What’s In My Trash #1: Family Visit Edition

Finally! I’ve been wanting to start this series because it would be helpful for me to see what exactly is in my trash can. Going through your trash and seeing where your trash comes from and what you’re sending to the landfill is a good exercise. It helps you save things that don’t belong there (something that may be compostable, recyclable, or reusable) and analyze the products you’re consuming so you can seek better solutions that are not only better for the environment, but better for you too.

My boyfriend and I have been living a zero waste lifestyle for a few months now, and we have been able to reduce or waste TREMENDOUSLY by composting and recycling, although we are always trying to minimize what we need to recycle, and cut down on food waste. Doing so has helped us to only need one trash can in our apartment (the one pictured above), which is way smaller than our old one.

I wish I could tell you how long it took to generate this much trash, but I would say probably 3-4 weeks worth of trash . In the future I plan to be more explicit, but this is okay because it’s my starting point for this series!

Row 1.

ALL of this row was generated in 1 day, when my family came to visit and we made them pasta for dinner. Pictured are pasta, spinach, and cheese bags. Usually we get spinach and pasta in bulk and forgo the cheese, but needed to make a large enough quantity and with enough animal product to satisfy my family who abhor my mostly vegan diet. Unfortunately buying in bulk, especially spinach and pasta is more expensive at our local co-op, therefore not sustainable for us, so my boyfriend bought it in plastic. We were also on a time crunch.

Solution: Be more prepared, don’t have family over (cause they’re always a load of drama anyways)


Row 2.

Again, all of this was generated in 1 day, the same day my family came over. I eat generally healthy, my family does not, and they wanted snacks. They were complaining I didn’t have any candy or junk food in my home, and went out and bought some, they also had some with them when they got here.

Solution: Don’t have family over… (There’s a reason I moved out in the first place, and it’s not zero waste related)


Row 3.

Receipts, cotton ball bag, cotton pad bag, floss picks bag, broken Method soap pump. Everything besides receipts were from pre zero waste days, that have taken forever to use up.

Solution: Receipts are hard to escape because cashiers give them to us anyways since sometimes machines print automatically, but we are and have been trying to refuse them simply to avoid the BPA in them. The only place that almost always consistently asks us if we want receipts is our local co-op and we can’t get everything there (which ironically has BPA free receipts). Funny enough, since receipts are probably the most common trash item we deal with, they end up everywhere. Our bathroom, bottom of my bag,  in the car. They’re annoying! I am planning to no longer use cotton balls, and am using old cut up leggings in place of cotton pads. Will possibly buy some organic reusable hemp ones.


Row 4.

  • Styrofoam container my mom gave me for leftover food she got me when I visited her. Styrofoam is literally the worst, but I took it anyways because I knew it wouldn’t have gotten eaten otherwise by my family and I had forgotten my tiffin (which I did have the foresight to bring, but didn’t) .
  • On top is a plastic seal from a pill bottle & plastic from prepackaged soyrizo.
  • Floss picks
  • McDonald’s cup I picked up off the side of the road when I was walking home from work one day. I try to pick up at least 10 pieces of trash I see a day.
  • Sample cups and spoons. I have become good at refusing cosmetic samples, but food samples I am still working on. We went to the mall and there were so many beautiful food samples.. The spoons actually were for ice cream made in William Sonoma which I honestly do not regret at all because it was delicious.
  • Random plastic wrapping, broken plastic bags, and plastic labels from glass jars.

Solution: Always be prepared, especially when you know you will be out for a while and there’s a possibility of food leftovers. Refuse samples. Drink champagne with foil and cork top, but also maybe not drink champagne.



This bin I got at TJ Maxx. I really like this style, and it was inexpensive/decent quality. It’s a good size and can fit a lot, potentially we will downsize again, but it works for now. I got the idea to label it with washi tape with the date when I empty out the trash, so I can see exactly how long it took us to fill it up. That way next time I do this post I can say how long it took to fill it up

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