Cartoon of empty glass jar with flowers surroundingIn the online sustainability community, the trash mason-jar has become iconic: a symbol for how little unrecyclable trash a zero-waste lifestyle creates, and how much change is possible through an individual’s actions.

While a truly zero-waste lifestyle is only a dream for most of us, using a mason jar to collect all non-recyclable trash for a shorter period of time is a fantastic way to learn what waste we’re producing daily, different diversions from landfill, and maybe how to recycle those tricky items left in the bottom of the jar.

Therefore, the Sustainability Office presents: 7 Days of Trash Challenge!

The Challenge: Capture all non-recyclable and non-compostable waste you generate into a standard mason jar for a whole week. This will mean figuring out how to divert waste streams from landfill, even some items you haven’t thought about!

How do you get this challenge started: We suggest doing a DIY Waste Audit in whatever capacity you can. This will show you what waste streams you usually create, so you can start brainstorming how to divert them from landfill.

For instance, if you generate a lot of food scraps, and you’d normally just put them into the rubbish bin, brainstorm where else it could go: dropped off at the local community garden compost heap, at UQ’s organics collection points, to a green-thumbed neighbour, or even start your own compost pile in your garden.

Pro tip: Food scraps can be frozen, so you have more time to drop them off somewhere for composting!

The real challenge: Figuring out what to do with those hard-to-recycle items that may be left at the bottom of your mason jar. Check out these website links to see if any cater towards specific waste:

*Note:: Put your health and safety first when dealing with any hazardous, chemical, and medical waste. Follow all instructions provided by the waste stream collectors and do not send any items not accepted by the collectors.

Have your heard of our Recycling Station on St. Lucia campus? Located in the Kingham Room, this station offers drop-of outlets for harder-to-recycle items. Check out the details here.

At the end of the week, take a picture of your mason jar and contents, and send it to the Sustainability Office! Bonus points if you take the items out of your mason jar, categorise them, and tell us where all your other waste streams went.

The prize: Everyone who completes the challenge will receive a certificate of participation. The winners, those who have the least trash in their mason jar and have found the most landfill diversions at the end of the week, will receive a Biome gift voucher!

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