Could you make zero trash for 30 days?


Originally published at:


Then who will take out the trash?


Who will take out the trash? Robots. Or meatbots.

Our local refuse company has cut down on guys moving bins by implementing a set of containers that can be picked up by a robot arm and dumped in the bin. There is even a different truck that handles the split bin with paper falling into one side and the recycling into the other.

We compost for the garden, a different compost handles like meat bones etc goes into another bin (they make great compost at our waste mgt peeps that they sell or donate to school gardens - and the biogas runs the fermenters. Then we have a recycling bin for paper and plastics/metals (they sort various metals from various plastics at the waste facility). We generate so little actual trash that the trash bin is physically smaller and we sometimes don't put it out cuz it isn't full from a week.

I'd like to see our family of 5.5 make zero trash (maybe by making the trash bits into art?) Can we get anyone interested in funding that? I count recycling as not-trash, but your mileage my differ.


What are average American people doing that they generate so much trash?

I just hauled a week's worth of trash and recycling to the curb this morning. About 2 pounds of trash, about 1 pound of recyclables. Some of that trash was compostable food waste from not eating all my grocery store items before they rotted, and the rest was plastic product packaging. Some of the recyclable was 33-year-old Nixie tube boxes. I've gone through all the bulk tubes (5000), and am now using military surplus replacement tubes.

OK, there was also some trash that I threw away in restaurants, who could do better by using dishes instead of consumable packaging.


What do you qualify as trash? The kitty litter is going to make it nigh impossible as isn't allowed to be flushed here, even with flushable litter. It is mostly food soiled things that can't compost/recycle.
Between the food and yard waste container and recycling bin the actual trash is quite minimal now.


How about your last vehicle? And computers, tvs, etc. Construction and/or renovation of your home?

Week to week we don't necessarily produce a lot of trash, but include the bigger goods and life cycle stuff and things get crazy.


No. No I could not. But I could throw it over the neighbor's fence.


I probably could if I had a freezer full of leftovers in reusable containers, but I think technically I would also have to be composting my human waste too.

The great majority of the trash we make is from diposable containers.

To really create no trash means not living in the city, and not buying anything pre-packaged. I could do it in the country with a vegetable garden and chicken coop, and perhaps a local dairy to get stuff from, but in the city at best you can cut down on your trash, not completely stop it.




ETA: There are compost facilities hereabouts, but unfortunately they are not particularly accessible, so I wind up accumulating rather unsightly piles of used paper cups and takeout containers (which are supposedly compostable hereabouts) filled with eggshells and paper wrappers, which I eventually haul off in bulk. Everything comes at a price.


Could you make zero trash for 30 days?

The short answer:


My vehicle is a 1958 Chevy. My last vehicle was a 1965 Volvo, that my nephew now has. Before that (late eighties), a 1953 Buick.

I use stuff up.


when i first saw this article, i thought BB was asking buzzfeed if they could make zero trash for 30 days, and i was all, "bet they can't!"



How big is your household?



I knew you were Old, but not that old!



I just cleaned out a supply closet and decided not to trash everything but separate every scrap of material to its closets material (paper, plastic, metal, ect.).

I actually think it was easier than putting stuff straight to trash. Once the opportunity for the item to be recycled was placed in my head, I found it easier to stort through and discard what needed to go. Way less struggling. The idea it would be used somewhere else meant less anxiety about destroying a "perfectly good thing" (they weren't good things, just junk, but in my hoarders mind...).

In one day I think I got rid of more clutter and emotional junk that I had in over a decade. All by taking a few extra steps that, in retrospect, was more complicated in my imagination than practice.


Idea for a chrome extension: A bowdlerizer which replaces "?" at the end of any h1, h2, h3, 4h, h5, or h6 html text with "?" (a link to Betteridge's law).


Oh, I could definitely make zero trash for 30 days. On day 31 I'm going to have a ton, though.