If your trash bill is billed separately from your water and sewer bills, you have the opportunity to completely eliminate a line item from your monthly budget. If you are creative, you can get by with a tiny bag of actual trash each week that you can easily dispose of without needing a big truck to come by. I save $20 a month by not having a trash bill. That adds up to $240 saved each year, and as a plus, I get to feel good about living a more eco-friendly existence.
The keys to downsizing your trash:
- You have to start composting, or at least mulching
- You need to recycle everything you can
- You can donate usable goods to thrift stores and charities
- You have to think before you buy
- It helps to have a shredder, and/or a fireplace/wood burning stove
Firstly, if you compost (or sheet mulch) all your kitchen, houseplant, yard wastes and coffee grounds, you are saving valuable soil nutrients from mummifying in a landfill. If you have a compost bin or pile, you can get free rich fertilizer for your yard or houseplants on an ongoing basis. Even apartment dwellers can compost - worm bins take up very little space, are clean and scent-free, and are fun and educational to use.
You can recycle almost everything that enters your house: all metals, glass, paper, cardboard, paperboard, batteries, and much of your plastic. Most towns have a bulk recycling area you can drop off your recycling at for free. In my town, all plastics are accepted - from numbers one through seven. Some towns only accept plastics one and two. If this is your case, try to buy packaging that comes in those types of plastics. For metals, you can save up everything and even sell them for scrap! I am able to take home $50 in cash each time I make a run to my local recyclers with a few bins full of saved metal.
Don't forget to set up a donation bin in your home, so useful things can be collected and easily dropped off at charity pickup points.
If you are out buying things, think about how much waste you are creating at the source. If you buy bulk items, or make sure containers are recyclable, you will have far less waste to deal with.
Although I can recycle my paper waste, I usually choose to shred the white paper and add said shreds to my compost bin. They readily decompose. Alternatively, you can roll up your paper into burnable 'logs' or use paper scraps for fire kindling.
I try to make a game out of how little garbage I actually create each week. The less I waste, the better I feel. With my small bag of actual waste, I simply plop the small bag (the size of half of a plastic Wal-Mart shopping bag)into the garbage at a gas station when I fill up my car. Another option is to ask your neighbor if you can place your tiny bag in their garbage can each week (maybe barter or trade favors with them in some other way - ie: run their recycling out for them). I
If you think creatively, there are plenty of ways to create less trash. You can feel good about diverting things from the landfills, and save a bunch of money each year too.