Hauling My Own Trash: Month One.

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Some of you may remember that a month ago I canceled trash pickup at my house. This was for several reasons, two of which are the price of pickup and the lack of maintenance/pollution from the Waste Management trucks. When we did have trash pickup, we were disposing of between 2-3 bags of trash a month, and paying $27 a month for them to pick them up. What a waste of money. So, I decided that I would start hauling my own trash at the grand expense of $.35 for every 20 pounds of trash. I probably will never hit that 20 pound mark per month unless I start a major remodel, so I think it is safe to say my monthly trash bill will never go over $.35.

That being said, staying under 20 pounds is not really my goal of doing this from now on. In the spirit of Beth at Fake Plastic Fish, and her desire to track the amount of plastic that enters her life, I want to see exactly how much trash I generate that ends up in a landfill. Here in town, we can recycle glass, aluminum, cardboard, tin, and paper. We cannot recycle plastic and non-corrugated cardboard (like cereal boxes, etc.). I do recycle everything I can, except for non-corrugated cardboard, which gets stored in the garage for future use as…something. And I compost all food scraps. So, with all that being said, how did I for my first month of keeping track of how much trash I generated?

2 bags of garbage and 1 cat-box liner of “used” kitty litter.

Ever since I built an outdoor litter box for our 15 year old cat, he rarely uses the indoor one. That helped to cut down on the amount of cat litter/liners that were thrown away. (And for the record, with this cat, we cannot go without the liner. I know some cats can.) And the garbage was two regular size recycled plastic bags full. Total weight of the trash for the month was 9 pounds.

The average amount of trash thrown away by each person each year is 1,200 pounds. That’s quite a bit of trash per person! I am sure there will be months where there is more trash to go to the landfill, depending on the month and if there are any projects going on around the house. But for this month, it was 2 bags of trash and 1 litter box liner w/litter. I hope to get that down to 1.5 bags next month, and with the turn of the weather I hope our normally indoor cat spends more time outdoors in his custom-made litter box!

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Comments

  1. Bravo, a worthwhile project! Awareness is the first step toward change. I shudder to think of what I have “thrown out” especially while raising 4 kids. I shudder to think where it all is now. How did plastic become the main material?
    Reuse – the key, then you don’t have to recycle!

  2. Can we see pictures of the custom litter box?

    And Cheryl, I guess the reason plastic became the main material is that people discovered lots of different types of it that could be made from petrochemicals, and they were all really useful and inexpensive to make. It was a wonderful idea at the time, or it seemed like one. One of the first synthetic materials ever was nylon, and nylon stockings brought high fashion to the masses, while previously only the rich could afford silk stockings.

    But, of course, it didn’t quite work out that way in the end, as we see now.

  3. Chase – I will take a picture, but in reality, it’s a hole in the ground, surrounded by rock walls, filled with play sand. 🙂 He loves it, and actually doesn’t even like using his inside box anymore.

  4. It’s fantastic that it’s only two bags per month! I’m still at 4, which is still a minor feat for a family of 5 (two dogs, two cats, 10 chickens, and a rooster). Plus, almost every weekend, there are extra people around.
    Where I live, in rural VA, we have to lug our own trash AND recycling. Makes you much more aware of your consumption! We also compost. No matter where I’ve lived or whether I’d use the finished product, I’ve composted.
    I need to work on getting my trash bags down, too!

  5. Funny – I came here from my reader it seems for the exact same reason as everyone else – taht outdoor litter box intrgued me – my cats use an outdoor box – at the moment it’s call ed my garden adn I would love for them to be using a specific spot that doesn’t involve my garden per se. A hole surrounded by rocks and filled with play sand sounds perfect and inexpensive!
    Cheers!

  6. It was a total cost of about $20 for the playsand, and he heads right for it every day. No more “going wherever” – he knows where to go. I still scoop the poop out and toss it, but the urine sinks into the sand and/or gets baked off by the sun.

  7. I’ve been wanting to challenge my husband and I to cut our trash by at least 50 percent.
    We have way too much trash.
    I find that when I am eating high raw, our trash output is really decreased.
    We need to get going on this sooner rather than later.
    BTW- The outdoor litter box idea is genius!

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