Once A Month Garbage — An Update

by Katy on November 2, 2008 · 9 comments


I wrote last month about how my family switched from a weekly 32-gallon garbage pick-up to monthly 20-gallon service. 

I was nervous that this experiment might be a bust, and I would be stuck with a stinky, fly infested can mocking my high-falutin’ ideals.

Such was not the case. Although, this would probably be more of an issue in the heat of summer.

I’m lucky to live in a city (Portland, Oregon) that wholly supports recycling efforts. There’s curbside service for all types of paper, aluminum, steel, glass, #’s 2 and 5 plastic and any plastic container with a neck. 

We’re also mad composters. And despite it being a supposed no-no, I started putting bread and pasta into the compost. There was not a sudden influx of rodentia, as was my fear.

We don’t have a sink disposal, so we end up throwing away a small amount of dairy and meat. But really though, the Waste-No-Food challenge has cut our food wastage dramatically. 

Our garbage this month consisted of bones, some ruined and non-recyclable wrapping paper, kitty litter, styrofoam meat trays, candy wrappers, (a Halloween related blip) and non-compostable food waste.

I did end up taking out the kitchen garbage when the small can was only about a third full because of stank issues, so I went through more can liners (grocery store bags) than I expected. 

I know this accomplishment pales when compared to the efforts of others. But I’m still really proud. This was not my primary focus for the month, and I put next to no effort into the challenge.

How much garbage is your family producing each month? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

thepennypincher November 2, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Why are you putting bread and pasta in the composter? If you are following the waste-no-food challenge, these should not be going into the composter 😉


Meg November 3, 2008 at 2:16 am

We’ve put the occasional bit of meat or dairy into our compost without problems. I’ve never even heard of not putting in bread or pasta. We’ve been cutting down on our food waste, but we try to compost everything else. After all, is it really that wasteful if it’s ‘recycled’ into new food?

We’re pretty big into composting. We don’t use paper towels much at all, but those that do get used also get put into the compost, along with some other paper products that we’re confident about composting (i.e. no harmful inks, no plastic coating, etc.). And — while many people do have strong opinions against it — you might consider compostable kitty litter. I looked into it myself and I’m pretty sure that the chance of catching anything from well-composted housecat manure is a lot less than the chance of catching something from direct contact with the cats. (Alas, only one of our cats likes pine litter.)

After composting, recycling, freecycling, and just generally cutting back on purchases, we’ve cut our regular garbage output down over 50%. We have about a 30 gallon trash can that we used to fill weekly until it was overflowing (and then sometimes we’d drop off extra garbage). Now, we can usually go two weeks or more between garbage pickups — and we have a roommate with part custody of a four-year-old. Fortunately, our roommate is also fairly green-minded. The worst garbage for us is probably work-related since my husband gets a lot of packages. We recycle what we can, but some of the packaging is just crazy.


Mrs Green November 3, 2008 at 5:21 am

that’s very cool. I’d like to know more about the bones / carcass issue – are you telling me you’re able to keep one for a month without any smell / infestation? That’s amazing; I’m just not sure we could manage that. What sort of temperatures do you have over there?
I think you should feel really proud of your efforts; just imagine if everyone produced as little as you 🙂

Well done!


deanna November 3, 2008 at 8:18 am

I’m in CT where they don’t pick up compost, and because of my dogs, I had a hard time doing a compost pile in my backyard. So now I worm compost. I bought a container (the can-o-worms) made of 100% recycled plastic, and started off with a pound of red wigglers. I put in about 2 pounds of organic materials per week, stuff that would otherwise go into the trash can. And these worms will eat anything…as long as it’s organic. No meat or dairy though, as that does attract rodents and can increase the smell factor. But otherwise, it’s a great system (I keep it in my basement to avoid extreme temps) and leaves me with really rich fertilizer (worm poop is like steroids for plants). Check out this helpful website if you’re interested: http://vermicomposters.ning.com/


thenonconsumeradvocate November 3, 2008 at 8:59 am

Penny Pincher,

In response to why am I composting bread and pasta if we are not wasting food?

Sometimes the sandwiches I pack in the kids’ lunches come home only partially eaten.

Or they only eat part of a piece of toast.

Or a plate of pasta by a guest (a kid) is not completely finished.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


thepennypincher November 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Okay, that explains it. I confess that I am one to eat left-overs, even those that are not my own. I would be the dad eating the kids’ half-eaten sandwiches 🙂


thenonconsumeradvocate November 3, 2008 at 2:48 pm

I do eat the leftovers. (My lunch today was some crust from a calzone and most of a piece of chicken.) But I draw the line at deli meat sandwiches that have been left out at room temperature for extended periods.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl November 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm

There have been several garbage mornings recently where it’s suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t taken the trash out, and I’m filled with panic. Then I remember that there is next to nothing in the can, and that it’s no big deal to wait until the next trash pick up.

Composting and cutting down on food waste is what’s done it for us. That, and I potty trained my last kiddo! lol


misslynar November 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Just thought I ‘d pass along a new thing that I have been trying since I am trying to take plastic out of our lives. Much like yourself we recycle, compost our lawn waste and food scraps and now I line the trash can with newspaper. There is nothing in our trash guidelines from the city that says we can’t and it keeps me diligent about recycling and composting, just thought I would pass it on.


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