So, it has been three months since I posted our last Trash Stats, and we have learned a lot since 😉. We have now changed what we put into our trash jar. We used to put in what is being collected as "general waste" and "packaging" – both recyclable and non-recyclable – here in Germany. So this has led to a lot of confusion, especially with my non-German readers and international Instagram followers. A lot of people kept pointing out to me that some things in my jar were in fact recyclable, and some people were confused because seeing the things in my jar they thought that what they had previously assumed as being recyclable was not. Furthermore, a lot of the media folks also requested that I take out the recyclable items so our jar was more comparable to Béa Johnson 's or Lauren Singer's jar, even though I kept insisting that this really isn't and shouldn't be a competition, and that just because some things are recyclable in principle (like Tetrapak) they do not actually get recycled for various reasons 🙄!
Anyway, because I am tired of explaining, I decided to make our jar a "non-recyclable only " zone. However, I did leave our vitamin B12 PET bottle in our jar – yes, even though PET bottles are recyclable in principle. When we visited our local waste management plant back in January, the manager did explain that plastics can only be recycled when it's single-variety and of the same color. The moment a sticker gets stuck onto a theoretically recyclable plastic bag, it becomes non-recyclable! Well, and unusual colors do NOT get recycled either because they would ruin the other batches. So I have to first make sure brown PET bottles aren't too unusual of a color 👅.
See-through windows in envelopes
I had once read that the see-through windows in envelopes were made from cellulose fibres and can thus be recycled as paper. Well, turned out while there are envelopes with see-through windows made from cellulose fibres, the majority is still made from plastics. At least here in Germany, you can recycle those envelopes with your other papers, but in the end they will just be separated from the paper in the recycling process and trucked to a plant dealing with plastics, where it will be incinerated.
So in order to at least eliminate the way between the paper recycling and plastic waste plant I went through our entire paper waste of the last 8 months and cut out all the plastic windows and stuffed them into our waste jar.
Receipts are BPA-coated and should NOT be recycled to prevent pollution and BPA contamination. They should be incinerated in a plant with decent filters and not burned at home either.
Again, I went through our 8 months' worth of paper waste to pick out every receipt, and I was surprised that we had collected fewer than I had expected. These, too, found a new home in our jar.
Metal (e.g. bottle caps)
However, we didn't just stuff our waste jar with receipts and plastic windows from envelopes, we also removed some things. So when we toured our local waste management facility (I would highly recommend this to anyone by the way – so interesting and really impressive in a weird way) we learned that at least in Germany, metal will be recycled, even when you dispose of it in the general waste, which usually means it will not be recycled.
The Trash Stats!
Sooo... We collect our waste in a quart jar (1 liter) and I'd say it's about ¾ full – and I am very positive that this jar will last the two of us an entire year, since we are generating less an less waste 💪!
From left to right, top to bottom:
|What kind of waste we generated||Will we be able to avoid it in the future?|
|Receipts||Since we found out how harmful receipts are, we have been changing our routines to avoid receipts.|
|A plastic seal we didn't expect||One of these plastic surprises you just don't see coming 😕.|
|Produce stickers||Almost all of the stickers we have collected in the last 3 months were from the three weeks we spent in the UK.|
|Plastic wrapper from a gift||Well, sometimes refusing presents doesn't work too well 😅...|
|A strip of plastic||My bamboo toothbrush lost a lot of bristles and the producer Hydrophil was kind enough to send me one in a cardboard envelope with a strip of plastic to open the sealed envelope.|
|One of these little packs to keep whatever dry||Hubby got a new laptop at work, but no laptop bag. Buying a slim bag secondhand seems impossible so he went for an unpackaged new bag, however, he found this little pack inside.|
|Broken cup||Well, I AM super clumsy 🙈...|
|Blisters from my antiallergenic meds
|I have so so many allergies, and I had also been suffering from allergic asthma. Luckily, since we went zero waste my allergies have become so much more bearable. However, sometimes I still have to take some antiallergenic meds, and in Germany pills are always sold in blisters 😕! I did manage to cut back and now I only take a pill when I know I will have to be outdoors a lot during a day.|
|Plastic windows from envelopes||We try to keep our home as paperless as possible. So we scan everthing and use the envelopes and letters that were printed only on one side to jot down notes. I do believe we have reached the minimum and have managed to unsubscribe from everything we can unsubscribe from.|
|Single-use plastic wristband||It is from a buffet, and we did try to talk our way out of this one, but well, this time we failed 😝.|
But now the numbers 😉:
- Glass: Four 1 liter bottles (3x oil, 1x soy sauce), one 375 ml/ 12.7 oz bottle of maple syrup, 1 smashedone 2 liter/ 2 quart jar, 3 smashed drinking glasses, 1 smashed 120 ml (½ cup capacity) jar, 1 smashed 500 ml (2 cups capacity) jar
(so this means we added 1 bottle of oil, 1 smashed tiny and a mid-sized jar)
- Paper: 1.657 g (which means we added 388 g/ 0,85 lbs in the last 3 months)
- Metal: 87 g
- Organic waste: We still compost all of our kitchen scraps in our worm bin, and we still have around 1-2 handful every 2 weeks that we cannot add to our worm bin (i.e. banana, citrus, onion, or garlic peels). We are forced to put this waste into our curb-side trash can because our apartment building does not have a compost bin and it is illegal to throw your waste into somebody else’s bin.