Green living New York Reviews zero waste

The Clean Bin Project: Documentary Film Review

The Clean Bin Project is a 2010 documentary film where partners Jen and Grant from Vancouver, Canada embark on a 1-year challenge to: (1) not buy stuff, (2) not produce garbage and (3) take responsibility for their waste- at home and outside. I came across this documentary film in the article 11 Must-Watch Documentaries for Aspiring Minimalists in 2021. The film shows their journeys as well as interviews to recycling guru Brian Burke, artist Chris Jordan and Captain Charles Moore.

There are tons of documentary films, blogs, articles, podcasts about journeys to consume less and produce less waste. We also share some of our journeys, challenges, failures and successes in HolaTomorrow. I feel, however, no matter how many I watch, read or listen to, I always learn something new from each one of them.

Below is what I learned from this one:

  • Challenges and competitions can have a long-lasting effect on daily habits. They can help change mindsets, values, ways of living, routines. It took days after the 1-year competition ended, before Jen and Grant went and bought something.
  • I can use and bring my reusable containers to buy cheese. I already do it for other products like meat or fish. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I can also do it for cheese.
  • Recycling correctly is important and we can recycle more than what is collected in municipal recycling bins. I may want to consider having multiple bins (as many as 10 as someone in the documentary does) to ensure each recyclable product ends up in the right place where it will be actually recycled. An item in the wrong recycling bin can lead to all items in that bin not being recycled. I still find it extremely difficult to get everything right.
  • Farmers’ markets are the best place to get produce without packaging (and they help be more aware of local food systems).
  • Going to the city/town/village dump (or learning where our waste goes) can be a very educational and fun weekend activity. Indeed, a very important one. We should all know well the waste management systems of where we live. I don’t.
  • I want and need to read the August 1955 Life magazine article “Throwaway living”. It will help me understand better how we got to this era of disposable items.


  • There is a recycling guru living in Vancouver called Brian Burke, of whom I want to learn more. He reminds us that composting is the number #1 thing to do for the environment. He also reminds us that the first question we need to ask ourselves is “Do I really need this?”. You can learn more about Brian here.
  • There is an artist based in Seattle, USA called Chris Jordan, whose art shows mass consumption and waste. His series Running the Numbers shows statistics of mass consumption that are terrifying. As he says, “When we feel something is when we act”. His work Paper Cups, 2008, for example (see below), depicts 410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes. I also want to learn more about Chris.

I encourage you to watch this documentary, if you are looking to be inspired by others. Even if you take one thing home, even if it encourages you to do just one more thing, it will be worth your time. And you will find out who won the competition and why 😊 You can find more information about the documentary film, including where to watch it (I watched it in Vimeo) in their website here.


JUNCAL // New York

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