Trash Talk — Two Families, Every-Other-Week Pickup. Can We Make it Work?

by Katy on October 31, 2011 · 38 comments

My family has made a number of garbage pickup changes over the past few years. First we went from a weekly 32-gallon can to a weekly 20-gallon can. (32-gallons is the standard size.) Then we went from weekly 20-gallon to monthly 32-gallon. This was not a problem in terms of having enough room, but the stench from monthly garbage pickup was nasty, nasty, nasty! (The ammonia scent from cat litter plus occasional shrimp or crab shells was vomit-inducing, especially in the summer months.) We finally made the jump over the summer to sharing a weekly 32-gallon garbage pickup with our next door neighbors. This served to save both of us money, and solved the stank issue associated with once-a-month garbage. There’s now seven of us sharing a single garbage pickup, and that even includes a still-diapered two year old.

Problem solved, right?

Nope. Because the city of Portland just switched over to curbside compost collection, which is great. And even though I already have two compost bins for leaves and veggie and fruit scraps, the curbside collection will allow for all food waste. So that last bit of ignored cottage cheese, bones and seafood shells can finally get composted instead of tossed.

However, garbage service is about to switch from weekly to every-other-week to allow for the extra expense of citywide food composting.


Can two households share every-other-week service? The neighbor’s daughter is mid-potting training, so their garbage output is soon to dramatically decrease.

Last night was the last weekly garbage pickup, so I made sure to stuff any and all miscellaneous garbage into the can. In went all the dryer lint, the old furnace filter and everything from the small wastebaskets throughout the house. (That normally get emptied every month or so.)

Sharing garbage service not only saves us money, but also keeps us from producing too much garbage.

Do you go a non-traditional route when it comes to your garbage pickup? Please share your trash talk in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheryl October 31, 2011 at 7:37 am

We share with our neighbors–3 women, 2 teenage girls, 3 indoor cats, 1 dog and 1 hedgehog. We have a 32 gallon trash can that’s been picked up weekly–until now (we’re in Portland as well.) It will be interesting to see how this works out for us. As you mentioned, I’m most worried about the poop-stink from all of those animals. This winter will be tolerable, but by next summer….ugh–I don’t even want to think about it!


Diane C October 31, 2011 at 7:38 am

Dang, Katy, where I live, sharing service among neighbors is not allowed. Nor is less than once-a-week pickup. Half the time I’m away on business, so my cans don’t get out much. A friend lives in another city, but drives past my house to the train station every day. She cancelled her trash service completely (also not “allowed”, but harder to monitor). Now she stops at my house, puts the cans out (with her trash inside) and puts them away on her way home if I’m not in town. I’m not saving any cash, but my trash is at least going out every week. The cans are much happier with their improved social life! BTW, neither of us have pets or mates and all of my veg. waste goes into my neighbor’s compost bin. This could be one of the frugal hacks that’s actually easier for single folks.


Katy October 31, 2011 at 8:12 am

Not sure if sharing service is allowed, but I’m doing it anyway.



Karen October 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Our city in N. Caifornia doesn’t allow us to NOT have our own service, and it must be once a week service. Very annoying, since even when our one 32 gallon garbage cart includes the garbage from our rental cottage in back, our two households do not add up to more than half a can each week, so we could easily survive on every other week pick up. I wonder how it is that the city can dictate our use…


Lisa Under the Redwoods October 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Karen, we are in Northern California and face the same issue. The best we could do was lower our can size to 20 gallons which is the smallest they will charge for.


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi October 31, 2011 at 7:55 am

We don’t have choices here either 🙁 We have alleys in our neighborhood, so we all share a large can that gets picked up once a week. We also have individual recycling bins that are collected once a week…no choice about that 🙁


Linda October 31, 2011 at 7:57 am

We have weekly garbage pick up and recycling every other week. We do not pay extra for either service, it is included in our taxes. We only put out about a half can of garbage. All of it gets burned at the local plant for electricity.

Some people would rather pay for garbage pick up instead of in their taxes but I have found that the taxes don’t go down. Instead, they go up or stay the same and then on top of that, you have to pay for bags or service.


Shelley October 31, 2011 at 8:12 am

We do not. It’s not really an option as the trash bill is part of our property tax here in England. We could easily combine, though, as we put our vegetable waste into a compost bin (which we use on our veg and flower gardens, and fill the recycling with: glass, paper, metal, plastic and textiles. There’s not much left for the regular trash after that! If we had a bigger garden, they would give us yet another trash bin (making it 3!) for just grass and tree clippings…


Elaine October 31, 2011 at 8:16 am

The small city I live in contracts with 3 different trash companies, and everyone can select their own. Mine recently switch to the gigantic bins that the truck picks up and empties. I live alone with 2 dogs, and I generally have 1 large wastebasket bag of garbage. We have a recycling center, but no pick up. I actually take my recycling to a neighboring city that the local AARP chapter runs. They donate most of the money they get to organizations in the community, so I like helping them.

The large city I used to live in had municipal curbside pickup for both garbage and recycling (our tax dollars at work!). It was very easy, but there were still a lot of people who wouldn’t sort the recycling from the garbage.


Debbie October 31, 2011 at 8:26 am

I live in an area that offers weekly pickup privately but you can also take the garbage and recyclables to them when needed. We go about every 3-4 weeks – no pets, or young kids and we have a compost heap and garbage disposal so smells aren’t bad. Cost is much cheaper – recyclables are free and zero sort.


Thrifty Household October 31, 2011 at 8:32 am

We have 3 bins, a green one for all food/compostable wast, a blue one for paper, glass, tins, plastic bottles, a black one for household rubbish. They are collected every other week (alternating green & blue with black). We’ve opted for the smallest bins we can have (half size bins), there are only 2 of us in the house but we rarely fill any of the bins. The green one does smell a bit in the summer…


min hus October 31, 2011 at 8:40 am

We don’t have a choice here either. Unless you can prove you’re not living in your home, we are required to pay for weekly trash pickup. We have no compost/yard waste or recycling pickup service. Our neighborhood just got a price on adding recycling and yard waste pickup for an extra $1.25/week and people are FREAKING out about the cost, saying it’s way too high. This has given me even less hope that our nation will change our environment-destructing behaviors. *sigh*


Dogs or Dollars October 31, 2011 at 8:56 am

We recently down graded to a 10 gallon tote for our weekly garbage service. Its wee! Made me nervous at first that it wouldnt be big enough. Thus far, 2 months in, no problems! Our little tote in conjunction with every other week recycle works no problem.

I am always oh so happy to see that tiny box at the end of my driveway.


whislerpotpie October 31, 2011 at 9:29 am

I’m so glad people are posting the different options in their areas – at first I wondered if I was just not making enough of an effort!

We started composting this year and our trash has gone way down.

Trying to switch from paper towels to microfiber cloths next…I need to hide the paper towels to force me to use the microfiber!


Bellen October 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

Our garbage & recycling is included in our taxes – $148.04 per year, just got the tax bill. Pickup was reduced to once per week when the recycling was added. We can also put out yard waste, we get a large decal to put on our own garbage can, and have bulky waste, like furniture or appliances, picked up 6 times per year thru a phone call to the waste hauler. This is absolutely a tremendous deal compared to what we had to pay in CT $25 per month in 2006 and you know it’s gone up since then., unless we took all our waste to the dump – a 30 mile round trip.

To combat the smell from garbage I freeze meat waste like fat, bones and wrappers, and put it in the can when we put them out. As there are 3 adults in our home it doesn’t amount to much. For regular kitchen & bath waste I put a few drops of citronella essential oil in the bottom of the bag – covers up most odors.

With the extensive waste/recycling/yard waste pickup we have not had to take anything to the dump in the 7 years we’ve lived in FL.
We compost, reuse, repurpose, donate, sell and simply don’t buy much to reduce our waste.

I don’t know if petitioning the local government to increase waste pickup or recycling is helpful anymore – maybe collecting info from neighboring communities and presenting would be easier and more persuasive.


Donna October 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

In Hawaii, we have twice-weekly curbside garbage pickup costing $108 every 6 months. I wish we could reduce it to once per week and pay less since we don’t generate very much trash. For recycling, we bring it to a recycling center 5 minutes away.

I often see our neighbor’s trash can on garbage day overflowing with plastic and cardboard waste. Such a shame since there’s always talk about caring for the aina (Hawaiian for land).


Mary Stubblefield October 31, 2011 at 11:38 am

do you not compost the lint from your dryer? I was told it was compostable? I have started to that…it may not be much, especially since you hang dry alot but still every bit helps.


Linda October 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I have not put my lint in the compost because I don’t think the man-made fibers will decompose. Cotton, yes, wool (I don’t own much), yes, but not polyester.


Sunny October 31, 2011 at 11:43 am

We share with our neighbors, in Salem, Oregon. We have the smallest can. The garbage and green bin (which since this summer has included all scraps, paper towels, pizza boxes, etc) get picked up every week. Our problem is the huge blue recycling bin only gets picked up every other week 🙂 Sometimes, it’s really full. So far it’s worked out well (last 2-3 years). No money is typically exchanged. They shop for us at Costco (only a few things I want from there) and we take it off of their bill!


Rebecca B. A. R. October 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I remember my co-worker telling me that their neighbor had cancelled her trash pick (since she only produced a tiny bag every week) and started putting in my co-worker’s trash (with her permission). Here in Ohio, you either get trash pick-up service or don’t get it at all where we live. Anyhow, the trash company ended up contacting my co-worker and saying that they were going to start charging them double if they continued to allow their neighbor to put her trash in with theirs, b/c she had stopped paying them–I guess they had found something in the trash with her neighbor’s information on it. Don’t you just love it when companies don’t let you save?!?


Jenn H October 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I have been thinking about this a lot lately & have decided to cancel our service. The weekly recycling pick up is “free” (I’m sure my taxes are paying for it) but trash is a contractor service. I think I’m going to just take it to the dump & save $30/mth. The service price has gone up about 50% in the past 2 years & the amount of trash we are producing has gone down by at least that much (between the recycling & composting) so I think this will be manageable. Even if it doesn’t work out long term I figure hauling my own trash will make me more aware of what we produce & that can only be a good thing!


Annie October 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

No choice here. If you live in the city limits, weekly trash pickup is automatically added to the water/sewer bill. We also compost and recycle, so often there is only one lonely bag of trash in our can.


Indigo October 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm

The trash bill is automatically added as part of the water bill here. My trash bin goes out every week but it is rarely even a quarter full. The recycling is taken up every other week and will be full for the next long while since I’m gathering all these plastic plant pots that were left by the previous owners.

I have a compost so that helps and the cat uses the dog door and just goes outside. Except during the coldest part of winter when I put up a litter box.


Kayla K October 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

No, we pay flat rate trash and also have to buy “city approved” bags. 🙁


Kate October 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

That totally sucks!


Linda October 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm

where I live garbage service is optional. I live by myself, I went from weekly pick-up to monthly service with recycling pick-up every other week. My friend who doesn’t have service at all uses my can for what little trash she generates and in a months time the two of us rarely fill a garbage can. When I have smelly gargage I throw it in the dumpster at work.


Lauras Last Ditch - Adventures in Thrift Land October 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm

First of all, we produce hardly any trash.

Our city has city trash tags that cost $1.75 each (or $2, or $2.50? I don’t know, because we’ve never bought one, though I’ve read about price increases in the paper). When I see something I think someone would want and it has a trash tag affixed, I trash-pick it, then either donate it, keep it, sell it, or put it by my own curb. I keep the trash tag and use it for my own garbage.

The city will be going to cart-only soon, though, so I’m thinking we can ask our elderly neighbor if we can take her trash to the curb for her, in trade for putting our own trash in. Seriously, though, we produce about one small grocery bag of trash every month or two, so we might just save it up for the whole year and take it to the neighborhood Dumpster day, when you can dump things free.


Lauras Last Ditch - Adventures in Thrift Land October 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Oh–and furnace filters: you might want to look into reusable ones if you haven’t already.


Kate October 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Trash pickup is WAAY too expensive here so we don’t have it, we just haul it to our in-laws house. We tried sharing with a neighbor but they were not interested, bummer.


Kate October 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm

And I wouldn’t of even THOUGHT to ask to share if not for your blog! 🙂


Gregory October 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Our garbage pickup is paid through our taxes. I had never heard of contracting out garbage pickup until now! We have weekly service, including recycling of all paper, plastic, glass and cans, plus “Organics” which includes all food and pet waste, small branches and plant material but not grass clippings. We produce very little garbage but I always seem to have a lot of recycling every week.


pat November 1, 2011 at 4:48 am

I live in Michigan and, at least in my area, trash service is not included in our taxes. I compost as much as possible and recycle twice a week (since I pass by the recycle station daily). We got rid of our paid garbage service 3 years ago and haven’t looked back. We live fairly close to the county transfer station and take over 1 small bag of actual trash monthly. We even include the teeny tiny bag my daughter generates at her own home in our bag. Luckily our town is very proactive in recycling and accepts all types of plastic. Glass, cardboard, paper, etc. It is a wonderful service. There are also locations that accept used motor oil, batteries. And twice a year there is an e-cycle event where residents can bring their old electronics. All of this is cost-free to us so I figure the companies who pick up this stuff must be making money on it somewhere and I’m pretty glad.


Ann November 1, 2011 at 8:23 am

We have a 3 can weekly city pickup. No choices except to pay extra if you have the need for a second can …we have a large lot, so we have 2 green “yard waste” bins. Our only option is to NOT put the recycling bin out until it is full…I guess that helps with the gas on the trucks. I wish we had more options on Large items, or a recycling area (my brother lived in Wellesley, MA and they had a fantastic dump…with even a freecycle area), but the City of Los Angeles is a big place with small expectations of its citizenry.


Kate B. November 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

We cancelled ours and take it to my dad’s house once a week. We checked with the borough and found out that their is only once size can and the fee is the same no matter what. Since my dad rarely has more than one bag of trash, we share with him. The borough he lives in (we’re in southeastern PA) doesn’t care “as long as the lid closes.” My husband drops our recycling off at a free local recycling center once a week. We’ve really cut the cost!


Stacy S November 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

I’m in Canada, in a suburb near Toronto, and we don’t pay fees for garbage collection (although I know it is paid for by way of taxes). We have weekly garbage pick up with a 2 bag maximum (and bulky things any time). We also have weekly recycling and compost (aka green bin) pick up. And yard waste is picked by from April til November. We have lots of local drop off stations for hazardous waste and e-waste (free of charge). It’s interesting to read about other cities and how things are done!!


Mel November 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

We don’t really have a choice regarding trash pickup as it is bundled with our water/sewer bill…I wish we did have a choice as we don’t have much trash between composting, recycling (which thankfully is pickup up weekly along with the trash) and minimizing our purchases (most of which come from thrift stores to begin with).

Regarding your situation I say, “Give it a try!” Worst case scenario you might have to change again.


Janie February 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for the post! I really like your idea, I really wish the trash company would pick up “on-demand”.

I am thinking about starting a trash pickup share group in Arvada Co. The idea would be that you can split the trash bill with your neighbors….even if you don’t know them or are an introvert, it would still work. Kind of like Uber, but for trash pick-up.

You can check it out:




Jake October 24, 2018 at 4:06 pm

I’m still on the fence when it comes to trash services. Should local companies privatize it or should the city take care of it? In many cases, the local companies do a pretty good job. I’ve also wondered how it would work with the town including trash services in the city taxes. So many ideas’ such little time!


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