Sustainability Journal – Waste production measuring

In the day 6th of January of 2020 it was started the measurement of the trash that we produce at our home to know, in fact, how much we are producing, to challenge ourselves and to invite you to join us in this challenge, if you are not already into it.

This study is taking in account all the plastic, metal, paper and glass we produce mainly from our food but also from other products we buy.
Even knowing the trash is going to be recycled, normally the resulting product of the recycling process doesn’t go to the same purpose as the origin, so it’s not really closing the cycle and also we should take in account that there are rules for recycle the products, not all of them are recyclable like you can see in the following image.

Before starting the measurements, all the people at home was already sensitized with the trash problem and trying to go in the direction of zero waste lifestyle, so we already avoided to buy packages for everything, we do, as much as possible, the products by ourselves, we go to the bulk products shops, we have our own reusable bags for shopping, we avoid to buy plastic products and much more things we shared and we will share in our posts in our website.
From 6th of January of 2020 to 13rd of April of 2020 the data obtained is represented in the next image:

With this time sample and making an average of these materials consumption and calculating for a year, we got the following results.

Our values

Waste materials production (kg/person/year):

Paper = 0,4
Plastic = 2,2
Glass = 7,2
Metal = 0,1
Total = 9,9

EU values (Eurostat, 2017).

Waste materials production (kg/person/year):

Paper = 70
Plastic = 30
Glass = 30
Metal = 10
Total = 140

Comparing these values from an average person in the EU with our sample, we can see a big difference in the values, but of course we are not considering the waste we produce outside of our home (restaurants or other consumptions) and also, to calculate the waste produced by us, when the number of people at home is not regular, it’s pretty hard, however, this data can give an idea from how far we are from the average of waste production in the European Union.


From this types of waste, plastic materials presents as the worst one, being bad for environment in its production and after, if disposed in the nature, it has toxic components that can spread to the water, air and soil and the plastic by itself doesn’t compost so easily creating traps and being eaten by/for living beings, all of this affecting the biodiversity of our world and inevitable us.

To be easier to understand the data, we can remove the glass data from this graph, its values are too high compared with others and its shape depends mainly in the olive oil, vinegar and wine consumption, because the other glass products we consume like beer, they have deposit, so they can return to the shop with money reward and the jars from the products we consume can be used for a lot of things (cup, container, bottle, etc.).

Even we started this study with low values, there are slightly decreasing values for the plastic waste, the paper production are low because we use them for the oven (used for cooking and heating) and the metal waste only depends on the bottle covers of drinks. Although, we can only take better conclusions with a time sample of one year with the same people, because seasonal patterns of consumptions will affect the production of waste, so the decreasing of waste production can be influenced from that.

Remember, recycling should be one of the last options for the life of the products.

By the order it is presented in the image before, you can help the world to be a better place with the following actions.

Refuse: make the choice to not generate waste
Reduce: make decisions that decrease the amount of waste produced
Re-Use/Repair: repair or create new uses for the item
Recycle: reclaim the raw materials
Rethink/Reinvent: consider and question consumption habits


For more Zero Waste recipes and info about our lifestyle, take a look at our Zero Waste Book here.

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