Make Less Trash and Save Money and Help the Environment

trashOne of the difficulties of living in such a rural area is dealing with trash. No matter how hard you work at it, you will still produce garbage. The only trash pickup in our area is expensive, so we have been motivated to be more aware of how much garbage we produce. We have also needed to get creative when disposing of our garbage. How have we been able to avoid paying for regular trash pickup? Keep reading!

Food Trashtrash

Dealing with our food trash turned out to be fairly simple. We have plans to put in a garden, so it made sense to build a compost bin. We built it out of pallets. It’s just a square of 4 pallets put together with baling wire. We purchased a good quality garden soil to add to the compost. We started with a couple of bags in the bottom of the bin and began tossing in any food scraps we have. Every so often we add another bag of soil. We have the bin set up right behind our chicken coop, so we when we clean the coop that goes into the compost, too. The result is a rich compost that is wonderful for gardening.

Pet Trash

This one proved to be a little tougher. We have 5 indoor cats, so as you can imagine, we go through a lot of cat litter. As long as we’ve had them, I have purchased traditional clay litter. The problem after we moved, though, was disposing of the used litter. We couldn’t bury it without contaminating ground water, so we would store it in bags until we had enough to take to the dump. It was heavy and gross, and it cost $1 a bag to dump it. That may not sound bad, but it added up quick. We were using 2, 40 pound buckets of litter a month. I also learned that the clay used is obtained by strip mining, so it’s just bad for the environment all around.

It seemed like there had to be a better way, so I researched the topic. I discovered that there natural cat litters out there that are much more environmentally friendly. We switched to Blue Buffalo Multi Cat Clumping Litter. You can find it here. It’s made from walnut shells, something that would normally be wasted. And once used it can be composted or even flushed down the toilet. We add ours to the compost. Not hauling heavy bags of used litter to the dump made us very happy! Our cats adjusted to it with no difficulty. One of our cats had chronic runny eyes and sneezing, but once we switched, that went away. We didn’t realize that the clay litter would affect them like that.

You may be asking, though, how does it perform in comparison to traditional clay litter? And how does it compare cost wise? It clumps just as well, and a 26 pound bag lasts us about 2 months, even with 5 cats. We actually spend less on this litter than on traditional. Plus we save on dump fees. It is dark in color, so I wouldn’t advise using it in areas with light colored carpets. It still produces a small amount of dust but seems to track less than clay litter. We use sifting litter boxes to minimize how much is wasted as well.

'There is no such thing as 'away.' When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere.' -Annie LeonardClick To Tweet

Paper Trash

This required a bit more creativity. We burn some of our trash, but are working on adding our paper and cardboard trash to our compost pile. But we want to minimize how much we burn, as well as save a few dollars. So we began looking for ways to go paperless. For instance, we switched all our bills to paperless, cutting down on the amount of mail we receive. With a little creativity, we switched many of our disposable products to reusable, such as using cloth napkins instead of paper. (Read more details here.) We save about $50 per month. That is a lot of money to basically be throwing away each month.

trashOther Ideas

A couple of other ideas: Take reusable shopping bags to the store, eliminating even more waste. We no longer need to buy large garbage bags. With 5 dogs, 5 cats, and 12 chickens, we reuse their feed bags for garbage. So we don’t buy trash bags and we reuse an item that would otherwise go right into the garbage.

There are still some trash items we can’t take care of ourselves, such as glass or cans. There is a place locally that buys metal or plastic for recycling, so we can take it there or to the dump. My husband has plans to build his own forge, so eventually he’ll be using our metal trash for that. I often wash out glass jars or bottles to reuse them around the house. They are great for taking meals to people without having to worry about getting your dishes back. Plus I prefer to drink out of glass rather than plastic. So with some creative thinking, we don’t have to pay for trash pickup. Plus it feels good to put our trash to good use where possible rather than have it rotting in some landfill.

Do you have any suggestions for handling trash? Let me know in the comments below! Then learn more:

Going Paperless Throughout the House

Why You Should Buy Secondhand

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