What the Heck am I Throwing Away? My One-Week Trash Diary

While my husband is gone it’s just me in this house, which means it’s my job to take out the trash and recycling. Fun.

Each week I empty my trash cans from various rooms in the house and plop my one medium bag of trash into the big bin outside, and wheel it to the curb to sit beside my week’s recycling.

One night during this little walk down the driveway, I thought, “Wow. Should I even take the trash to the curb every week? I only have one bag.”

My next thought: “I’m only one person. Why do I have a whole bag of trash and a decent amount of recycling for just me?”

Good question, if I do say so myself.

And being me, I need to answer my own question and then share with you. So, I’ve done a one-week experiment to see just what is filling up my one medium trash bag in only seven days. I compost, I recycle, so what is left?

Well, here you are: one week’s worth of things I threw away (that couldn’t be recycled):

  • two plastic sandwich bags
  • kleenex (unfortunately more sanitary than hankies and not as gross)
  • CVS receipt (Why do these have to be so long?)
  • stale crackers
  • empty candy bag
  • plastic packaging from coffee filters
  • two almond containers
  • two gum wrappers
  • corner of frozen veggie package
  • non-recyclable junk mail (Yes, I’m supposed to be on the Do Not Mail lists. It was a hologram postcard … really? Thanks Shark TV.)
  • floss
  • two band-aids (cut finger. sadness)
  • Crystal Light Pure package
  • 1/2 stale tortilla
  • tortilla packaging
  • cleaning wipes (I do use sparingly)
  • plastic tea bag packaging (Trader Joes – come on!!)
  • new contact lens metallic seals
  • plastic straw (Did you know they make stainless steel straws? They are great!)
  • running shirt tag
  • airplane ticket
  • coconut oil lid seal
  • race bib from my half-marathon
  • stale graham crackers and the packaging they came in (I recycled the box)
  • Hershey bar wrappers (No judging – I made Smore’s cupcakes for a birthday party.)
  • marshmallow fluff lid seal (Again, don’t judge! See above.)
  • dress tags (the part that couldn’t be recycled)
  • almond milk container
  • old rice
  • wine cork
  • a few pieces of tape
  • glossy business cards
  • q-tips
  • vitamin lid seal
  • bottle cap
  • end of a candle (wax and wick)
  • top of tofu packaging
  • Emergen-C packet
  • vinegar cap seal
  • plastic mesh onion bag
  • wax paper
  • shreds of plastic from old dog toys
  • paper towels (though I try to use them sparingly)
  • cupcake sleeves (those Smore’s cupcakes were delish)
  • grocery receipts
  • fruit snack packaging (I shouldn’t go to the grocery hungry)
  • salmon packaging
  • old hot dog bun
  • old noodles

I didn’t track my recycling though in hindsight I should have. It usually includes food boxes, junk mail, magazines, glass beverage bottles, etc. Another post perhaps? This little experiment makes me want to track how much water I’m wasting too. Yet another blog post in the future … maybe.

I learned a lot on this week-long  journey:

  • Technically you can recycle sandwich bags. You cannot, however, where I live (only plastics 1 and 2). If you want to reduce, then wash and dry them and use them again.
  • You can’t recycle cardboard milk containers – they have wax which makes them non-recyclable.
  • You should be able to recycle aluminium foil if it is rinsed. I am not sure if I can in this town so I do it anyway just in case.
  • I still can’t figure out if I can recycle those shiny credit card receipts. Anyone know? I always opt out of getting a copy when I have the choice.
  • I have a pet peeve against wasting food. However, I waste a lot of food.
  • Packaging creates a lot of waste. (In theory I knew this, but it is frustrating when trying not to throw any away.) I’m renewing my resolve to avoid packaging where I can.
  • I would love it if my town could recycle even more (such as all plastics 1 through 7) but at least there is a program–my hometown still does not recycle. This continues to sadden me.
  • This site has a handy list of what you can and can’t recycle.
  • This task was kind of like a food diary – I think much more about what I’m putting in my trashcan when I know I have to write it down and share it.
  • I could become a hoarder if I did this every week. I tried very hard to find ways to not throw things away.

Now here is my challenge to you: Keep your own trash diary just for one day to see what you are throwing away, and during the process think about how you could make your trash bag a little less plump.

And, let me know if you have any good, easy tips for reducing my own bag of trash.

PS: I stumbled across this blog in my research of what I could/couldn’t recycle: Talkin Trash: A practical peek into the Montgomery County, MD, Division of Solid Waste Services.  Very interesting posts on recycling and good advice!

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1 Comment

  1. Great reminders Stacy!


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