Having a visual representation of trash we produce can be powerful and compelling.
It can showcase just how much trash is produced by a single person or action, as is the case with these examples:
- 1 million disposable cups – the amount used by airline flights in the US every six hours
- Rob Greenfield wore his trash around NYC for 30 days
- A local Vermont student saved their trash for a really cool art exhibit
Or it can show just how little garbage a person, a family, a company, a school can produce when taking careful measures. Having a see-through jar to showcase trash has been a cornerstone for many zero-waste heroes from Bea of Zero Waste Home and Lauren of Trash is For Tossers to Andrea of Be Zero Waste and Kathryn of Going Zero Waste.
I’ve been using a jar to showcase my family’s trash production this year, too. But now I’m quitting the jar.
Well, I’m taking a different tactic starting now. The jar is a great tool but I’ve outgrown it. There have been times where awkward pieces of garbage couldn’t fit. Like this month when the plastic hard cider can lid connector thing (that used to be recyclable in my area but suddenly are not and destined for the landfill) took up half of my jar, but really my jar was mostly air. I kept taking it out to put new things in, and eventually it just started to sit on my counter. Being trashy. Messing with my nice clean counter. Yes my husband and I really do care about having a clear counter, Marie Kondo-style. Most of our trash is compact-able, like receipts, labels, stickers, misc plastic packaging like the layer of plastic protecting the lid of a vitamin bottle. But moving forward, instead of making things fit by cutting things down/etc. to fit in the glass cylinder, I’m just going to let it go. We have a big trash bag (yes, plastic, groan) “going” in our garage and while the jar will still be the place we primarily stash trash, I’m going to empty the jar whenever necessary into the larger bag. I’ll see how long it takes us to fill up a standard kitchen bag. Hopefully a few months at least.
I’ll still be using the jar as the “first stop” for trash. It serves as a way for my husband and I to still be very mindful of the trash we produce. I like having to confront each piece and think – did I need to buy this? Can this be reused/composted/recycled instead?
Will this new system work? I think so but I don’t know for sure. I will of course keep you posted. Because I can’t keep my mouth shut 🙂
What do you think of this? Am I “cheating?” Are you glad the jar will be gone? I love interacting with my readers – please keep chatting with here, on my Instagram and via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).