Why I Don’t Keep Track of My Trash

It seems that a prerequisite to being zero waste is owning at least two mason jars. One to take with you and fill up with pretty green smoothies or fair-trade coffee, and the other to store your tiny amount of trash in. When I think zero waste, I think trash jars. And trash jars are awesome if you choose to have one (seriously, mad respect if that works for you), but here’s why I don’t.

The video is a little long and rambling, which I enjoy in YouTube videos, but if you don’t you can read the abridged version here:

I live with my boyfriend, James, and together we have one tiny trash can for our entire apartment. We fill it up occasionally (sometimes once a month, sometimes it takes much longer) and we take it out to the dumpster when it’s full. I don’t post photos of it or discuss what is in it before we take it out. I do this, not because I’m ashamed we create trash, but because I don’t want anyone judging whether or not they are doing enough to classify as zero waste based on how much trash I create. And mostly, I don’t want to judge myself every time we have to take the trash out.

Trash happens. In today’s society it is almost inevitable. And of course there are things you can do to avoid it, and create as little as possible, but it still happens. I mention in the video the concept of a circular economy and then go on to sort of roughly explain it (if you’d like a really well thought out and detailed description check out http://www.bezero.org/zero-waste-mindset/).

The way our society consumes is currently a pretty linear process. Resources are extracted, a product is manufactured, that product is consumed, and the waste is thrown away. Recycling does happen, but the responsibility almost always falls on the consumer, not the manufacturer. As long as we continue to have businesses run this way, waste is going to happen.

Bottom line: don’t feel bad if you can’t fit all your trash in one container, just do the best that you can. That’s all I’m doing.


3 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Keep Track of My Trash

  1. I so agree with this. I started our zero waste journey about 12 months ago for me and my husband and 2 kids. Trash does just happen – think kids party bags given with generosity and friendship – I’ve realised I need to sweat the stuff I can control and do the very best I can and often this influences my circle as well but also to recognise there is inevitable rubbish along the way and anxiety over this just adds rubbish to my mind as well hindering the positivity I feel I need to really pursue a zero waste lifestyle. Thanks


  2. Thank you for this! I just started my zero waste journey…I am talking less than a month ago, and I have already been disappointed in myself because I am still producing trash. How can I not? Am I supposed to refuse the individually wrapped candies my new Chinese neighbor gives me? Am I supposed to pretend that it is ok to justify spending double on fresh produce rather than buying the manager’s special produce that happens to be wrapped in plastic? That’ll become waste too eventually.

    We don’t need trash shaming. We need real CHANGE!


    1. Yes! Totally agree, trash shaming helps no one. I used to find myself getting angry or stressed out when family gave us gifts or homemade treats that created trash. And that didn’t do anything except make it awkward whenever people gave us things. I still try to encourage them to give us unpackaged items, but I no longer put so much energy into stressing about the trash that is created if they don’t.

      Good luck with your zero waste journey and thanks so much for sharing your view!


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