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.
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.
- Do a Trash Audit to know what you are throwing away
- Take one month to actively try to reduce your waste
- Get a trash can lid (can even be repurposed cardboard) to make you think about opening it
- Move the trash can to an inconvenient location (out of the kitchen) so you have to walk the waste somewhere else
- 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.
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: https://www.compostthis.co.uk/
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.
- 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?