|This family of four fills two wheelie bins every week, and even that is not enough room for all of their trash!|
I have noticed each Friday morning when we and our neighbors put out our wheelie bins for trash pick up that some households generate a lot of trash and some not so much. We have four people living in our home, a heavy week for us will barely fill our wheelie bin to the halfway point. Most weeks we have about four plastic grocery bags of garbage in our can. Compare this to our neighbors, who also have four people living in their home, each week their wheelie bin is so full the lid doesn't close. In fact most of our neighbors are unable to close the lid on their wheelie bin because it is stuffed to the brim. I think it is reasonable to compare our trash bin to our neighbor's trash bins because we all live in a semi-rural neighborhood, the smallest property has two acres, the homes are all comparable in size and the occupant size for each house is between 2 and 6 people, some keep a garden.
Why do most of our neighbors have so much to throw away each week? I don't know!
What do I know? Well, I do know what we do to reduce the amount of trash we need to have hauled away.
1. We recycle, there is a drop off site about three miles from our house, about twice a month I swing by to empty our recycling bin. Plastic milk jugs take up most of the room in our recycling bin, they are bulky even when squashed, if they are simply thrown away they would take up room in the trash bin. Simply choosing to recycle eliminates a lot of items from ending up in the trash bin.
2. We do not purchase convenience foods, we buy basic staples and make all of our food from scratch, this eliminates a lot of packaging and saves money. Our son Ben complains that all we do is by ingredients. If we purchased a lot of convenience foods we would certainly generate a lot of cardboard trash and probably a lot of plastic packaging, some of which could be recycled, and some would end up in the trash bin..
3. We compost. I keep a bucket in the kitchen and anything that can be composted goes into it, when full I empty it back by our vegetable gardens. The bucket fills up with fruit peels, coffee grounds, tea bags (I use round teabags that do not have a string and piece of paper attached), egg shells, and potato peelings. We easily fill a bucket with compost waste each week, it would certainly take up room in the trash bin.
4. We feed scraps to our chickens in addition to providing them layer meal. Any carrot peel, apple cores, tired produce, left over vegetables, heels of bread, leftovers of popcorn and pancakes, all go out to the chickens. The chickens also eat excess and slightly spoiled veggies from our garden. The chickens eat a lot of items that would otherwise be thrown away, they provide eggs for us to eat, and manure for our vegetable garden. Our chickens receive scraps almost daily, all of this would take up room in the trash bin.
5. Paper - we recycle cardboard packaging, but anything with our personal information on it, mainly junk mail, we place into a box in our garage. Once the box is full, it takes a couple of months to fill, we take the contents out back to our burn barrel to burn. We put the ashes from the burn barrel onto our vegetable garden. If we didn't recycle and burn paper it would take up room in the trash bin.
5. We try to reduce the amount of recycling we create, we do buy some canned items, mainly soups. We can a lot of our vegetables that we grow, this is a wonderful way to reduce waste, the jars are reusable and last for years, and if one should break it can be recycled as it is glass.
6. We make our own laundry soap, we purchase a box of washing soda, and a box of borax each year, and five bars of Fels Naptha soap. The laundry soap is easy to make, the waste created is two cardboard boxes each year and the paper from five bars of laundry soap, all of which can be recycled. Not only do we create very little waste with making our own laundry soap, we also save a bundle of money since the ingredients for a years worth of soap is around $14. Making our own laundry soap keeps plastic laundry jugs, probably 15/year out of our recycling and if we didn't recycle it would keep them out of our trash bin.
7. Things we never buy:
Coffee filters because we use a stove top percolater. Elimates paper trash.
Bread because we make our own. Eliminates bread bags and twisty ties.
Trash bags because we reuse the plastic grocery bags first for storing our bread and then for trash bags.Eliminates the cardboard box for trash bags, and eliminates trash bags.
Laundry detergent because we make our own. Eliminates plastic jugs.
Dryer sheets because we hang all of laundry to dry, outside in nice weather, in the basement during the winter. No dryer sheets to throw out or packaging.
Eggs because we have chickens. No egg cartons.
Meat because we raise our own. No styrofoam meat trays.
8. We purchase most of our clothing from garage sales or thrift stores. We donate household items and clothing that we do not want anymore to thrift stores. Purchasing used items eliminates a lot of packing and diverts items from the trash bin. No plastic hangars, no needless packaging.
We live a frugal life because we choose to do so as it allows us to live the life that we want to live. There are things that we throw away that I wish I could find a solution for, plastic bags that fruit comes in is not very useful as it has holes punctured in it and to the best of my knowledge we cannot recycle it at this time. The paper around butter, we throw it away. Any plastic that is not #1 or #2 because it is not accepted at our recycling drop off. I am not sure that we will ever become completely trash free, but we do try to be as trash free as possible.