Trash Talk: What do you throw out?

Our neighbors seem to throw out more trash than us.

Today we're going to talk trash. I was grumbling the other day about how much garbage we toss every week.

I just don't see how we can accumulate three bags (standard 13 gallon kitchen bags) of garbage a week. I'm generally pretty good about recycling and composting, so what exactly is in my trash?

Greg broke it down for me one day when he bundled up the last bag. The bulk of our trash contained:

• 1 large plastic orange juice container

• 2 liter Coke bottle empties  (I'm a soft drink junkie--don't judge me.)

• Plastic wrappers/boxes from fruit and veggies

• A wine bottle

• A couple of tin cans from tomato sauce and beans

• Empty glass/plastic containers from mayonnaise, ketchup, and soy sauce. (It was actually a field day for containers because it happened to be the day I used up several condiments.)

• Dog waste (once a week)

We don't live in an area that picks up recycled materials, and there are only so many glass jars and plastic containers I can use at home. We do try to recycle things like peanut jars and mini jars because they come in useful for a large variety of things.

Greg keeps all aluminum cans. He claims he's going to build a forge and wants to use the aluminum in his metalworking. They're not in the house, so that's all I care about.

I used to keep the two liter soda empties to hold beans and rice, but I have all I need now. Butter and whipped cream tubs are handy for small batches of broth. All organic matter goes straight to the compost bins. Other things like boxes, cardboard, and paper are burned whenever we burn brush several times a year.

Dog waste is the only organic compound we don't compost. One reason is because they are meat eaters and I don't want to introduce a different set of bacteria into our compost. It's probably safe, but since I use the compost for food crops, I'd rather not take the chance.

So how about you? Do you think our trash is normal for our society? What kind of things do you throw out regularly? Does your community offer recycling?

Update: We're getting better. In 2019 and 2020, we're down to two bags a week.




Darke Conteur said…
We try to recycle everything here. We have alternating grey box (paper & loose plastic) and a blue box (hard plastic, glass, can), and a food scraps (green bin) every week. With all that we get one bag out per week that's filled with stuff like litter and the non-recyclable stuff.
I think if you could recycle you'd drop two bags. I find it strange that your district doesn't have a pickup. Even here we have it in the rural areas at least every other week. You
B.E. Sanderson said…
I think your trash is probably less than what the average American tosses. I toss pretty much everything - no recycling, no composting. I do crush 2-liter bottles, milk jugs... anything I can smash gets smashed. I do that to make more room in the garbage so we don't have to take it to the receptacle as often. I save certain things - small plastic containers, pretty jars, etc. Anything I think I might be able to use in the future.

We used to throw fish carcasses into the woods for the mama raccoon, but those were attracting vultures. Sometimes we'll put unwanted fruit out for the deer - bruised apples, grapes, carrots. Not totally sure if the deer are eating that or some other critter.

If I don't want it, but it's still good - old clothes, etc. - I donate it to the thrift store.

We still have about 3 bags a week for two people.
Rebekah Loper said…
You could bury the dog waste, as an option. Ours pretty much stays in the yard and we dodge it. XD I don't think I could get away with burying the cat litter in town, alas.

Even if there's no recycle pick-up, is there a drop off somewhere? I know it may not be feasible every week, but maybe once a month or every other month to at least cut back on some of what's going to the landfill?

Our city does recycling, but they don't take toxic/chemical things with the pick-up. I did, however, recently find out that our MET recycle drop-offs will take vehicle oil and a few other toxic waste items!

You could start making your own mayonnaise and cut back on the jars you're purchasing, too, since you'd be reusing containers.

That said, I'm not as good about recycling as I should be considering I just have to dump things in a separate bin right outside my door. And we still have 2-3 bags of waste (though one of those is JUST cat litter) each week, and far too much of that ends up being paper waste. I really need an extra recycle bin to go in the office.
Our garbage pick up and recycling pick up are on the same day so that works well. We recycle paper and that kind of thing, along with glass and plastic, etc. Probably why our actual garbage isn't that much since it gets divided.
Angela Brown said…
My daughter and I average 2 big bags a week. This is even though we recycle our plastic bottles. So what you and hubby do wach week seems rather normal from my perspective.

I think we just don't realize the conveniences we take advantage of until we see them stacked up in the trash.
lynnviehl said…
We recycle all of the paper, glass, aluminum and plastic trash we produce via our county's new single stream recycling program (everything goes in one bin, which makes it super easy to do.) I also try to reuse plastic bags, fabric and paper whenever possible. We probably produce about 4 kitchen-size bags of trash every week, but it's mostly organic stuff that will break down as compost at the landfill.

I'm focused on not buying new things whenever possible. When one of my old serving bowls finally cracked in half last week I went to Goodwill to buy a replacement. The bowl I found there was cheaper than buying new, looks perfect, and blends right in with my hodgepodge collection of dishes. :)

I've got everyone thinking about how to recycle now. My guy makes our own firewood with tree trimmings that he seasons over the summer. My daughter just clean out her wardrobe and took a big bag of her old clothing over to Goodwill. I'm donating an old computer to the local high school. You just have to get creative with what you don't want to use.
Maria Zannini said…
If I could source out a center our waste would be minute. Most of this is packaging and glass.
Maria Zannini said…
Be: I know our neighbors throw out more than we do. It surprises me the don't burn more of their paper and cardboard. It just seems safer to burn junk mail.
Maria Zannini said…
Rebekah: I think there's one place that does aluminum, but we already keep that. I try not to drive into Dallas unless I'm picking someone up at the airport. That city is insane with traffic.
Maria Zannini said…
Madeline: when I lived just outside of Dallas, we had regular recycling pickup, but out here we're on our own.
Maria Zannini said…
Angels: When I lived alone, I averaged a little more than a bag a week. It used to make me mad because trash pickup is so expensive here.
We kind of made up for it when we started downsizing and three a lot out. Most got picked up before the trash people arrived, but for once I got my money's worth.
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: Make sure your hard drive is blank. I always worry about people who can glean information from even alleged dead computers.
Re: Goodwill: Absolutely. One of the reasons we enjoy garage saling is because we find high dollar pieces for dirt cheap, even cheaper than Goodwill. We just picked up two gorgeous arm chairs for the dining table worth $$$ for a few dollars.
Jenny Schwartz said…
Trash! Oh yeah. There's so much, even when you refuse additional packaging for things. I swear, when you go shopping, it's not "do you want fries with that?" it's the insidious extra plastic bag to carry everything in. It just appears! This is one of my hobby horses - additional packaging. I hate that cookies (ha! I skipped over the trap of calling them biscuits) sometimes come wrapped in individual wrapping within the overall cookie packet. That drives me nuts! (So I buy a different brand).

Ahem. Rant over.
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: I guess you can thank people with sticky fingers for having so much extra packaging. I swear sometimes I can't even open the package without a machete and a blow torch.

Like Lynn, we try not to buy 'new' stuff, but with food you're kind of stuck with whatever they decide. I miss the old days when they'd wrap stuff up in brown paper or just stick all your items in a paper bag that you can, of course, reuse.
lv2trnscrb said…
I think your trash is normal or a bit lower that average, LOL, especially since you can't recycle where you are at. We normally have two 13 gallon bags of trash that go out weekly (three if the family has been over more than usual) but we recycle glass, cans, paper, cardboard, etc. Our recycle bin can be 1/2 filled weekly while our trash bin is barely 1/4 filled. I take out both weekly to the curb for pick up because the trash can be a bit stinky if left more than a week especially with the heat here.

LD Masterson said…
We have a recycling pick up with our trash company so paper, most plastic, and cans go in there. Some weeks, all I put out for pick up is the recycling bin. Not enough in the trash can to haul it to the curb.
Maria Zannini said…
Betty: I guess recycling focuses on the more urban areas. It's a shame our trash service doesn't do recycling. They charge us a fortune as it is.
Maria Zannini said…
Linda: When I lived in the suburbs that was my situation too. Since I lived alone for most of that time, there were weeks when there wasn't enough to bother taking it to the curb.
Mike Keyton said…
One black plastic bag of garbage every two weeks. The rest is recycled, a bag for plastic, cans and glass, another for paper and cardboard, and then food-waste used for composting. We are virtuous people :)
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: On this side of the pond, the black garbage bags are 50 gallon, so I don't know how virtuous that makes you. :) But good on you for recycling. That indeed is virtuous.