7 items for 7 months

Today marks 7 months since I started my trash jar! In the zero waste community, the trash jar is up for debate. Is it worth having? Does it scare people off? What’s the point?


I love my trash jar. I do well with accountability. In all honesty, if it weren’t for the jar, the reality of the lasting impact of disposable products would not feel so strong and I know I’d use more disposable plastic. Try going a week and keep every single piece of plastic trash you consume in front of your face. By the end of that week, you’ll be weighing your immediate desire for that candy bar and the responsibility of keeping that trash.

Without further ado, the largest and most common types of trash in my trash jar:


iPhone charging chords

I've got three in the jar. I continued decluttering even after starting my trash jar, which meant those broken charging chords I was mysteriously holding onto went to the jar. Volume wise, these chords take up a good chunk of space. Unfortunately, they aren’t all made to last. Once the current chords I have break (which I’m sure they one day will), I will be investing in some better quality charging chords.


When my plastic Target sunglasses broke, I was honestly a little happy. I was a few months into the no spend challenge, and it was nice to have a reason to shop. I (miraculously) found a pair I liked secondhand with no scratches. You can’t see the sunglasses through the jar because they’re stuffed in the middle, but they take up a lot of space.

Components of old makeup packaging

This means old concealer tubes, little metal pans, and free brushes that came with old makeup. Again, since I wasn’t finished decluttering when I started the jar, they had to go in. I separated the cardboard components of my makeup packaging and recycled or composted that, and kept the plastic and metal.

A plastic envelope

This is a single piece of trash, but it’s big. I ordered a textbook and put as a special note that I wanted it shipped plastic free, and they send it in a plastic envelope. I was bummed, and here it is, 6 months later, still in my life. Plastic never goes away, people.


Stickers from weighing produce bags

I’ve been told that stickers you print when you weigh produce aren’t recyclable or compostable because of the adhesive, as well as the paper they’re made out of. With the exception of a few that probably fell off and are floating around my car, they’re all here. You can see the prices and what I purchased if you look closely enough at the jar.

General plastic packaging

Everything comes in plastic, as you know. I have the plastic components of the packaging from when I bought my stainless steel straws, plastic tape from other things plastic seals that come around the tops of bottles and medicine, and plastic labels.

Food packaging

Last, but not least, is food packaging. The plastic film from tofu, the plastic film around slices of vegan cheese I tried, the plastic envelope from some fancy hot chocolate I was given, a bag from cough drops, and so on. Among these, the most common piece of trash would be the little plastic windows on boxes of pasta. Since that plastic is (obviously) not compostable, I remove it before doing away with the bag. I don’t eat as much pasta as I used to, but when I do I try to use my pasta maker to make it fresh and plastic free. I’m human though, (and only recently finished graduate school) so there were nights since starting the jar where boxed pasta was served.

What do you think? Do these things surprise you? What kind of trash do you make most?