A peek in our bin

Two of the most helpful steps I took when I started on the pathway to zero waste back in March, 2015 were:

  1. Making a list of every consumable we purchase (and then slowly working through that list in a bid to find zero waste alternatives).

  1. detective-magnifying-glassTaking a peek in my bin to see what our biggest waste items were (which, at the time, were tetra paks of soy milk and vege stock).

Pre zero waste, our household produced one 50 litre bag of trash every three or so weeks.  We’ve managed to shrink that down to around one 50 litre bag every five to six months – a fairly hefty drop in rubbish (fist pump!).  And the great thing is, despite the requirement for a large change in mindset, it hasn’t been all that difficult.

But, I figure, if I want to continue making progress reducing our household waste, I should probably take another peek in our bin.

November’s waste – headed for landfill

So, what exactly are we looking at here?

This is the landfill waste my family (my husband, our 3 yr old daughter and myself) created last month (November, 2016).

We have…

  1. a bicycle repair kit
  2. nylon bristles from a dish brush (when I’m washing jar lids, the brush sometimes gets caught on the inside of them and then I have to wrench it out – drives me nuts.)
  3. fruit stickers – predominantly All Good Bananas (why must we choose between fairtrade and zero waste?)
  4. the broken end of my daughter’s scooter handle – rubber
  5. plastic fragments from the bottom of my disintegrating slippers (previously my mum’s slippers, rescued from the bin)
  6. nylon from a rope
  7. a broken twisty tie (removed from a potplant)
  8. a plastic media pass (from my husband’s work)
  9. empty antihistamine tablet packaging (for my husband’s hayfever)
  10. stickers (given to my daughter at her dance classes and by her friend)
  11. dental floss (purchased pre Zero Waste)
  12. a small foam sticker (from the bottom of a potplant)
  13. a balloon (given to my daughter)
  14. masking tape (from purchasing wooden stamps on TradeMe)

…and a couple of items pictured that, in hindsight, probably don’t have to go to landfill:

  • acrylic wool covered in glue (from my daughter’s crafting) – I’m going to try washing the glue off the acrylic wool and then reuse the wool
  • plastic wrap from a balsamic vinegar bottle lid – I forgot that this is actually recyclable through our city’s soft plastic recycling scheme

Now, aside from disowning my husband and daughter (who created the lion’s share of this rubbish), what am I going to do to avoid this type of waste in the future?

Three ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’revolution-fist-2
Actions for this Month!

  • contact the folks at the Vodafone NZ Music Awards to see whether they’d consider using a biodegradable material for next year’s media passes
  • give Savana’s dance teacher a set of wooden stamps and stamp pad as a Christmas gift with the hope she will replace stickers with stamps – DONE (I’ll give you an update when classes resume next year as to whether this was successful!)

And here’s a peek inside last month’s general recycling bin…

general recycling for November
  1. two plastic yoghurt containers
  2. a balsamic vinegar bottle – glass
  3. five beer bottles – glass
  4. three cannellini beans tins
  5. a treacle tin (purchased pre Zero Waste)
  6. a vitamin C jar – glass
  7. three beer bottle caps

Two ‘Zero Waste to Recycling’revolution-fist-2
Actions for this Month!

  • try making my own soy yoghurt
  • have another go at soaking/cooking beans
    (I haven’t had much success with this in the past)

What about soft plastic recycling and paper?

Well, we’ve pretty much eliminated all our soft plastics.  The only bumps in the road are cheese packaging and the small plastic wrappers that cover some jar/bottle lids.

Unlike plastic, paper is a biodegradable material that the earth can absorb so it hasn’t been high on the zero waste priority list, thus far.  Let’s just say paper recycling in our house is a mountain I’m yet to traverse, despite the mostly-effective “No Junk Mail” sign on our letterbox.



Occasionally, I do have to remind myself, “it’s a journey” and to just keep chipping away at it, a little at a time.

What about you?  What are you sending off to landfill?
Go take a peek in your bin…and share your rubbish shame!  :).

(New to zero waste?  Feel free to check out the room-by-room guide I put together.)


8 thoughts on “A peek in our bin

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I found it really fascinating (what that says about me as a person I dread to think!!) But I’m extremely curious about reducing our waste and I’m at the ‘read all the blogs’ point in my journey. I’ll definitely be reading more of your posts, it sounds like you have put loads of work in! Amy x


    1. I’m glad you find it interesting, Amy :). I think when you look at what people throw away, you get an insight into their lives. It’s probably the same reason I like taking a peek at what folks put in their shopping trolleys. People are fascinating! It might look I’ve put a lot of work in, but I’ve been doing this for nearly two years and it’s been a pretty gradual process. A lot of it’s auto-pilot these days and requires little effort. There are lots of great blogs out there on this topic – happy reading and enjoy your zero waste journey…it’s a very interesting, creative endeavour! 🙂


  2. Aiming for zero waste is definitely a journey, and while we have dramatically reduced what we send to landfill, I am still reliant on having an option in Redcycle for recycling soft plastics. So this is the area I will be working on in 2017. 😊


    1. Thanks Liz 🙂 . We’ve been doing this for nearly two years, one step at a time. And yes, kids do make this process challenging…through no fault of their own. People just seem to really like giving them junk (why is that?!) and it’s pretty tricky for the little munchkins to resist those fun balloons and stickers! But, even with miniature waste magnets in our households, it’s still possible to create very little rubbish. Keep up the great work…and enjoy the journey 🙂 .


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