Tracking Our Trash in 2016

Our trash last year was pretty minimal, but I know we can do better! So this year I’m taking inventory. Every piece of recycling and trash will be considered “waste”. Recyclables will be delivered to the recycling center when our cans fill up, but actual trash will be kept for the entire year (and washed and dried as necessary!)

For this project, we have several “trash cans” in our bathroom. The jam jar belongs to me, the Christmas lights box is for our children, the Lego tub is for the family as a whole, and my husband has an actual garbage bin.


After one month, our recycling bins still have a decent amount of space. The beer bottles and cans are my husband’s. I’ve been sticking to growlers!


Growlers keep bottles out of the recycling bin.

This is the trash we’ve accumulated so far…

My jar holds a razor head (the handle is reusable), plastic wrap from my annual Shutterfly album, tape from the Shutterfly box, an empty pill pack, 2 stickers from craft felt, and tape from a shipping label.


The boys’ box has 4 plastic bits from broken toys, a sticker back, a broken piece of a hanger, 2 plastic tags from new rain boots (which were listed on my “One In, One Out” chart), a marker cap found under the couch, a dilapidated dress-up mask, a broken strand of LED Christmas lights, 2 bandaids, 2 bandaid wrappers, a piece of a sticker that came off of a bike helmet, and a paper wrapper from an ice cream cone (it doesn’t look recyclable).


Our family tub has racked up: plastic film from a light switch box, 2 broken drinking glasses (which cannot be recycled), the seal from our last of bottle dishwasher gel (we’re switching to bulk refills), 2 yogurt jar labels, 8 plastic yogurt necks, plastic wrap from new batteries (we were advised against rechargeable ones, but we do have a place to recycle them), the inner bag from our January packaged item (Envirokidz Choco Chimps), 2 soap bar stickers, 2 jam jar stickers, plastic film from the top of a banana bunch, the plastic neck from a bottle of hot sauce, a sticker from the meat counter, 108 (!) produce stickers, a cheese counter sticker from (unpackaged) Parmesan cheese, twist tie from kale, twist tie from celery, broken head from a thumbtack, and a solicitation magnet from our doctor (annoying!).


My husband’s bin is home to a disposable razor, a random piece of plastic found in the dryer (I know it’s his!), a broken, unfixable, and therefore useless headlamp, the wrapper from a frozen hamburger (our last packaged item in our emergency freezer!), 2 chip bags, a plastic sandwich wrapper, a plastic-coated, non recyclable to-go box, a shipping sticker, a travel toothpaste tube from the dentist (last one, refusing from now on!), used packing tape, a happy face bracelet from work (?), a bandaid, and a bandaid wrapper.


One month of trash, clean and dry, just chillin’ in our bathroom:


I have a vision for this trash… At the end of 2016, before we send it to its final resting place (the landfill), I want to salvage some of the more attractive pieces and make them into an art piece; a sign for our garden that spells out LIVE SIMPLY. I think this will be a very meaningful way to express a value that is truly important to our family.

And the trash tracking continues…



4 thoughts on “Tracking Our Trash in 2016

  1. Hannah February 1, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    you could try using produce stickers for your sign, unless you have a found a way to avoid, unlike me!


    • Near-O Waste February 1, 2016 / 3:54 pm

      Good idea! I need to stop folding them in half when I toss them 🙂 And I need to start getting to the farmers markets!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Taylor March 31, 2016 / 2:45 am

    I’m sorry if you have posted about this before (I just found your blog), but have you ever thought about safety razors like the one Lauren Singer uses? They are cheaper and less wasteful and the blades can be recycled. They just take a teeny bit of getting used to.


    • Near-O Waste March 31, 2016 / 4:53 pm

      Hi! Yes I have heard of these. I already bought a year’s supply of Harry’s blades for 2016 but will try safety razors next year. My last uncertainty was if I could recycle the blades or not- so thanks for telling me I can! And thanks for joining Near-O!


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