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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How much trash do we make?

When I was a teenager my grandmother gave me a book titled "The Millionaire Next Door". The jist was that many people who were millionaires you would never know it. They got their money by living within their means and not keeping up with the Jones' and over consuming.

There were a couple points I took from that book and always remembered.

First was the debate over college or not. It argued both sides well, and didn't just default to "You have to go to college or you won't make enough money". It presented that college is years of borrowing money when you could be making it, added with some compounding interest and a reasonable lifestyle, it was a feasible alternative. Of course college wasn't presented as a silly thing to do either.

The other thing that stuck was garbage output and how it is a direct gauge of consumerism. People who kept up with Jones' made a lot of trash. Younger people made more trash than older due to having to make major purchases like appliances that will get purchased less frequently as life's gadgets are acquired already.

Ever since I read that book I have monitored my weekly trash output (so basically my entire adult life). Not on paper or anything, but it's always been my job to take out the trash, and it's not hard to figure out if you've taken it out 3 times or 4 before you pull the can out front for county pickup and know what average per week is.

When I was in my 20s, there was tons of trash. I wasn't to be bothered recycling and I wanted everything right now. Everything had packaging, and it was just as unnecessary bulky packaging was starting to become taboo. Also my son was born. I was running 4-6 trash bags a week and was always working on a dump run pile of larger stuff.

In my 30's I started feeling bad for not recycling, but didn't start.I had a much better job than in my 20's, and although I remembered the lessons of the book I had read I was still making lots of trash. 3-4 bags a week but with no where near the dump runs.

Doing the whole unemployment thing in my 40s has been challenging. It's obvious that a big hit in income would lower trash output. Also my son moved out. In the last couple years we've been down to a couple bags a week with one small spring cleaning dump pile every year. Still wasn't recycling.

So in the last year I've accepted that I'm not working, and have been working here at home. We have an acre and it's perfect growing soil in the middle of one of the most fertile areas anywhere. It sat mostly fallow while I was working. Since I have no money, I started researching sustainable gardening and just overall self reliance and started digging. Lot's of digging.

I started a compost pile and a worm bin, and that started me separating trash. About a month ago the county picked up our huge garbage can that I only had to pull out front every couple weeks at 2 bags/week output, and replaced it with a cute little can that fit exactly two bags. They also dropped off two big huge shiny new recycle bins, one for green waste one for mixed recyclables. They were obviously pushing for recycling. I have 8-10 times the bin space for recyclables than I do for trash.

It finally pushed me over the edge to start recycling. So now in the kitchen we have a trash can, a recyclables bag and a little covered flip lid can for food compost waste. This has been a long slow process but all came together in the last couple weeks.

Ok so here's the thing... My trash output this week? zero! First time ever. I don't have anything to put in the garbage bin to pull out front and it is trash day. Ok for the sake of accuracy I'll admit that there a half a bag of trash in the kitchen bin, but that's hardly worth pulling the county bin out front. We have filled our big mixed recycle bin not quite halfway up in a couple weeks so will pulling that up sometime in April, and we throw a pound or two of food waste to the compost and worms every couple or three days. It's amazing to us how much of our trash output wasn't trash.

I won't go on and on about the worm castings tea or the free fertilizer and compost or how well my heirloom tomatoes seedlings came up in the cold frame I built or how much better fresh eggs are when you know what the chicken has been fed or how my honeybees get here in a couple weeks or any of that stuff. This thread is about trash, and how easy it is to make less of it.

We're mostly men here. I'd imagine there's a few regular garbage haulers here. How many tall kitchen bags of trash a week do you generate? Has it changed as you've gotten older? Do you recycle anything?
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Gibson has made quite a bit lately
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Too much
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

We go through one garbage bag (not usually very full) and a full recycle bin every week.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

I see other counties with little carry recycle bins that you set by the curb. Sacramento gave us huge rolling bins for recyclables. Almost 5 foot tall with big wheels. You could fit a couple dead bodies in there.

They pick up green and mixed every two weeks but it will take me at least a month to fill that mixed bin.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Just dead soldiers and empty waffle boxes.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

I try to not only recycle, but reuse and replace as well. My office supplies styrofoam cups for coffee and water and plastic eating utensils and I stopped using them a year or so ago. I brought in my own cups for water and coffee and a metal fork, knife and a couple of spoons; it's a little more trouble since I have to wash dishes, but no big deal. Any plastic containers that I get from the supermarket gets reused until it's no longer usable and I sort my recyclables. I don't print anything unless I absolutely need to (which is very rare); instead, if I need to "print" I create a PDF.

A friend of mine figured out that all the individually sized bottled water that he and his wife were drinking was costing them NINE DOLLARS PER GALLON. They now use a filtration system. Bottled water is one of, if not the biggest, ripoffs out there.

I'm no tree hugger but I do try to do what I can, where it makes sense, to not create waste. What I do isn't huge, but if everyone made a little effort to recycle, reuse and replace, it would really add up to a lot less crap laying around, stinking up the place and going to waste.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

I don't recycle unless it's aluminum. I mix all plastics into my regular black hefty bags.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 01:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

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I don't recycle unless it's aluminum. I mix all plastics into my regular black hefty bags.
Doesn't make a lot of sense to recycle glass, it's made of sand and there's no shortage of that stuff. Whether you're making new glass or recycling it, it still takes energy to create glass products. Plastics, on the other hand, are mostly made from petroleum so it makes sense to recycle those items rather than buying more oil from the middle east just to make a bottle for two liters of Coke.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 02:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

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Doesn't make a lot of sense to recycle glass, it's made of sand and there's no shortage of that stuff. Whether you're making new glass or recycling it, it still takes energy to create glass products. Plastics, on the other hand, are mostly made from petroleum so it makes sense to recycle those items rather than buying more oil from the middle east just to make a bottle for two liters of Coke.
We get about 80% of our oil from Mexico, Canada, and Venezuela.. so you obviously hate tacos, hockey, whatever the hell is native to Venezuela.

Melting the plastic for reuse takes up too much energy than recycling it, unless you collect the bottles and refill them with filtered water or rice, for example.

I use a Pur filter in the kitchen, but will get an atmospheric water generator... eventually.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 02:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

When I was in my 20's I threw some things away I totally kick myself for now.

We had a huge Telefunken stereo from the 50's in a *huge* cabinet with all the original paperwork, in German.. It sounded incredible but was freakin huge. It eventually got stored where it got some water damage on the cabinet, and was thrown out. A few years later I learned of my ignorance when I saw the prices on the telefunkin preamp tubes. I've kicked myself sooo many times since over that.

It's amazing how silly you can be when you are young, while not feeling like it at all at the time.

Now I fix it. If I can't fix it I strip it of anything remotely useful.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 02:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

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We get about 80% of our oil from Mexico, Canada, and Venezuela.. so you obviously hate tacos, hockey, whatever the hell is native to Venezuela.
lol!

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Melting the plastic for reuse takes up too much energy than recycling it, unless you collect the bottles and refill them with filtered water or rice, for example.

I use a Pur filter in the kitchen, but will get an atmospheric water generator... eventually.
I'd like to see us ("us" being the U.S.) get away from using so many plastic products that are simply containers for food and drink. We used to get beverages in glass bottles but that gave way to plastic; plastic has it's advantages because it's lighter and doesn't shatter when dropped but it still takes petroleum to make and takes forever to break down.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 02:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Me and my wife go have one small kitchen size garbage back of trash a week. We recycle cans, but that's all.
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Unread 03-21-2011, 06:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Hey brother... before I moved to my current arrangements I did not have a recycling service. I would take the trash out about once a day (13 gal. trash can). We had a lot of trash. It was due to not recycling and having a young child. My son is older now, potty trained, and we have recycling service at my current setup. I never got down to zero bags of trash but I came close.

I went from seven 13 gallon bags of trash a week to about 1.5 bags a week after I started recycling and composting. Here is a pic of the composter I have in my yard. I am currently not using it and havent for a few months due to me about to move in about a week. I wanted to make sure all the phone books I hand shredded and put in were going to be black enough to dump in the yard. I bought it off of craigslist. A guy in Norfolk was making them for $120 (a lot cheaper than something comparable that is commercially built). And yes, the barrel was a food grade barrel. My yard has crazy black, rich soil in it now. Thank you junk mail. I'm sad I can't take it with me for my new garden.

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Unread 03-21-2011, 06:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Whenever my composter would get full enough I would dump the crap out on the ground behind it. Sometimes if I had kitchen scraps to dump and it was full I would just throw the stuff on the ground pile and cover it with dirt to keep the flies and stink away. This little sucker popped up in the pile unexpectedly one day... I got some good squash off it too!



I also wanted to put a picture of this up... It's a cold frame I built this with a recycled window that was going in the trash... in the pic the window is off of it showing off the mixed salad greens and carrots.

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Unread 03-21-2011, 06:55 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

How are the mags I sent 180? Find anything interesting yet?
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Unread 03-21-2011, 07:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

this is not the droid you are looking for
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Unread 03-21-2011, 07:23 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

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Unread 03-22-2011, 12:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

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How are the mags I sent 180? Find anything interesting yet?
I can't get them away from my wife. She's going on about wanting to build a yurt. She loves them. I'll get my chance to read them... lol

I love that seed catalog!

I'm digging on the cold frame I built out of the old window. Starting seeds in February was a good thing. I've got a couple dozen heirloom tomatoes potted and going well from that. Lotsa other stuff too. I was gonna start some spinach and mixed greens in there later in the year for winter.

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Unread 03-22-2011, 10:24 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

I've been composting and recycling for a few years now. I also barely make "trash".
Here's a pic of my "homemade" coldframe:
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Unread 03-22-2011, 04:37 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

This thread is full of win! I was reading in mother earth news a way to keep the temperature above freezing inside your mini coldframes for the winter months. You can get a bird bath water circulating pump (keeps the water from freezing in birdbaths) and put it in a bowl of water inside the cold frame. The water, heated slightly above freezing, will keep your greens from freezing. The only trick would be running an outdoor extension cord to it and keeping it filled with water, which is no biggie.
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Unread 03-22-2011, 10:41 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

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Doesn't make a lot of sense to recycle glass, it's made of sand and there's no shortage of that stuff. Whether you're making new glass or recycling it, it still takes energy to create glass products. Plastics, on the other hand, are mostly made from petroleum so it makes sense to recycle those items rather than buying more oil from the middle east just to make a bottle for two liters of Coke.
Plastics are made from the residual crap in a barrel of oil...everything that can be turned into gasoline is...Plastic stocks are just leftovers, we aren't drilling for oil just to make plastic.

I'm not sure if it takes more energy to recycle used plastic or not, but we recycle plastics because they don't break down in the land fill.
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Unread 03-23-2011, 03:50 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: How much trash do we make?

Glass will somewhat break down but it leiterally takes hundreds of years. Why recycle glass? Who wants broken glass all over the place? It might have costed more energy to recycle back when recycling was still new but with current technology it doesn't. If it saves energy then why not? FYI intersting fact: it takes around 20 plastic 2-liter bottles to make one polyester fleece jacket.
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