dear trash, thank you

I’ve been practicing showing gratitude toward my trash. I like to think I’m mashing up a bit of the KonMari method with my zero-waste-ness. It’s helping me get a better understanding of what kinds of things we are throwing away and how valuable those things were. Saying thank you to each item makes me question, “was it worth the waste?” Of course the answer to that is up to each person and how much value they find in any given piece of trash. If you’ve ventured into any kinds of thought about working toward a more zero waste home, you should try thanking your trash.

In the KonMari method of tidying up it is a part of the practice to thank each item that you give away. You had that thing for a reason at some point, and it may have served you well in one way or another, so it only seems right to show gratitude for it’s existence. I think that this practice is meaningful because it helps us assign more value to our things. We live in a world of consumerism, and we are surrounded by things – often too many things. If we slow down and give thanks for each of those things, perhaps we will take note of what is actually of value to us.

0076293500442_AIn my home I have made a significant decrease in the amount of trash that we produce over the past year or so. We are a family of two adults (and one big dog) and now fill a tall kitchen trash bag every two weeks. Sometimes we have big projects that create lots of waste (like home renovations or big packaged purchases), but usually it’s just half a bag a week. We recycle a lot (most of our waste is paper, paperboard, and cardboard), and we also compost. When I started trying to reduce our waste a year or so ago, I made an effort to pay more attention to what was going in the garbage can. How could I work on having less of it, if I didn’t even know what it was? That turned out to be really effective. It was hard at first because there was a lot of stuff going in there, but as I focused and researched I found that there were a lot of things we were throwing away that we could replace with reusable alternatives or live without.

While that is still a part of my practice, I feel like our waste production has kind of leveled out. There are few alternative solutions to the things we throw away, and/or I’m just not ready to make the jump to eliminate those things from our lifestyle. So, instead of feeling guilty for having that waste – I am thanking it for it’s service.

thank_you_bubble-resized-600Thanking your trash is easy, you just pause at the trash can while you’re still holding whatever you were about to throw away and thank it for doing whatever it did. For example, I just threw away the bag that our dog food comes in, so I said, “Thank you for keeping Betty’s food fresh.” Easy. And, there’s more than that going on in my head. I’m thinking about that bag and how it is worth the waste for me. I want to buy my dog food in bulk every month or two because it’s convenient and good for my dog. There is nowhere that I know of where I can buy her food in my own container or in something recyclable, so that’s that. I’m happy with the piece of trash and how it served our family and off it goes.

The extra moment of gratitude is helping me develop a better sense of what kinds of waste we are producing. It’s also helping me understand what kinds of things are really worth the waste to me, and which things I need to work harder to eliminate from our lifestyle. What do you think? Would you thank your trash?

  • Oh, I get the guilt about throwing things away! This is a good way of looking at it. I too have found there are certain things that we just cannot avoid throwing out. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rhonda

    You are certainly doing a great job of decreasing waste–one bag every two weeks is amazing!