Set Up a Home Compost and Recycle System
We’re six months into the home recycling system, with no garbage hauler coming to our house. Here’s what I’ve learned:
One of the problems with becoming more self-reliant is the amount of garbage we produce at our house. I’m on a mission to get rid of my garbage service by recycling and reducing waste. This will save me $312 per year. The goal is to recycle all of it, so that none needs to go to the landfill. Can I accomplish that?
Food Scraps: Yes! We have been extremely successful at kitchen scrap composting. In fact I have several systems set up to handle it. Now that warmer weather is here and we’re eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, it really is necessary to have these different systems in place.
I have set up some systems in the house to handle various items that we would normally send to the dump or have the hauler take to recycling.
Composting our kitchen scraps – my family is doing pretty good with this and I’m experimenting with different ways to turn it into compost for my yard. I’m planning on exploring worm and trench composting. For now it’s going in my DIY mini compost bin so I don’t have to go to the garden in the rain.
UPDATE: The mini compost bin handles some kitchen scraps and debris from the deck planters. I began a garbage can scrapper in the garden that is taking care of the kitchen scraps now. Worms and vermicomposting are still in the plans.
An in home recycle bin – I found that the key to this system is to make sure it is clearly marked so my family has no doubt about what goes into it. I took an old, under the sink garbage can and wrote the recycling rules on it.
There is a recycling depot in my town, so once the bin gets full I just need to go and dump it. The rules, for my center are pretty simple; all plastic, paper and metal goes together in the same same dumpster. No sorting necessary! Call your local garbage hauler and find out of there is a recycling depot near you and what the rules are. The depot is centrally located so I’m not spending any additional gas money going there.
UPDATE: We’re not throwing the material away, but it is proving harder to get to the recycle depot that I thought it would. Consequently, the recycling piles up in the laundry room.
PIX from June
The solution: Well, aside from getting another family member to do the deed for me, I guess I need a better reminder to take it weekly! I have definitely have recycling center blindness, so several reminders are planned…a weekly reminder in my online calendar and a BIG note on the back door.
A separate paper collection area – My home office has always had a paper recycling tub and shredder. I use a heavy duty paper box and keep it under the desk. I’m looking for ways to use the paper and keep it out of recycling. For now it’s going in my compost bin as “brown” materials, its being added to the woodstove as a fire starter and I’m saving some to make a big batch of homemade paper this summer.
UPDATE: This system is working great. I use the shredded paper in the kitchen scrap composter and find that I am always in need of shredded paper. Barely any of this is going to the recycling center (well, when I go anyway!)
A separate glass collection container – The only sorting I have to do at the depot is for glass. I like to use glass containers for craft items and for leftovers, so I reuse a lot of them in my house. The rest go to recycling. Yep: working good.
A small under the sink garbage can – This collects the plastic bags and paper that can’t be recycled. After one month on this system, I have the garbage narrowed down to one small grocery size bag a week. We are currently burning this and it is amazing how everything comes packaged in plastic these days! I am actively looking for ways to stop bringing this into our house.
UPDATE: Continuing to reduce the amount of plastic coming into our house. I purchased some small mesh bags with a drawstring top to take to the grocery with me. Now I don’t use plastic for produce. I also keep a supply of paper and cloth bags in my trunk. I expect reducing the amount of plastic coming into our house will be an ongoing battle.
Finally, pop and water bottles are worth money! Oregon has a .05 cent deposit on each pop and water bottle purchased. I have previously set these out to be collected by the garbage hauler – but no more! I used our old garbage can and made it the new “bottle collection area.” Now, once the can is full, I will take them to the store and reclaim the money. As a matter of fact, I should probably factor that into my yearly savings.
UPDATE: It was a good idea any way! I need to set up a the old garbage can again, it got used for composting yard debris and now the bottles are going into the recycling system, not back to the store. I know, I know…wasting money. Small steps I guess.
There a still a few items that I can’t recycle, compost or burn. My husband has permission to dump a small bag of garbage at his workplace each week. So far, it consists of items like butane lighters and ham bones.
UPDATE: I am pleased (and somewhat surprised) to say that we have not had to send many bags to the work garbage can. I would say only four bags in the last 6 months. I think that’s pretty good for a beginning recycling system.
Yes, I dumped my garbage service and saved $312 a year. It is certainly worth the effort and one we will continue to do. What about you, would you dump your garbage service to save $26 a month?
Shared with: Happy Healthy Green & Natural –
I live in a rural area, and the dump is about 8 miles away. I have NEVER had garbage service. I sort all my waste into 6 categories: compost, paper, cardboard, glass ( usually I keep this for use, as I don’t keep anything in plastic), plastic and metal ( aluminum, tin, cans, etc.).
Unfortunately, I do have to totally sort my items. plastic milk jugs and juice jugs are also sorted separately. There is also a different ‘pile’ for those wax coated paper containers like almond milk comes in…. But I feel that it is well worth the time, trouble and space to do this. It is good for landfills and the environment, and I save SO MUCH money!
I don’t buy pop or soda, so have very little in the way of return refunds. No beer, either, but our state is upping the list of refundable containers, so, who knows, maybe in the future I will get that income also…
I work for the USPS, so I see those garbage bills, as they usually come as a simple post card, and see the amounts people are paying for this. You’d be astounded at the amounts!!!
I recently took my small kitchen table and now use it as a kitchen island, so the area underneath is a great place for the bins I use for sorting. Outside, I have several garbage cans lined with those lawn/leaf bags, which I reuse until I can’t anymore, and the bins from the kitchen go into the proper garbage cans. When the bags are full, I remove and set aside and when I have enough garbage and recycle to fill the back of the pickup, off to the dump I go, usually about 4 times a year. I get a small discount for recycling on my dump fee.
I also have several actual garbage cans that I fill. I re-use plastic grocery bags, and a very few store bought plastic garbage bags, then fill the garbage cans with the garbage can liners, so everything is bagged several times, and since I compost, not much “smelly” stuff goes into them, so I can save up 6-7 without things getting really bad odor wise.
This system works for me, and I’ve been using it since I moved to my 5 acre ’homestead’ about 12 years ago.
Oh, just FYI: the paper and plastic that meat comes in, if you rinse WELL until all the blood is gone, won’t smell NEARLY as much, so you can have it in your garbage cans a long time before things get really nasty! Also, rinse everything well and the smell will not be bad at all.
Thanks for the great article!
Deborah Davis says
It is so inspiring to read your real life experiences with regards to eliminating your garbage service by recycling and reducing waste. I am delighted that you shared these helpful tips with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and
Natural Party Blog Hop! We appreciate it!
We are not allowed to burn in our county. 🙁 We recycle glass, cans, paper and plastic that is ok to recycle. The plastic bags, few & far, are used over for other things. some bathroom waste, etc. If we could burn, it would cut down on a lot more. We do what we can.
T. Huffman says
Garbage pickup is REQUIRED in our county. It runs about $150 per year and is not optional. We do, however, compost, burn some paper in our buck stove and trash pile, and we use as little plastic as possible. Doesn’t save money but is better for the environment. Ironically, we just got notice our landfill is at capacity and they are having to add onto it. Would be much better if they allowed people to opt out altogether.
Myra Dyer says
So great tips! My sister and I are making our first steps at recycling and your advises and ideas seem to be very helpful for us. I’m definitely showing her your post. Thank you for sharing! Greets, Myra 🙂
Excellent Article!! I came across your blog, and here I find the information about Set Up a Home Compost and Recycle System. It’s very inspiring idea and information. Thanks for sharing.
We have garbage pick up, as well as recycle and compost pickup curbside where I live. We generally only put out our compost only in the spring and fall when there’s lots of stuff I don’t want in our personal compost pile (or when we trim hedges, as they take too long to decompose in our home compost), otherwise all our kitchen scraps and yard waste goes into our home compost!! We generally take about 3 weeks to fill up our recycling cart (it’s huge), and then we put it out. Garbage cart? Yesh, we put it out because it gets stinky, not because it’s full!! If we can stretch it out to 3-4 weeks we’re doing pretty good (it’s better in the winter when it freezes, LOL). We buy in bulk, eat very little convenience food, and buy used when we can, so there’s not a lot of packaging that goes into the trash. We also cloth diaper, which saves a HUGE amount of trash. We’re a family of 7, including baby. It amazes me how my neighbours can put out a full/overflowing cart of TRASH every single week!!