The Ultimate Goal: Remove the Trash Can

The Ultimate Goal: Remove the Trash Can

The ultimate goal in a No Waste Kitchen is to remove the trash can. There are ways to do this and baby steps you can take for an easy transition.

Once you have done a trash audit, determined your highest source of waste in the kitchen, and started to implement changes, the waste produced should start to decrease. The ultimate goal for a No Waste Kitchen is to decrease the waste enough to remove the trash can completely.

I know, it seems daunting. I will admit we aren’t quite here just yet, either. But we are getting close. Since we started our No Waste journey, I have noticed that we aren’t taking the trash out very often. Honestly, if we didn’t have the packaging from meat that starts to smell, we could go at least two weeks without emptying the kitchen trash can. And probably a month or two before we fill the outside bins enough to take them to the street.

Originally Published On: April 2, 2019

Last Updated On: September 10, 2020

Why Remove the Trash Can?

By removing the trash can, you are removing all temptation to toss things into it easily. When your trash can is right there, you tend to toss away packaging, food, and other waste without a second thought. It’s convenient and easy.

When the trash can isn’t there, it forces you to rethink a few things. As you find yourself tossing waste out, try asking these questions:

  • Is there another way to use this before I throw it out?
  • Can this be purchased in different packaging that produces less waste?
  • Is this something that is absolutely necessary?
  • What alternatives to this product can I buy?


All of these suggestions come down to one thing: awareness. Be aware of how much waste your kitchen is creating. Be aware of alternatives. Just knowing what type of waste you create is a big step. “And knowing is half the battle” or something like that.

4 trash cans lined up on the side of a cobbled street

Baby Steps

Ok, maybe you aren’t ready to completely remove the trash can from your kitchen. I get it. I really do. So, take baby steps.

  1. Do a Trash Audit to know what you are throwing away
  2. Take one month to actively try to reduce your waste
  3. Get a trash can lid (can even be repurposed cardboard) to make you think about opening it
  4. Move the trash can to an inconvenient location (out of the kitchen) so you have to walk the waste somewhere else
  5. Eventually, when you are ready, remove the trash can completely

Trash Can Alternatives

So, you remove the trash can, but what do you do with any waste? Of course, this will depend on the type of waste, but there are a lot of options.


Find a way to reuse and repurpose packaging and other waste. For example, my boys love doing crafts, and will use clean recyclables for their “projects” that they make. There are many ways to reuse things like twist-ties, glass jars, and other items throughout the house.

Related: Use veggie scraps to make homemade vegetable broth

Pile of multi-colored twist-ties on a white surface


I know recycling isn’t the “end all, be all” answer, but it’s still better than throwing things in the trash that can be recycled. Just make sure you are reading your recycling labels and know the proper way to recycle. Otherwise, it isn’t much better than sending it to a landfill.


One of my favorite things that we’ve started is a compost bin. I purchased some from Amazon (link below) and love having it in the backyard. We have three bins right now. The first is done and breaking down, the second is the one we are currently filling, and the other is just waiting to be used.

So much of kitchen waste can be composted, then used as a very nutrient-rich soil for plants and gardening. Or, if you don’t have a garden, the compost breaks down to soil that can be spread in your yard. For those in an apartment, check online because there are always people willing to take and/or buy compost for their own use.

Here’s a helpful link to search if something can go in the compost bin or not:

Small Trash Can

After all of these options, if you still have a few things that have to be placed in the trash, try getting a smaller trash can. When you have a large can, it looks like there is so much space to fill that you don’t notice until it gets full. With a small bin, it will fill quickly and make you more aware.

Your Turn

  • Would you consider removing your trash can?
  • Are you aware of how much waste your kitchen produces?
  • Have you thought of alternatives to some of your biggest producers of waste?
  • What else can you do to reduce the waste in your kitchen?

More No Waste Kitchen Ideas

27 thoughts on “The Ultimate Goal: Remove the Trash Can”

  1. I wouldn’t consider removing my trash can but you offer some great tips for reducing household trash. I currently compost and recycle but could do better with eliminating prepackaged items for bulk.

    1. I understand, but glad I could share some tips. Even if you start by changing just one thing, it’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Amanda @ All Day Active Life

    I try to reduce our waste, but we are far from removing the garbage from the kitchen. I’m taking it in baby steps and really working towards “close to zero waste” 🙂

    1. Baby steps are perfect! This is the ultimate goal, and we aren’t quite there yet, though we get closer every month.

  3. I really need to be better at this. I’ve been wanting a compost for so long!!! I also use the cardboard boxes and other safe things for my girls to do crafts. I’d love to take the trash can out, maybe my daughter would be less tempted to throw her food away. Lol

  4. I have been working to reduce our household waste, but I think we have a long way to go before removing our kitchen trash can. I would consider it eventually though as we get a hang of being less wasteful.

    1. Yes, it’s a goal to work towards for sure. It isn’t easy, and takes a lot of changes, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    1. I wasn’t sure at first either, but after talking to my husband about reducing waste and what we should work towards, he has been so supportive!

  5. My husband is from england and we go visit his family at least once per year. I am always blown away at how little waste the English households have. It’s such a huge difference! Everyone composts, uses reusable grocery bags, uses minimal packaging. It’s always such an inspiration for me that our household can eventually achieve that.

    1. I’ve heard that they are so much better in Europe. I know someone who lived in Germany for a couple of years and seeing how they handle recycling and trash makes America look so far behind.

  6. I have been reusing a lot of my “trash” lately to build stuff. For example, I recently combined a few egg cartons to build a little box for my cat. She enjoys sitting there sometimes 🙂 I have never tried to compost as it kinda grosses me out to be honest, but I will definitely give it a thought. Thanks for these tips 🙂

  7. Melanie williams

    When we just sit down and think about things there is so much more we can recycle. Even give to charity before throwing away so at least an item can be re-used xx

  8. This is actually quite drastic! We are doing efforts to reduce our waste, but my trash can is filled with packaging! It is actually very hard to consume whatever without packaging!

  9. I am not sure if I could do away with the trash can completely. These are some great ideas and goals!

  10. Oh man. I won’t lie. WE HAVE TONS OF TRASH TO THROW AWAY every week! Especially now more than ever because we are moving!!! There were some weeks where we would only have 1 or 2 cans on the curb and I would be so proud, but more often than not, all 4 are out there!

  11. Oooh it’s a scary thought. We’ve improved so much through the years and have gotten so much better and aware. But we have a long way to go, especially when it comes to plastic packaging of the stuff we buy.

  12. Thank you for this great article! It’s so inspiring to know that removing the trash can is a realistic goal for any kitchen. I love the idea of composting for apartment living, as it’s a great way to reduce waste and be kind to the environment. I’m looking forward to trying some of your tips and working towards a zero waste kitchen.

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