One way our family saves money monthly is by limiting our trash to one can per month, saving us $32.90 monthly and $394.80 annually. While not a mountain of cash, our family feels really good about not sending a mountain of trash to the landfill.
So how does a family of four limit to one trash can per month?
- Reduce – You don’t ever have to throw something out if it never enters your home. It can also be thought of as “precycling,” continually evaluating how much packaging an item comes in to consider its long term implications. It can also be seen as ReThinking. Do you really need it? How long will you benefit from it? Is it recyclable?
- Reuse – If you think creatively enough, almost anything can be reused. You can also donate for reuse. The School & Community Reuse Action Project (S.C.R.A.P.) accepts donations of all sorts to be used in creative reuse projects, like turning CDs and records into clocks. Portland’s ReBuilding Center has been very successful at tackling a big waste source; building waste accounts for at least 20% of landfills. I also found a national organization, ReDo Reuse Development Organization that accepts donations for a variety of items from across the country and helps match you with more local reuse centers.
- Recycle – Not surprisingly, the biggest factor that helps us stick to one garbage can per month is recycling everything possible. We have large roll carts for co-mingled recycling, and we do have pick up service every week, although we usually put it out every other week (no need to make the haulers stop if its half full.) If you don’t already, get to know what materials are accepted in your local market. With a little research you might find that some materials can be dropped off special places (like sour cream tubs and plastic bags). One last recycling tip, make sure any plastic bags get separated since they can ruin most recycling conveyor belts.
- Compost – Food scraps typically make up 12% of garbage, and is completely and naturally recyclable. Exchanging garbage for soil is really and environmental no-brainer. There are more and more municipalities offering compost/yard waste pick-up, and even downtown offices have composting.
- Remember – Sometimes it’s easy to loose sight of how some handy convenience will lead to a heap of trash and why it is so important. The best reminders for me are age one and four. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to only take the trash out once a month?!
I also don’t want to make our one garbage can out to be such a big deal, since I know we’re not the only family to limit our trash. EnviroMom even has a “One Can Challenge,” and the entire City of Portland is shifting the policy to pick up trash only twice a month, once they add composting to yard waste bins.
How have you reduced your family’s trash? Could you live with one can?
Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.