Five Steps toward Dumping Your Garbage Service
By Debra L. Karplus
How much of your hard-earned income are you spending toward garbage hauling service? Most of our neighbors have trash pick-up twice a week. A more economy-minded family can sign up for minimal garbage service which requires the use of one’s own trash container for once a week pick-up. In our Midwestern town, population 100,000, minimal hauling services cost approximately $ 320 per year, plus miscellaneous surcharges. For that same amount of money, you could purchase things that are much more enjoyable such as a desktop computer, a round trip air ticket to someplace interesting, or bicycles for a family of four.
How did we trash our hauling service? We compost, burn, recycle, reuse, and we reduce what we bring into the house. Admittedly, once a month we may have a small sack containing some plastic bags and grocery packaging. We toss it into the supermarket dumpster, before stocking up on more bulk food items.
1. Compost your organic materials.
Kitchen disposal systems can be installed easily and inexpensively in the sink and are useful for discarding small quantities of kitchen food waste. However, if you have a garden of any size, outdoor composters can be purchased at your local home improvement or garden store or can be bought online for under $ 100. They can be situated in your yard in an aesthetic as well as functional spot. By composting, your soil will become richer each year.
2. Burn your paper and wooden scraps.
I’ll preface by stating that we have a wood burning stove in our living room. For scraps from woodworking and household projects, non-glossy newsprint, or trash from the daily mail, this serves the dual purpose of getting rid of litter while simultaneously keeping us warm in the winter. The ash that we clean out of the stove each morning is added to our compost. And, we have devised a way to organize our paper waste during the summer months until the fall burning season approaches.
Know your city codes for burning! Some municipalities permit open fires, such as bonfires or campfires on private property. Others towns will allow you to burn outdoors in a fire pit or other protected area. In our city, outdoor fires are strictly banned.
3. Recycle all that is recyclable.
A growing number of communities now have drop-off centers for recyclables. Our Recycling Center is open 24/7 and accepts paper, cardboard, glass, and plastic. Additionally, we have a landscape reclamation center which accepts most yard waste. We have places in town that take used motor oil. We are also lucky enough to have regularly scheduled places, at least annually, to bring old electronics devices such as computers and stereo equipment, and also another drive which collects unused household chemicals such as paints and adhesives. Most of our supermarkets and smaller groceries have places to return and recycle plastic bags.
4. Reuse, use again, and use one more time.
Using items in your house as many times as is safely and functionally possible is even better than composting, burning or recycling. Plastic eating utensils and sandwich bags, if properly sanitized, have can have more lives than a cat. If fact, why use those disposable items at all? We never buy facial tissue. A packet of white men’s handkerchiefs will last for many years and can be purchased inexpensively at any discount store. We entertain frequently, yet we never use paper napkins or plastic plates or utensils. Instead, we use our regular dishes, forks, knives, spoons and cloth napkins. After dinner, people offer to help wash the dishes; this adds to the socializing.
5. Say “no, thank you” in order to save the earth and save money, too.
When you start thinking like a non-wasteful person, you will be amazed at how many items are unnecessary to accept. Bring your own cloth sack when you shop for groceries and when asked “paper or plastic”, you can respond with “neither, thank you”.
Contact your employer, your bank, the investment company where you have mutual funds and retirement accounts, your utility companies, credit card companies and other places that regularly send you mail and sign up for as many paperless transactions as possible such as direct deposit, online bill pay and online statements. Banks insist that the paperless systems are at least as safe as those using paper and are quick and easy to manage.
Do everything you can to eliminate glossy advertisements from your daily newspaper and also junk mail. There are a few web sites where you can sign up to remove your name and address from junk mail lists and databases.
You needn’t have earned a PhD in sanitation in order to throw away your trash hauling service. Be calculating and deliberate in what you bring into your house from the start. Reuse what’s left whenever possible. Compost, burn or recycle the rest. In short time your household, too, can be a garbage-free zone.
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