers: We use cloth during the day and disposables at night because my kids get terrible rashes when we try cloth at night. The babe that's in diapers now has about six more months, I think, until we'll be done with diapers for good.

Random scraps of paper: This included colored paper (which our recycling doesn't accept), nonrecyclabe Christmas and birthday cards, and various other bits that somehow got dirty or oily.

Broken sunglasses: Second Son got these from the doctor. They broke the next day.

Milk jugs: Normally we buy milk in returnable glass bottles, but Whole Foods was out of stock last week.

Brainstorming Solutions
  • Diapers: Try cloth at night one more time. If that doesn't work, prepare to potty train.
  • Toilet paper: Make handkerchiefs.
  • Food scraps: Start another worm bin or try traditional composting.
  • Random scraps of paper: Try harder not to get paper dirty, making it unrecyclable.
  • Plastic packaging: Be more mindful of the packaging on products I buy.
  • Cereal bags and boxes, tortilla bag, tortilla chip bags: Make food from scratch.
  • Sugar bag, cocoa container: Check the bulk bins.
  • Food cans: Can at home in glass jars.
Now I have a plan of action for reducing my trash.

How is your trash exploration going? Did you keep track of your trash for a week?

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crstn85 January 17, 2010 at 7:32 PM  

I didn't do a full sort, but I poked around a bit. There was more food that had gone bad than I would have expected, plus I throw most of my food scraps down the disposal in the sink. I really do need to find a compost solution. Otherwise my trash contained a couple pieces of packaging that couldn't be recycled and a vacuum filter (finally changed mine after 2 years, made a big difference in power!). Everything else made it into the recycling. I'm lucky that our town takes all plastics, now if they would just start composting I'd be all set!

Wonder-ful January 17, 2010 at 10:34 PM  

I didn't sift through everything (I'd require a haz-mat suit before I ever attempt to sort through a bag full of adult diapers!)

Most of our other trash consisted of bits and junk from cleaning out the bathroom and bedroom, food wrappers (we're making amends for this one) and the last of the styrofoam pile from Christmas.

I am saddened to say that we did fill our recycle can this week. It's nice that we're recycling what we can (except for food scraps..still), but I still have a problem filling up the recycle bin. Half of it is food packaging (tin cans, cardboard boxes...)

I don't think the household changes are going to show (garbage wise) until late March/early April when we're done purging and spring cleaning and it catches up with our changes in shopping (drastically reduced).

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