The trash on trash

    The trash on trash
The trash on trash

When we lived in the city and had city services, one of the things that was taken care of with no thought at all was the trash. Two times a week, a big closed dump truck came by and took our trash from the curb, all we had to do was have it bagged up and set out by the curb. I remember hearing the trash truck coming and running to make sure the trash was all out there. We didn’t worry about how much trash we had, or how much room it took up as long as we weren’t getting low on trash bags.

The city did provide blue totes for recyclables, hoping the neighborhood would take the trouble to separate out some of their trash, cardboard, glass, and plastic, some of the neighbors did it, some didn’t, honestly it was just easier to put everything in a bag and drop it by the curb.

I also remember, that even then PB tended to condense our trash, he was a human powered trash compactor, crushing plastic and cardboard containers, we rinsed our food containers so it didn’t stink (and attract animals), things like milk jugs and glass bottles were stuffed with cut down plastic and paper trash so they wouldn’t be large empty spaces in the trash bags. We had fewer but heavier trash bags. PB also enjoyed going out and chatting with the trash guy as he helped toss our trash bags into the truck.

Move ahead several years and we are now living on a mountain side in far west Texas. We don’t have “local” trash pickup, not even in town. There is a trash service of sorts, you can rent a small dumpster that is kept in a central location in the neighborhood, many of our neighbors do that. They go in together, several households to a dumpster because of the cost, it’s several hundred dollars per year (over $300 last I heard). Dumpsters are very coveted, you don’t want to be seen putting your trash into someone elses dumpster.

There is a trash dump in town, it’s not a landfill though, the trash is put into large dumpsters and a company comes by and takes the trash away, presumably to a landfill in some other town. There are fees for using this place, a couple of dollars per trash bag, a set fee for a truck or trailer load. We have used this place before and it’s pretty convenient, they even have recycling dumpsters that are free to use, for cardboard, plastic and glass.

Honestly though, we take care of our own trash most of the time. First of all, we generate very little trash, especially as compared to everyone else, I really notice it when we have visitors stay over or when I’m at someone else’s house. Before trash is even generated, I am considerate of what I buy, what kind of packaging it comes in. Paper and cardboard are the best, this can be burned, whether as fire starter in the wood burning stove, or outside in the burn barrel. Plastics get condensed, as well as metal cans. Again everything gets rinsed off so it doesn’t attract animals. Food leftovers that aren’t going to be eaten get composted.

We end up going to the dump about 4-5 times a year, we do have a truck load of trash, neatly condensed, clean and ready to be tossed into the appropriate container, metal into metal, plastic into plastic, glass into glass.

For those of you who live in more rural areas, how do you deal with your trash?

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4 Responses

  1. i still live in the suburban area and trash picks up every week. I was so shocked that people keep on littering everywhere and it made me sick and its an eyesore.

  2. After thousands of years on this planet, it would be nice to see us humans use waste as fuel. We could solve so many problems by harnessing energy from waste and producing fuel. Will the oil boys allow this? I don’t understand why we’re still placing trash into bags and taking them to landfills.

  3. I traveled many years on a sailboat and had much time to consider trash. Now I live off-grid in a place with no trash services and the trash issue is still maturing in my mind. Here is what I have so far:
    Trash comes in about six varieties: non-burnable materials like glass and metal, combustibles like paper and wood, plastics, food waste, and what I call “tough” food waste; and finally “composites”. When we were sailing, the food wastes could be tossed overboard to the fishes. Non-burnable materials could be sunk in deep water (over 200 feet). This left plastics and combustibles. Under US Coast Guard rules, we could reduce biodegradable combustibles like paper and wood to pieces smaller than one inch and dump them in the ocean if more than 12 miles offshore, but plastics just had to be carried until we could go ashore and either find a disposal option or burn them. So we would often keep the combustible materials to help burn the plastics.

    Now, on a farm, the combustibles and plastic burn every week. I am gradually experimenting with ways to recycle some of the plastics: melt them into new forms or partially decompose them for use as fuels. The food wastes go to a bin for black soldier fly larvae who eat almost all of it and turn themselves into duck feed in the process – convenient! But there are a few food-related items that the BSFL cannot eat and thes have to go to a separate slow-composting bin: avocado pits and peels, citrus peels, and the very rare large bones.

    Composites are trash items made of many components, like a broken computer for example. These have to be at least partly disassembled. Plastics can go one place and metals go another. Often the first stage of treating a composite is to burn it. The burnable parts go away, but a lot of metal or glassy remains are in the ashes. These must be collected and handled separately. We have a bin that is gradually filling up with metal scrap and glass. The metal is mixed and of no interest to recyclers so far. The glass is just sharp lumpy sand. We will probably bury these materials eventually.

  4. We handle trash in much the same way. Our situation is that we live in a floating cabin on a fresh water lake. We don’t want any waste to enter the water because it is also our source for drinking water. We take our recycling items of glass, plastic, Styrofoam and metal to town to the recycling depot. We compost all of our garden and vegetable kitchen waste. We don’t compost meats or cooked leftovers so those are sealed in a garbage can that goes to town for disposal on recycling trips. We don’t want to attract land-based critters so that works best for us. We get to town once a week so they don’t get too stinky. We use a compost toilet with the contents used for ornamental plants. We filter our greywater and use it to water my garden pots on the deck. We burn paper and cardboard in the woodstove during the cold months, and save it up for occasional fires during the summer. Like you, we think about waste when we purchase items. What goes up the lake, must either be reused or go back down the lake for disposal. – Margy

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