Day 199: Our One Week Waste Challenge

7-dayIf anything, this past week I learned that cataloging your waste is exausting.  I decided on day 1 that compostables were going to be out of scope.  Writing down each carrot end and banana peel was too much work what with the mass quantities of package-free veggies we consume.

I did, however, succeed in writing down almost all the recycling and garbage that Grant and I generated from Sunday to Sat.  I realized on day 3 that I was neglecting receipts, but I did do my best.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that we only drink beer, eat ice cream, and ski.  It is a bit skewed as we were on vacation. 

Although we were mostly staying with friends and cooking our meals in, we did manage to eat out quite a few times, artificially reducing our end waste significantly.  That said, we’re pretty lazy at home, and do eat out a lot, so maybe it is representative after all.

And in case you are amazed by the single napkin on Sat – so were we – I’ll let you know that we were driving home most of the day, so we only had to prepare 1 of 3 meals.

You now you see how we don’t have much landfill – we recycle a lot.  We also buy lots of fruits and veggies and bulk supplies.  I know it’s not a lot of stuff compared to the average household, but there is still a pretty consistent stream of waste coming out of our kitchen.

I’ll be interested to see how the rest of Sustainable Dave’s One Week Challenge participants made out.


PAPER + (reyclable or compostable)
1 plastic cover from wine
1 cork from wine – compost
1 paper milk bottle top
3 napkins
1 paper bag
2 paper cups for dip
1 ice cream container
1 doily
4 toothpicks
1 chocolate bar wrapper
1 oatmeal packet
1 cardboard box containing medication bottle

GLASS AND METAL (recyclable or refillable)
1 glass alfredo sauce jar
1 glass wine bottle
1 glass milk bottle
1 foil chocolate wrapper
4 aluminum drink cans
1 tin from pizza sauce

1 broken tupperware container

UN-NUMBERED PLASTICS (we found a place that takes them)
6 Ski lift tickets with plastic ties
1 milk lid
2 tab from drink carton spout
1 chocolate bar wrapper (it was inside paper I swear)
Ring from milk lid

DUBIOUS (possibly recyclable)
1 can of beer with a widget in it

1 paper and metal twist tie with plastic tag from spinach
1 piece of gum – can I compost this?



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5 responses to “Day 199: Our One Week Waste Challenge

  1. Wow, it’s incredible isn’t it; to see it all laid out like that.
    To my knowledge gum cannot be composted. I think it lasts forever.
    Some cities around the world have gum bins though and it’s collected and recycled into drainage and construction material!
    Read more about it here:

    Well done on writing all about your waste – that’s fab. We have a zero waste week coming up and I’m planning to do the same. It helps to get a perspective on things.

  2. Sadly, gum cannot be composted… grist explains it better than I can (

  3. inchingalong

    I saw a recent news article on the net (sorry, can’t remember which source) that in Mexico, they were telling people to swallow their gum as part of their litter reduction program. I’ve swallowed a couple of pieces in my life, but I always here a voice in my head (my mother’s) telling me that it never digests. Don’t know the truth on this one. Luckily, I’m not a big gum chewer. (Gramma’s voice in my head saying it isn’t ladylike) What is the appropriate method of gum disposal?

  4. How did you find a place that takes unnumbered plastics? I’m so impressed with how little trash you make!

  5. Jen CleanBin

    It’s sad about the gum – I thought it was candy and didn’t realize until I got it into my mouth.

    The soft plastics (which we still try to avoid) can actually be recycled. I found Happy Stan’s through a google search and Pacific Mobile Depots through a friend.

    Among other things, they take “Clean soft plastics such as trash & retail bags, cereal box inserts, film & sheeting, bread bags, frozen food bags, cellophane wrapping, shrink wrap, stretch wrap. Also included in this category is polyethylene foam which is twistable.”

    There might be a similar service in your area. . .

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