Could you make zero trash for 30 days?

In the UK practically everywhere has moved to fortnightly rubbish collections, with recycling being picked up every week. Most of our recycling is cardboard, cans, food waste and glass, but we could put out batteries, engine oil, old shoes, old clothes etc. It all gets picked up and semi-sorted by hand at the kerb.


Glass is heavy and recycling doesn’t save very much energy compared to using raw materials. If it has to be shipped very far or if you rinse it off warm water before putting it in the recycling bin, it’s probably doing more damage to the environment then just making new glass would.


between 20 and 25 % less energy. I think it’s worth it, but you can define “very much” differently ; )


I have enough trash to take out after two to three weeks, and that is a standard tall kitchen bag, not the 75 pounds of trash that this story would have me believe.

The headline says “Could you make zero trash for thirty days?” I can go thirty days without buying a car,* computer, TV**, etc, or doing major home renovations, although those could theoretically cause increases in my average daily trash output over time.

*I’ve always been able to resell or trade in my cars. I’ve never had one that was completely junked after I got through with it.
**I haven’t owned an actual physical TV in twenty years.

Betteridge’s law be damned. I can take them up on this. Toiletries last me more than a month. I use a lot of rice, beans, and flour in cooking, and can buy these in bulk. 20 pounds of meat will last me over a month, and I have the freezer space. I can buy Costco-sized cans of canned fruits and veggies, and/or bring my own packaging for supermarket produce instead of using the disposable packaging. Dairy is a bit of a problem, because this is practically always in disposable packaging, but I don’t eat much dairy and (you guessed it) can always buy in bulk.

The only problem is if they count human waste in this, and toilet paper. Giving up toilet paper will be weird, but toilet paper is a relatively recent invention. I think I draw the line at composting my own feces though.

Pretty much this.


That looks all recyclable to me.

Actually, it also looks kinda like Darth Vader to me.


Several thousands of years, really. You can tell by the big trash piles outside ancient city walls, all filled with pottery: the plastic of the ancient world.


The only plastic not picked up in <a href=“"target=”_blank">my area is #3. I assume it’s because we don’t have any potential buyers within an ecologically worthwhile distance.

What I’d like to know is why I have to take #4 bags back to a store instead of tossing them into my curbside bin?


The excuse that my area gives is that the recycling is all machine-sorted, and the thin plastic of #4 bags can easily get caught in the machine and gum up the works.

Many of my neighbors are trying to make ends meet by filling their houses to the rafters with family or tenants. Their driveways have 5 or 6 or more cars, while ours has only one. But it’s especially noticeable on trash night… they have two or three cans, overflowing, while ours is never in that situation. It’s a pain, because the crows know, and end up making a total mess.

Another interesting feature is that most of my neighbors don’t seem to bother with their recycling bins.

Those are for kitty litter, or were as no more plastic shopping bags here. As I mentioned above it has to go into the bin for me and a big bag for all the small daily bags.


The bags that make it home without holes in the bottom get used for kitteh litter, but the ratio is about 5:1, so there are a lot of useless bags that need to go back to the store. I get the ratio a smidge closer to 4:1 by using the slightly damaged ones for lining small trash bins.

What are you putting the litter in these days?


In the garbage as county and city regulations say no flushing even if you have flushable litter. Not so bad in the summer where the back yard is the litter box most of the time but right now definitely a heavy bag of clay every week.
I have tried other litter but at least one kitty never likes it and states it by using the floor right next to the box.


True about the cardboard, but I can’t find anyone around here who takes the polystyrene vacuum-formed shells (:rage:) that certain manufacturers and retailers love.

I have visions of someone breaking down around day five screaming “I need more cars!!!” and buying a dozen new ones.

Our last car was scrapped but that was part of a program to remove older inefficient cars from the road.


The local depot finally started taking it. Before that the option was to drive it an hour away and it had to be in pristine condition. A few stores would take the polystyrene from the stuff they sold. My guess is that in order for it to be economically viable it needs to not be contaminated and that kind of rules out the usual curb side pickups.

Can you make zero trash for 30 days?

Not if I’m trying to become a minimalist in 30 days at the same time.


“I didn’t produce any trash for 30 days.”
“I created a Buzzfeed article.”



Metal, glass, plastic, and sometimes cardboard go in the recycle bin. In the winter, cardboard and paper go in the fireplace. Bad food gets thrown away, but could be tossed in the woods out back instead. Pretty much the only trash I make is flimsy wrappers (like candy bars) and contaminated paper items (paper towels used to wipe something up, or used kleenexes). I could do a month with zero trash easy…by myself.

But somehow, whenever I take the trash out and put a fresh clean bag in the can, in the time it takes me to throw away one candy bar wrapper and a paper towel, my family has magically already filled the trash can to overflowing again. I don’t know how they do it. It almost seems to violate the fundamental laws of physics.

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