What Does Your Trash (or Recycling) Say About You?

What Does Your Trash (or Recycling) Say About You?

Taryn Williford
Feb 23, 2016

Back in journalism school, my reporting professor gave our class an assignment to pair up, trade wallets and write a story based on whatever leads we find. The idea was that you could learn quite a lot about somebody by the contents of their wallet (my partner had a receipt for $90 worth of cat food–turns out he ran a pet rescue). I think the same is true for our trash, to be honest.

If you were to look through the garbage and recycling bags my husband and I put out each week for collection, you would learn quite a bit about the lives we lead. Lots of takeout containers. About a box of wine each week (I'll blame it on entertaining company, but I think we all know the truth). Dig a little deeper and you might find that we're into tech gadgets and buy almost everything online (there are always lots of boxes in recycling). You could also guess that we don't have kids, based on the fact that we can never finish a half-gallon of milk before it expires.

The point is this: A person's trash can teach you a lot about their life. It's almost a form of cultural anthropology. It can all be summed up in this Gilmore Girls exchange:

RORY: You know I bet you can tell a lot about people from their garbage.
RORY: Think about it, trash is discarded aspect of people’s lives.
RORY: It talks about their eating habits, what they read, do they go to concerts, are they responsible, do they pay bills on time?
LORELAI: Yeah, you do know honey, that garbage doesn’t actually talk at all unless it’s on Sesame Street.
RORY: I’m just trying to make a point.
LORELAI: That going through people’s garbage is interesting.
RORY: And educational.
LORELAI: And stinky and a little nuts.
RORY: There’s nothing nuts about wanting to know more about human nature. Curiosity is how we grow.

So lets take this time to (cleanly) spill the bag–er, beans.

What does your trash say about you?

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