Mason Jar Trash Can

The mason jar of trash (typically the trash produced in 1-2 years time) has become the unofficial icon of the zero waste movement.

I have heard some critique over it, including the jibe that it’s just a cry for attention. Firstly, if the attention is paid to the cause (any cause) and not the individual, then it is a good thing. It’s educational.

But, I still was a bit hesitant to adopt the jar none-the-less. For this challenge, I have started one. I hope to get through the challenge with just one jar! (So far, it isn’t looking good. 😦 ).

The Rules for Keeping This Jar:

– just the waste I produce or contribute to (not my family’s waste, we’ll get there)

– I will try to keep extending the time it takes to fill the jar


…and about 24 hours later…


Now, it’s still mostly air, but it puts some things in perspective.

What’s in there and what I learned:

1 – organic sweet potato packaging : I’ve already started to buy package-free produce, this is waste from the past that I finished today. I hate how organic produce is almost always wrapped in plastic where I live!

2 – brown rice bag : I am still trying to figure out where I can go to buy from bulk, but this is a great candidate.

3 – teechino bag top : trying to quit coffee for personal reasons so, hopefully, this waste isn’t reoccurring.

4 – produce stickers from bananas and avocado : fruits I won’t be getting from my garden or farmers market so this may end up being a necessary evil.

5 – dental floss : I get Eco-Dent dental floss which cuts down a bit on waste (not a lot, unfortunately) and is vegan but is made from non-compostable nylon.

So, in 24 hours, the jar has helped to highlight some changes I need to look into (buying rice from bulk and searching for the perfect dental floss). I would say that it is useful and I hope it takes me a lot of time to fill.

How About You? 

Do you jar your trash? Are there other benefits to the jar that I missed? And has anyone found a vegan dental floss that is low waste? Let me know in the comments below!

A Year Later…

The jar I described above was filled before the end of the challenge. Honestly, I didn’t know how little I knew and I was a tad optimistic by introducing the jar so early.

The kitchen and office are areas that produce the bulk of the downstairs waste. I really need to tackle these areas before I can begin to think about introducing the mason jar. A lot of our habits need to be overhauled.

I now feel as though I can introduce the mason jar trash can to the upstairs bathroom. This is one area in my life that I’ve really revamped and I’m quickly getting to a point where the waste is limited. The waste I do produce will come in small quantities so finding alternatives will be a lot less overwhelming. Today, I’ll be starting one for this area of the house (all the upstairs and the bathroom).

The Rules:

  • all recyclable items will go instead to the recycling bin I have in the bathroom (this includes plastic that we can recycle in my area)
  • all compostable items will go in the compost bin I have in the bathroom (toilet paper tissue can go in the compost or in the toilet)
  • all non-recyclable and non-compostable trash, no matter who produces it, will go in the jar with one exception.
  • exception: we will use up our current stash of disposable diapers and then remove the waste basket from the bathroom. This means I will have to buy 3 pocket diapers for my eldest for night time (he is otherwise potty trained). We will thereafter continue with cloth diapering.

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

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