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-   -   Help me cut down on my garbage bag output…..and a poll! (http://www.mothering.com/forum/311-mindful-home/1362222-help-me-cut-down-my-garbage-bag-outputa-poll.html)

kathymuggle 09-02-2012 12:37 PM

My town has a 4 bag a week garbage bag limit.  It is going down to 3 next week, and 2 in February.

 

I think I can do three if I recycle more, but at this point in time I cannot see how I will get down to two bags per week. There are 5 in my family (plus a cat and guinea pig - both of whom generate some waste)  So a poll and a question:

 

If you output less than 1/2 a normal size bag of trash per person, how do you do it???

 

Poll time!


Sharlla 09-02-2012 12:47 PM

we recycle and compost.  3 adults, 3 kids we dont even fill up 1 bag a week.   we dig a hole and bury pet waste


kathymuggle 09-02-2012 12:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharlla View Post

we recycle and compost.  3 adults, 3 kids we dont even fill up 1 bag a week.   we dig a hole and bury pet waste

I am impressed!

 

How do you deal with pet waste in winter?


Sharlla 09-02-2012 12:54 PM

luckily here it's not an issue since the winters tend to be pretty mild here


beanma 09-02-2012 07:24 PM

We recycle, compost and re-use. 

 

Almost all food scraps are composted. Maybe once in awhile we have something like moldy cheese or something that needs to be thrown away rather than composted (greasy stuff is not good to compost). If it's scraps of meat we feed it to the dogs. 

 

Our town recycles paper (so any cereal boxes, papers from school, cash register receipts, etc, etc), plastic (plastic bags, saran wrap, etc), cans, glass and plastic containers. 

 

The stuff that goes in the garbage is either really gross (dog vomit), or some little bit of plasticky something or other that can't get recycled. I just looked in the kitchen trash now and it's got some food packaging—foil backed plastic wrapper from a thing of Newman-O's cookies, some little plastic trays from those seaweeds snacks (that probably could have been recycled) a plastic wrapper from some veggie dogs, etc. I empty the vacuum cleaner (bagless) and dustpan in there, but there's not so much other stuff. We use dish towels and dish cloths for most wiping of spills. We try to minimize our paper towel use. The kids don't generate a lot of trash. They either hang on to it in their rooms (some art creations) or recycle (old schoolwork). We don't have a huge amount of bathroom trash. 

 

We have one of those big green rolling trash bins and a lot of weeks we don't even put it out because it's not full. We always put out the recycling, though, and generate a lot of that. Our town has moved to single stream recycling so we don't have to separate anything out, but our system is set up with 3 small trash can sized recycling bins (the size of a regular plastic grocery bag) and one compost bin so we do anyway. We often have to empty it twice a week. We have two big plastic totes for recycling (maybe the size of two kitchen trash cans) and usually fill them both up.

 

What's in your trash can now?


SweetSilver 09-02-2012 07:39 PM

What size trash bag?  We fill up about one paper grocery bag per week for 4 people, and we don't squash it down too much.  We compost all food, even meat and cheese and stuff (chickens help).  We recycle everything and try our hardest to send unwanted items to the thrift store or to friends (however, often those items were used when we got them and really aren't worth passing down anymore.)

My husband generates some trash for his landscaping business, and we recently moved and really downsized, so we've made some pretty big trash loads recently that negate what I just answered, but so much included garage stuff that had accumulated for years.

 

beanma, I would probably clean up the dog puke (or, in our case cat puke or hair "balls") with a paper towel and throw it in the compost.  I keep paper towels just for these reasons-- cleaning up greasy pans before washing-- and into the compost they go.  No problem with those in there.

 

Our cats do their business outside, but when we leave them in on trips, they've gotten used to a litter box filled with wood shavings.  It is super cheap and easy to dump in the (more yard-waste-y) compost.  

 

So, big trash bag?  It would take about a month to fill one with regular household trash, and we could do better if I really tried.  Composting religiously makes a huge difference.


kathymuggle 09-03-2012 06:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

 

What's in your trash can now?

Milk Bag - clean

milk bag  - has milk remnants in this - is this recyclable or do I have to wash it first?

banana peel

old pizza - cheese and veggie

tea bag

paper towels

salad  (with dressing - is this compostable?)

bag cat litter

old shoes (not in donatable shape) 

moldy food from the fridge

paper (probably recyclable - but we do like to put paper that has identifying information in the garbage versus the recycle container, as we figure it is less likely to be picked through that the recycling.  Maybe I need to ask Santa for a shredder for xmas…..). Our recycle box also has paper in it - what I suspect is happenning is that if I deal with it, it goes in recycling, if anyone else does, they throw it in the trash.

paper towels

 

Ok.  The above list  is humbling. bag.gif I can easily see that most can go in recycling or in compost (we used to have a compost bin outside, but that has fallen by the wayside, and is covered in weeds.)  Recycling alone might get us down to 2 big bags.   Getting people onboard might be more difficult.  They will not be opposed, but habits are hard to break.  Ugh


kathymuggle 09-03-2012 06:52 AM

Sweetsilver...

 

We fill an average of 3-4 large bags a week.bag.gif  Like from the Hefty or Glad Ads?

 

Honestly, I know we have been very naughty.  For years we struggled with too much mess and stuff - and throwing it out seemed much easier and less overwhelming than sorting, and cleaning cans and stuff before they went into the recycling.  I am not upset that the world is giving us this kick to become more environmentally conscious!


beanma 09-03-2012 07:31 AM

Yeah, if you start really looking at it you see stuff that can go in the compost or the recycling. I was surprised when I looked at ours in response to this thread and saw several things that I thought could be recycled. 

 

Dog vomit is still going in the trash, though. Bleah! Luckily our current pooches aren't big yakkers. Our dearly departed guy had a very touchy stomach and questionable instincts about what was appropriate to eat (Christmas garland, anyone).  I will clean up a dog pee accident (we have one who is a submissive pee-er) with an old prefold and just wash it. 

 

We probably fill one tall kitchen trash bag a week. Now, I do have a lot of other stuff that needs to be gotten rid of (cleaned out my mom & dad's house about a year ago) and my garage is packed full, but the amount of garbage we produce weekly is about one bag's worth. Sometimes stuff just needs to be thrown away — worn out, ripped underwear, etc. I just rip up identifiable papers, but I think identity theft online is more of a threat than someone going through the recycling. I'm not sure what a milk bag is, but if it's a plastic bag we could probably recycle it here. You're supposed to cut off the hard bits (like a zipper on a zip top bag). All of the following would go in the compost in my house: "banana peel, old pizza, tea bag, paper towels, salad  (with dressing - is this compostable?)". I do put some greasy things in the compost, but not meat and not a brick of cheese. If there's cheese on old pizza or salad dressing on a salad I don't worry about it. Of your list I think the cat litter and the old shoes would probably get thrown away here and the rest recycled or composted. We don't have cats, though, so someone else might be able to better advise on a waste system for kitties. I do take care of a friend's cats when they go out of town and they're big composters and recyclers and they do throw that away. We just let our dogs poop in the backyard. We have a very wooded yard covered in english ivy so it's not noticeable and it composts naturally. I know some people flush their pet waste. 

 

Good luck getting everyone on board. Maybe if you start charging them for their trash output they'll pay attention!


kathymuggle 09-03-2012 07:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

 

Good luck getting everyone on board. Maybe if you start charging them for their trash output they'll pay attention!

Well, the township will sell us "extra bag allotments" at 3-4 dollars a pop - so you might be onto something. 

 

The switch over to 2 bags is months away, so we do have some time to retrain ourselves.  If they really do not get onboard, I am considering emptying a trash bag and having everyone go through it to pick out recyclables.  Gross, but I might not have to do it more than once or twice!


Daffodil 09-03-2012 09:04 AM

I didn't answer the poll because I wasn't sure what you meant by "normal garbage bag size."  We have a family of 4 and we generally take a 30-gallon bag to the dump every other week.  We can usually fit about 3 standard kitchen trash bags in a 30-gallon bag.  We recycle and compost.


onlyzombiecat 09-03-2012 09:16 AM

You could try making a worm bin and maybe your family would be more excited about composting. You can find instructions on the internet on how to set one up. A helpful book is Worms Eat My Garbage.


weliveintheforest 09-03-2012 09:54 AM

If you can compost, that will help, but if you don't want to compost things like meat, fat, dairy, grains, some places have an organic waste place you can take that stuff.  My town recently started picking it up with our curbside service, but before that you could drive it to the dump for free, or take it to another place that would exchange your bin for a fresh one for $5.  There may be something similar to that in your area that would help.  

 

oh, and I'm not sure how bags compare to my bin, so I'm saying 1/4 to 1/2 bag a person.  We put out our garbage every other week and it's always full by then. 


SweetSilver 09-03-2012 11:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Milk Bag - clean

milk bag  - has milk remnants in this - is this recyclable or do I have to wash it first?  We don't have milk bags here, what is the material?  

banana peel  Compost

old pizza - cheese and veggie  Compost (worm bin best for this, considering it has cheese.)

tea bag  Compost

paper towels  Compost-- would do well in the worm bin to add to bedding

salad  (with dressing - is this compostable?)  Yes, compost

bag cat litter  The bag itself?  If we have plastic bags from cat food, etc, they get filled with garbage

old shoes (not in donatable shape)   Trash or kitschy garden decorations filled with sedums.  OK, that's a stretch.....

moldy food from the fridge  Compost

paper (probably recyclable - but we do like to put paper that has identifying information in the garbage versus the recycle container, as we figure it is less likely to be picked through that the recycling.  Maybe I need to ask Santa for a shredder for xmas…..). Our recycle box also has paper in it - what I suspect is happenning is that if I deal with it, it goes in recycling, if anyone else does, they throw it in the trash.

paper towels  We use the worm bin for sensitive stuff.  Nobody but nobody is going through our gross worm bin.  Even some other paper that would end up in the recycling goes in there for bedding.  

 

Ok.  The above list  is humbling. bag.gif I can easily see that most can go in recycling or in compost (we used to have a compost bin outside, but that has fallen by the wayside, and is covered in weeds.)  Recycling alone might get us down to 2 big bags.   Getting people onboard might be more difficult.  They will not be opposed, but habits are hard to break.  Ugh


kathymuggle 09-03-2012 12:28 PM

Pictures of milk bags

 

http://www.google.com/search?q=milk+bags+canada&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=bwNFUL_LJ6P30gGN1ICYDA&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=580

 

3 clear ones (1.333… litres each) are packaged together in a  4 litre outer bag.  Hmmm…it does seem wasteful now that I think about it.

 

The outer bag is LDPE 4 - whatever that means.  I will go back to the township recycling page and see what they say about it.

 

Yeah, I could put the paper in the compost bin. We just have large storage plastic containers as compost - they fill up so fast, that using them has not worked out so well.  Maybe I need to  look into red worms compost - although I think I might start with recycling as it may be easier.  I wonder if worms can overwinter outside?


beanma 09-03-2012 05:27 PM

Huh. Learn something new every day. We don't use a lot of milk, but when we do we buy from a local dairy that uses old fashioned glass milk bottles that I can take back to the store for a deposit. The dairy then picks them up from the store and washes, sterilizes and reuses them. http://www.befitbefull.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/IMG_2788.jpg . The only thing that gets thrown away is the plastic top if we can't find a re-use for it.


neonalee 09-03-2012 05:51 PM

Seems obvious but since no one has mentioned... I break down all containers, regardless if they are going to trash or recycling. Just making everything flat where possible (I even cut apart plastics like from berries) makes a big difference. I had to teach this to my family.

Sent from my phone using Tapatalk, please ignore typos!

katelove 09-03-2012 05:58 PM

I would put all the food and the tea bags on your list in the compost. The only food waste I don't compost is large bits of meat and bones. Little scraps of meat I put in and we've had no problems with vermin.

Sensitive papers I shred and they go in the compost too. Shredded paper is great for compost and our bin will take all we generate.

SweetSilver 09-03-2012 07:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

 I wonder if worms can overwinter outside?

Some folks partially submerge their worm bin.  You can keep it in a garage or a basement.  It all depends on how cold it gets.  Mainly, it would slow their metabolism down, and thus your compost.   Worms need a lot of bedding in the form of paper or woodshavings, etc.  They can't have it too wet, nor too dry.  They do fill up fast!  


chel 09-04-2012 06:26 AM

We go through about 2kitchen bags a week.

recycling is the key for us. We fill at least 1 30gal container of recyclables a week. Easily 2-3.

kathymuggle 09-04-2012 06:35 AM

Grrr….I just called the township and they do not take plastic bags for recycling.  


beanma 09-04-2012 06:51 AM

Do your grocery stores take plastic bags? Almost all of the grocery stores here accept plastic bags for recycling. We just save them up and take them back for recycling when we go shopping. Maybe this would help: http://www.plasticbagrecycling.org/plasticbag/s01_consumers.html . It has a list of all the different kinds of plastic we can recycle.


ollyoxenfree 09-04-2012 07:05 AM

If a garbage bag means a Hefty green garbage bag, then we use less than 1/4 per person. Some months, I doubt we would even fill one of those bags. We have a really good municipal waste system though. There is separate pick up for compostables and it takes meat and dairy waste as well as veggies. The recycling takes almost everything including plastics, styrofoam and paper. There is very little that we have to put into the "garbage" stream. Hopefully your regional waste management system will make some changes and make it easier for you. 

 

I found that it helps to make the separation as convenient as possible. I have a stainless compost bucket with a lid on the kitchen counter, near the sink. I also have 2 lidded trash bins in the kitchen. The "garbage" bin is quite small - about the size that someone would keep in an office near a desk. The recycling bin is 2 or 3 times bigger than the "garbage" bin. It's a good visual reminder for everyone. 

 

Good luck with changing family habits. It can take a little time so don't get discouraged. 


kathymuggle 09-04-2012 07:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Do your grocery stores take plastic bags? Almost all of the grocery stores here accept plastic bags for recycling. We just save them up and take them back for recycling when we go shopping. Maybe this would help: http://www.plasticbagrecycling.org/plasticbag/s01_consumers.html . It has a list of all the different kinds of plastic we can recycle.

I can reduce my plastic bags - easily.

 

Plastic bags costs 5 cents each, free if you bring your own.

I can also use boxes for free from the store

I can use cloth bags.

 

Retail bags may come down to reduce more than recycle.

 

I can donate them to the library or second hand shop.

 

There will still be the milk bags, plus other bags (I do not use plastic bags for fruit or veggies - DH does, he has germ phobia thing going on)

 

kathy


mumkimum 09-04-2012 07:21 AM

We are a family of 2 adults, 2 young kids, and 2 cats.  We have 2 kitchen garbage bags per week, generally, with an occasional 3rd (again, kitchen garbage bag size - like those white ones, not the huge black bags).  One of these is the kitchen garbage (with small bathroom garbage bag stuffed inside too), the other is cat litter.  We compost and keep recycling separate.

 

 

Garbage habits that might be of interest:

 

In the laundry room, I have a large-ish garbage can where I mostly keep 'dry' garbage (like teeny paper/craft scraps, stuff from doing laundry, bent nails, etc).  I will empty the kids room garbage cans in here so as not to take them out weekly (usually just stuff like tiny paper scraps, wrappers from things).  Doing something like this might save you a bag sometimes that you can reserve for whenever you have  a lighter garbage week.  I personally am doing it more out of laziness and so as not to waste garbage bags.

 

Compost piles don't have to be formal or contained.  Seriously, my folks have a compost heap that's loosely covered by a plastic tablecloth behind their garage (to help deter animals, somewhat, and keep it from getting soggy).  Most important thing to keep your compost pile going is having a container inside that people remember to use and someone committed to actually getting it outside.  We've sometimes put paper scrap in our compost too (like shredding, like other PP's mentioned).  Yes, stuff like old bread and moldy food totally go in there.  It really helps your garbage not smell as badly, either, when you compost all those food scraps.  

 

Our city will also take plastic bags of shredding if labeled 'paper' for recycling (and we save personal stuff for various free shredding events too, just to save ourselves the time of having to do it ourselves).  So either of those might be interesting to see if they're available for you.

 

I also save and re-use a lot of our various collected plastic containers - I have a dedicated box for cleaned ones in our basement that can get grabbed for whatever we need.  Somehow, we accumulate a lot of stuff of this nature and I know if we just threw it out it would really increase our garbage.  We've always ended up using it up (sending leftover food to people, packing up holiday cookies, or letting the kids do whatever with).   


SweetSilver 09-04-2012 07:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mumkimum View Post
In the laundry room, I have a large-ish garbage can where I mostly keep 'dry' garbage (like teeny paper/craft scraps, stuff from doing laundry, bent nails, etc). 

Ooooh.... dryer lint can be composted, too.  (Not that it will make a dent in your garbage size.)

 

I once did a trial for several months and threw just about everything into the worm bin, just to see.  Cellulose sponges dissolved.  I composted socks (a lot of lycra to bother with, unless you are committed), bedraggled paperbacks, pretty much everything I guessed might get processed.  You can compost cotton balls and q-tips, too.


elsie 09-04-2012 01:59 PM

We have different recycling containers form the county - paper, mixed and yard waste. With that, we have 1.5 bags of trash per week in a family of four with two cats. My large paper bin is almost always completely full. We only use paper towels for the cat mess that whenever we have bacon (like once  ayear). Most of what is in the trash is meat containers, unrecyclable food containers (plastic wrap, net bagging, cheese stick wrappers, etc) and floor sweeping/vacuum cleaner dust.

 

About senstive mail - you can easily recycle most of it and just cut out the bits with identifying information. We shred those pieces, but I don't like shredding the bigger pieces since it wears out the shredder. A large box of mail can be reduce to a small stack of what actually needs to be shredded. The rest gets thrown immediately into the recycle.


FillingMyQuiver 09-04-2012 05:54 PM

At our best, my family of 7 was generating one 13 gallon bag of trash every 2 weeks.  It was very labor intensive for me since I was the adult home all day with my 5 children under 8.

 

Now, we're generating about one 13 gallon bag of trash per week, so 1/7 of a bag per person.  We haul our own trash and recycling and we try to combine the trip with other errands on the weekend, so keeping our trash output to a minimum is a priority so we don't have loads of stinky trash to haul.

 

Mostly it boils down to be diligent about recycling, composting, reusing, and limiting what packaging comes into the house.  The Zero Waste Home calls it the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

 

We use these bins for our recycling.  Our county recycles mixed paper (anything that tears), newspaper, #1 and #2 plastics, all colors of glass, cans, plastic retail bags, and textiles, plus a bunch of other more specialized things like used motor oil, batteries, old paint, electronics, etc.

 

We use 1 bin for glass, 1 bin for plastics/ cans, and 1 for mixed paper.  When they're full, we haul to the recycling center.

 

We have very limited paper product usage in our home.  1 roll of paper towels will last us at least 6 months, depending on how often we make bacon, and we use cloth napkins, reusable cleaning cloths, and hand knit dishcloths for washing dishes.


IngaAnne 09-05-2012 12:00 PM

We have two adults, one kid, and two large dogs. Every week, we put out one bag of trash. Sometimes it's full, other times it's not, but the trash stinks too much to keep it around for longer than a week. I compost fruit and veggie scraps and we have a huge amount of recycling most weeks. I'm working on being less wasteful so we can cut back on recycling, too. The goal for me is far less plastic-use.

 

I use reusable bags for shopping and produce and refuse produce that is packaged 99% of the time. We use cloth napkins and towels. Paper towels are reserved for sick doggie mess.


denvertoo 09-05-2012 12:10 PM

First a question, what are the bag sizes? 



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