Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Putting My Trash Out There

Not only do we have a water bill for the first time ever in my life at the new place, we have to pay for trash pick up as well.  My thrifty solution: Don't do it!  Between composting and the free curbside recycling, we really shouldn't have too much trash.  Even though to pay by the bag is only $1.75 and I don't anticipate having more than a bag or two a month, I'd rather not pay it if I don't have to. 

The trash center in the kitchen, near the back door.  All trash is sorted here.
That's right: a family of 5 or 6 (depending on if my oldest son is here or at his dad's) produces less than a bag or two a month!  Even at our old place, where recycling wasn't available and I had to limit my composting due to concerns of being "discovered", I only had one trash can at the curb most weeks.  Here, I don't even have a regular covered trash can in the kitchen, where most refuse happens.  Instead, I have three small trash containers: one for recyclables, one for compost (so we don't have to run outside for every little thing), and one for actual trash.  There are many things that could either go in the recycling or composting bins, but, given the choice, and the mass quantity of compost I'm going to want for next year's garden, I'm opting for composting whenever possible.  Right now, the trash has been filling pretty quickly, but it is mostly packing tape, so I don't think that is indicative of too much.  The compost can fills up the quickest though. 

What goes in what, you might ask?  The short answer is that anything that once came from a living thing, other than meat (don't want to attract critters!), can be composted; a lot of plastic, metal, and glass can be recycled; and anything else is trash....which isn't much else!

veggie and fruit scraps
small quantities of dairy (including moldy cheese, melted ice cream, and more)
paper towel & paper napkins
paper plates
cardboard/boxboard, including toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, and pizza boxes
pizza crusts, stales cereal, stale bread, etc
q-tips with paper sticks
used facial tissues (I actually prefer to flush these when I go potty though)
hair from hairbrushes
nail clippings
urine (okay, we haven't done this yet, but I'm thinking about leaving a bucket upstairs for the kids)
dryer lint
cotton clothing in beyond useable condition
pencil shavings
junk mail (minute plastic windows)
sticky notes
latex balloons

Recycling (note: more can be recycled at certain places, but this is what we can recycle here)
glass (all colors)
tin/steel cans
household scrap metal
aluminum (cleaned of food)
plastic: #1, #2, #4, #5, #6, #7
bulky rigid plastic (look for HDPE symbol)
cartons, including milk cartons, juice cartons, juice boxes, etc

pretty much anything not listed above


  1. Nice setup. That's great that they recycle so much in the city!

    If you want to do the urine thing (which I HIGHLY recommend), see if you can get your hands on some biochar/charcoal chunks from a woodstove. Pee activates the biochar, making it awesome as a garden amendment, but even better, it totally absorbs the smell of pee!

    1. I definitely will check around with people I know with woodstoves to see if I can score some. Thanks!

  2. Interesting. I've never heard of having a choice for garbage removal. If I paid by the bag I would definitely start a compost heap. The only reason I haven't is because of the massive amounts of ant hills in our property. Do ants ever bother your compost pile?

    1. I never have had problems with ants in the compost, no. I suspect that the heat generated by the compost would deter them at least some though.

      Trash isn't automatically by the bag pricing. You can also rent a bin, but those are $40 for three months, which would be a lot higher than the less than $5 we'd most likely be spending a month if we do it by the bag, especially since I can just take the little trash I have place else to dispose of for free!

  3. Can you have a burn barrel or one of those 'fire pits' in your back yard? I use a barrel to eliminate any paper/cardboard stuff in the warmer months, my woodstove in the winter. If you get the fire hot enough you could burn bones and meat products to keep them from your trash. Although I am only 1 person to your family of people, I only have about a half a bag of trash per month after burning and recycling. Your paper goods should be shredded before going into the compost bin, so they break down faster.