We are a family of 7.  We have a mini-farm, with 25 animals.  We like to recycle and prevent waste.  And we are trying to cut expenses wherever possible.  So, I am going to let you in on a little known secret.  In case you didn’t already think we had a few head issues, when we were preparing to move out here, S got it in his mind that he thought one expense we could cut out was paying the monthly trash service bill. 

We realized that when trash service, in terms of a truck regularly coming to your house to haul it off, is so readily available and convenient, it is very easy to just toss whatever is in the way, without giving much thought to it.  When we lived in Las Vegas, our neighborhood had twice-a-week trash service.  We had several neighbors with 2-3 people in the family, most of who either worked or were at school all day, and they would fill their trash cans to overflowing BOTH days of the week.  I couldn’t fathom how we could produce that much trash if we tried!  It was eye-opening for me, though to see that the convenience factor is a big deal in our society’s production of waste.  S reasoned (and convinced me) that if we took out the convenience factor,  it might help us cut back even more.  After he did a little research, we found that our local dump charges around $3 per large garbage sack or average sized trash can.  So, if monthly trash service cost $30/month, then if we kept our bags to less than 10 bags each month (that’s about 2/week), we would come out ahead.  Not only could we potentially save money, but since we were paying by the bag, and had to store and haul our own trash, we would be more cautious about what went into the garbage can each day.  We decided to give it a try for about 3 months and see how we were doing. 

5 months later, I must admit, it has been a wonderful learning experience!  S built a recycle bin out on our back deck (out of recycled lumber of course).  As we go through each day, we carefully seperate our food wastes into compost or animal treats, our glass, cardboard, and plastic into the recycle bin, our burnable papers into the burn basket, and true trash into the trash can.  With the size of our family, and the addition of our farm life (which means lots of feed bags), I really wasn’t sure how this would all work out.  What I didn’t realize was how avoiding processed foods helped in this endeavor–by cutting down significantly on packaging waste.  I also started finding other, creative ways to cut down on trash.  A big part of our trash is plastic animal feed sacks and plastic bags I use around the kitchen.  I recently found an organic feed dealer that allows me to bring my own sack to fill, which will cut down on that waste, and a goal of mine now is to improve at washing and re-using my ziploc bags, which will also cut down a lot. 

The photo you see above is the result of  6 weeks of garbage collection.  1 of those bags is construction materials like roofing shingles, and not household waste.  The dump is not convenient for us to go to, so we store up as long as possible–generally about 6-8 weeks.  So the last 6 weeks have resulted in exactly 1 small trash can, 3 large bags, and 1 small bag of garbage.  That’s it.  So, for the last 2 months, rather than the $60 trash bill we would have paid, we will pay about $15.  Our animals and compost pile will receive lots of extra nutrition, and we can rest assured knowing that our recyclables will not be going into the landfills.  

This is a fun and easy challenge that I suspect very few people even consider.  Paying for trash service is viewed the same as paying for electric service.   Here is the thing…it’s a service, and you aren’t REQUIRED to pay for it.  So, I challenge you to be a rebel, cancel your service for 3 months, learn to reycle and re-use, be a better steward of the earth and God’s blessings to you, become more self-sufficient, and just see how you fair.  You might just be amazed!