Dumpster diving

dumpster diving

Welcome to Day 7 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Ok, by now, you should have a pretty good set up for your new lifestyle. Given you have followed the steps in the last 6 days.

Today we are going to dig in your trash a little bit.

Yes, you read correctly. I want you to check out your trash. Now, this exercise is so that you can understand which trash you are creating and work backward. It is a lot easier to fix a problem when you can see the source.

The trouble can sometimes be to convince the rest of the people you live with to join you on this journey. At least that’s what I have found. Even though it seems like we tick a lot of zero waste boxes

  • reusable glass jars
  • tote bags/ produce bags
  • reusable bottles
  • beeswax wraps
  • second-hand clothes shopping for a big part
  • KeepCup
  • stainless steel food container
  • bamboo toothbrush

Regardless, we are still phasing out a toothpaste box that was bought years ago and dental floss in plastic containers. Luckily TerraCycle actually has a program for those. You can collect all your dental products and send them to TerraCycle for free. They will turn it into a new product. It is a great way to make sure that at least some items are getting recycled. Remember, recycling is not really working. Only a minimal number is being recycled.

How do you get everyone to jump on board of the zero waste train?

That’s where dumpster diving comes in. It is not in the traditional way where you wait until the supermarket closes and sneak around the back to the trash bins only to pull out every item packaged and just over the due date.

That’s right, I first heard about this in Australia, Melbourne, and even though the supermarkets have to lock their bins (health concerns and other regulations), people managed to get the keys and dive into the dumpster.

I went on such a mission once and was shocked to see the excellent food that had been thrown out only because the data said so or some imperfections on the fruit.

But back to our trash bin dive at home. First of all, I hope you separate your food waste from your “normal” trash. If not, don’t stress too much now. We will get to composting another day.

Now lay it all out and see which trash you find the most of?

Me in plastic trash

This is shocking. This picture was taken a couple of months ago when I started on the zero waste journey. Back then, it was mainly soft packaging for bread and cereal, and someone kept on buying salad and spinach in hardcore plastic boxes.

How do we reduce that? The odds are against us. If you want to buy cheese, it is wrapped in plastic. If you want to buy anything in a standard supermarket, you are basically screwed. You walk out with an apple in hand, and you probably need to discard the little sticker separately as well. No options here.

But how did we reduce our waste?

Often we are told to believe that we can’t make these shiny supermarket items ourselves. Well, I am guilty of that, until my fiance made a homemade Nutella. And I was like: “come on, is this for real?” Not even did it taste amazing, but it was also kind of healthy.

A big part is to go and shop at the farmers market or your bulk food store.

What if you find a lot of shampoo bottles/ cleaning product bottles in the trash?

Did you know that you don’t actually need a different cleaning product for every corner of your house?

If you have many plastic bottles from shampoo or bath gels, you could either bring the packaging and get it refilled at the bulk store or make your own. Yes, you can. It is total BS that we need twenty different products to clean our house.

You don’t need to have a cupboard full of 20 different products, one for the sink, one for the toilet, one for the window… You get the idea.

When we cleaned our car on Sunday (we don’t do that every Sunday), I used a mix of white vinegar, essential oil, and water. And guess what, the car smelled good and was clean. 🙂

You see there is a thread going through this called DIY.

Not only are you saving money by making your own products, but you are also saving your health since you are not using toxins in your house anymore.

Make sense right?


Go ahead and do your own home dumpster dive. See for yourself what the main source of trash is and get creative. Can you make these products yourself? Can you send some to TerraCycle? Can you make your household members aware of the problem by getting them to join the zero waste lifestyle?

Please share a picture of your trash with the #zerowasteman and tell us what ideas you have come up with or solutions you have found to minimize your trash.

Got more questions? Leave them in the comments below.

Missed a day? Jump back and have a look around. I would love to hear your ideas and ways of becoming a zero waste man.

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