Today is the last day of my trash-free year experiment.  Here are some final totals…

Compost

A year's worth of completed compost

A year's worth of completed compost

In one year, as a result of throwing all my food waste (including uneaten food from work and meals at restaurants), and unrecyclable paper waste that I purchased (such as paper board boxes and egg cartons), I needed two garbage can compost containers.  I started with one, but when that filled up, I left it to “cook” and started a new bin.  After 366 days, I made enough compost to fill six medium-sized dog food bags and one styrofoam cooler,…

One full trash can of compost to cook

One full trash can of compost to cook

…filled a another trash can full of compost that is presently “cooking,” and started a new compost pile in my original can.  One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is that composting is extremely easy!  If you have a little patience and trust that the materials will break down, in four to six months you will have beautiful plant food.

Cost

Reciepts for the year

Food receipts for the year

I kept my receipts this year to see if I saved or spent more money on food as a result of trying to live a trash-free year.  The plan was to save every receipt, but I may have missed a few.  According to what I did save, this year I spent a total of $3,695 on food.  This averages out to around $70 per week.  Prior to this year, I spent between $40 and $100 per week on food, so it doesn’t seem like it cost any more to be a trash-free eater.

Trash

A year's worth of trash

A year's worth of trash

After one year, I ended up with a one-gallon Ziplock bag full of items that I could not put in my compost bin or recycle.

A year's worth of trash

A year's worth of trash

This bag weighs…

Grand total

Grand total

…around 3/4 lbs.

Trash Break Down

Trash breakdown for 2011

Trash breakdown

Medical and dental waste made up the bulk of my trash this year – primarily packaging for disposable contacts, birth control pills, and medicine.  Miscellaneous plastic came in second with food and drink trash not far behind.  The plan is still to turn this trash pile into a mosaic.  I will hopefully have something to share within the first few weeks of the new year.

Floss that lasted me 51 weeks

Floss that lasted me 51 weeks

I still have the dental floss roll.  I don’t consider it trash, because I am saving it to use as emergency string or for art projects.  The most amazing thing about the floss I bought, is that one package lasted me 51 weeks – almost an entire year!  And I am a regular flosser!  Even if people are not interested in being trash-free – this floss is worth purchasing because it is a huge bargain considering how much is in one package.

Next steps
People keep asking me, “So, what are you doing to do when the year is over?”  I learned this year that living a trash-free lifestyle, or as close to it as possible, is about being mindful of consumer choices and their resulting impacts on the earth.  I also learned that it isn’t really that difficult to be mindful, once you get some routines and habits changed.  I can’t see myself taking steps backwards.  If anything, this is just the beginning.  And I have a lot of people out there who have the same vision of a sustainable, trash-free world.  Check out their links because they have done amazing work and have very cool blogs:

Happy New Year! Here’s to many more trash-free years ahead!