Real Families. Real Waste. Real Solutions.
What can you reuse, recycle and compost at home? You’d be surprised. See how 8 families tackled waste in their homes, and then put yourself to the test with our quick quiz.

Share>

A FAMILY AFFAIR: PROFILES IN WASTE

8 families. 1 week. When we’re through, waste won’t stand a chance. See their stories.

family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Bonnie and George Cooke of Atlanta, Georgia,
with their children Kyle, 16, and Tristan, 18, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items (and food scraps fed to their chickens) are on the left-hand side of the photo, and items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 61 lb. Fifty-six percent of it (34 lb) was landfill and forty four percent of it was recyclables and food scraps (27 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Jacqueline and Kenneth Griffin Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia,
with their children Kenneth “Tre” Griffin III, 9, and Antonio, 7, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 41.1 lb. Seventy-five percent of it (31 lb) was landfill and twenty five percent of it was recyclables (10.1 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Yuliya Radchenko and Walid Halabi of NYC, New York,
with their children Zacharia, 7, and Khalid, 11, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 21 lb. Fifty-two percent of it (10.9 lb) was landfill and fourty-eight percent of it was recyclables (10.1 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Charlene Wimms and Donell Brant of NYC, New York,
with their children Darius Brant, 9, and Terrard Wimms, 16, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 28.9 lb. Seventy-nine percent of it (22.9 lb) was landfill and twenty-one percent of it was recyclables (6 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Jana and Kelly Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona,
with their children Kayla, 16, and Evan, 14, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in December. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 38.9 lb. Seventy-one percent of it (27.6 lb) was landfill and twenty nine percent was recyclables (11.3 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Esther and Viliulfo Zepeda of Phoenix, Arizona,
with their children Amy, 15, and Jessica, 18, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in December. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 36.3 lb. Eighty percent (28.9 lb) was landfill and twenty percent was recyclables (7.4 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Lisa and Phil Burnham of San Francisco, California,
with their children Tristan, 15, and Elouise, 10, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables, compostables, and landfill trash, in January. Recyclable and compostable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 33 lb. Eleven percent (3.7 lb) was landfill and eighty nine percent was recyclables and compostables (25.3 lb).

Read their story
family photo
Waste in Focus Project, Developed and Independently Produced by Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio.

Monica McCrary and Mike Rao of San Francisco, California,
with their children Jared Rao, 13, and Braeden Rao, 10, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables, compostables, and landfill trash, in January. Recyclable and compostable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 30.4 lb. Seven percent (2.1 lb) was landfill and ninety three percent was recyclables and compostables (28.3 lb).

Read their story
family photo

Photographer, Peter Menzel & Journalist, Faith D’Aluisio reflect:
​After conducting the Waste In Focus study, photographer and journalist team Peter Menzel & Faith D’Aluisio reflect on their experience. “We were most surprised by the amount of prepared food that we found in people’s trash. In some cases it was more than 50% of their total food waste. This is in keeping with national statistics but it was a shock to see it in real life.”

Learn More

    Are you a waste management pro in your home? Take the quiz, get a helpful tip and a little extra credit for a job well done.

    Start the Quiz Brought to you by KAB.

      Check out these frequently asked questions to learn more about waste and how to make less of it in your home.

      Get the FAQs Brought to you by KAB
      Back

      1. What is Compost?

      Composting is the aerobic decomposition of organic matter. Rather than fertilizing soil, compost acts as a soil conditioner that provides valuable organic matter and improved structure.

      Back

      2. What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?

      People often refer to these two terms interchangeably, and while both refer to a product breaking down and returning back to nature, there are key differences.

      1) Compostable means the product will break down within a certain time period (usually within 6 months), whereas there is no timeline for biodegradable products (which can take 100 years!).

      2) Compostable products, when properly managed, turn into humus, a valuable nutrient to the soil, while biodegrable products do not.

      When looking to see if a product is compostable, look for the BPI logo, which tells you that a product is suitable for composting.

      Back

      3. Can you recycle a pizza box?

      Tear off the top half of your pizza box and recycle it! Most programs accept the clean cardboard top. The greasy parts contaminate the recycling process but it can be composted if there is a composting program near you.

      Back

      4. Do I need to rinse my recyclables?

      Although it is sometimes a good idea for preventing odors and pests, you don't need to rinse out your glass bottles, jars or other containers before recycling. So for that glass jar of pickles you just polished off, all you have to do is pour out the remaining juice and place in the recycling bin— both jar and lid.

      Back

      5. Can disposable plates and cups be recycled?

      Disposable plates and cups cannot be recycled in most communities. But, paper plates can be composted. Please check with your community for composting options. And remember, it's always a good idea to close the recycling loop by buying recycled content products.

      Back

      6. Can I recycle frozen dinner packaging?

      You sure can! And, the plastic container can also be recycled as long as it’s clean.

      In Partnership with

      keep america beautiful

      Join us in helping bring people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. Visit us today at kab.org.