My first year living Zero Waste (aka, see how much trash I produced in 1 year)

3 June 2015
My first year living Zero Waste

This is my first YEAR living zero waste. Below is all the rubbish I have produced from June 2014 - June 2015.

June 2014 - December 2014 > blog post here


January 2015 – June 2015

My first year living Zero Waste

My thoughts on my first year living zero waste. Well I liked having a this jar to track my journey. Living in a city with bulk food stores and businesses with open minds does make this easier. I often then if I lived now in the small town I grew up in there would be no way one year of rubbish would fill up 3/4 of a coffee jar. You don't have to use jar or keep a jar of waste. To me it was a fun way to track my change even if this privilege not available everywhere. 

If anything zero waste has helped me really change my mindset and teach me self reflection. When i make a decision it's not "oh no, will this fit in my jar?!" it's instead about other questions like how much waste was created upstream during the manufacturing of this product or was someone treated kindly or is this greenwashing. I have slowed down alot. 

I guess another bonus has been watching our recycling reduce to almost nothing. The mindset really helps you re evaluate all resources around you. 

But again this is a privilage to some and a way of serving for others. Zero waste is practiced in many different cultures all ready. It's not radical. Or maybe it's radical to people who have forgotten this way of thinking for generations. People like me.

Looking at the trash over the last six months (second image) I can see that it is significantly smaller than the first. What seems to be the biggest contributor is receipts, boarding passes and baggage tags from my trip to the Philippines earlier this year. Another big item is a pair of sunglasses that I broke on that same trip and repaired when we got home…and they broke again on another part of the frame.

The contents of the last six months that cannot be recycled (yet) by the local recycling companies:
  • Plastic clothing swing tags and small plastic ring from a swing tag
  • Baggage tags
  • Broken sunglasses
  • Loose thread
  • Receipts and boarding passes
  • Sticky labels from cheese and Plastic packing tape
  • Freshness packet
  • Four clothing tags
  • Cotton swab/tape from a blood test
  • Plastic spoon and plastic toothpick

Comparing to the first six months I can see a theme. I need be more vigilant when at any cash registers and not go into lala land when handing my bank card over. I have a holiday to the US coming up and I know there will be baggage tags and boarding passes as a result, though we are doing carry on so this will minimise the larger destination identifier tags.

Another waste item I intend to tackle is sticky labels from cheese. We buy cheese in wax or cloth not plastic and sometimes the cheese will come with a sticky label on it. So we need to find someplace that sells a cheese in wax or cloth without any sticky label. I could make my own but I might leave cheese making to the pros. I could give up cheese. It's not a necessity after all.

And that's another thing this zero-waste challenge had really tested me on is what is necessity and luxury. I'm really questioning everything I've been told is necessary which is mostly luxury things I don't need. It's this luxury life we have fooled ourselves into thinking are necessities that are destroying our planet.

What you don't see in the jar are the letters and emails sent to companies and politicians asking for them to help create less wasteful products too. This has taken up a bit of time and energy. I do see it as an important part of living zero waste. Asking for change is just as important as being the change.

I will continue with the waste jar as i think it will help me stay accountable. I can easily give in to temptation but this should help me stay on track until these new habits are my new normal. The jar is reminder of the big systems that need to change and the habits we all have that will either feed it or dismantle it. 
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