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Reducing Household Garbage

Aside from eating less (therefore less garbage from food packages), recycling a few cans I rinse out and an occasional clean empty jar saved for some other use, what are ways to recycle, reuse, and reinvent some of the packaging items so they don't end up in the garbage?


I moved to the country so I can have a "burn pit" or "burn barrel". I have been buying much less food stuffs. Everyone else out here subscribes to the $25 a month garbage pick-up service, which so far I have been able to get by without. I make at least one trip to town a week (if not more) and take my little garbage with me.

I also keep my bag of trash as small as I can so I can toss it in the car wash bin or sometimes when I stop for gas I leave a small trash sack in the gas station barrel. My friend thinks thats just terrible saying "they have to pay for that service so you shouldn't do that !" but when I am a customer there it is you or I they pay for it on behalf of so I use it! It has never been a HUGE kitchen bag full, only small shopping sacks so I feel I am not doing wrong.

I am always on the lookout for more creative ways to use my trash items to give them a second chance before giving up on them. I never have minded reusing things around the house or giving them away, not everyone recycles. So I am wondering what you do in similar circumstances.

Campers also sometimes have this same dilemma. If they pay a camping fee of some sort as I have done in the past or a maintenance fee for a camping club as I also have done, then the trash pick-up is paid for them as a part of their stay. What do you think?

melody_yesterday from Otterville, MO

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January 21, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Recycle everything possible! Plastic liter bottles (actually, plastic of every kind is now being taken in my area of Texas), aluminum cans, metal cans, glass, newspapers, junk mail, etc. Recycling costs way less than using raw materials to make new things. Think of creative ways to "repurpose" things before they end up in the recycle bin: use greeting cards for new cards, tags, placemats, doorknob hangers, boxes, etc. Use cereal boxes for purses. Fill plastic liter bottles with things you can mail to friends. A wealth of ideas can make repurposing fun and creative!

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January 21, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I don't know how you handle Christmas, but I would suggest your gifts be hand made or something you have baked like cookies. You could wrap them in the leftover cereal type boxes. If you don't give to family, how about giving to a homeless shelter or senior home, etc. I reuse paper towels that I put in freezer bags that I have washed out. The towel absorbs the water in the bag. It will dry out and can be put in another bag to absorb moisture again.

I reuse the black containers from Lean Cuisine meals for other meals I have made ahead. I put the container in a quart size freezer bag, perfect fit, and freeze. Can fix meals for this purpose or store leftovers for future use. Do not use the bags with the tab you slide across, use the ones you have to close yourself.

My homeworker and I made hamburger helper on our weekly cooking day, and got three containers to freeze. I see nothing wrong using the container at a gas station, people clean out their cars and put stuff in them. If you used a neighbors container, it would be different. I for one appreciate all the efforts you do to recycle, wish more people were that thoughtful.

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January 21, 20090 found this helpful
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I mean these comments in a nice way. If everyone dumped their small bags of trash at retail locations - or anywhere except the dump. Think how expensive it would be for the retailers? What right do any of us have to place our trash in gas stations, malls, whatever? I have a friend who also does this & justifies it in her own mind, but it offends me.

A gas station does not owe you trash dumping services. Also, as an allergy sufferer, I do not like trash pit or barrel burning. It is an air pollutant for everyone, & particularly bad for allergy, & breathing problem sufferers as well as others. What you have is a miniature "dump" with burning wastes. When I lived in the South, many people had trash burning. It made my breathing miserable as well as polluted air for everyone. Just my thoughts.

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January 21, 20090 found this helpful
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I understand about taking trash elsewhere, especially if one's circumstances prevent being able to afford a trash service. I've been there. I would recycle as much as possible - tin cans (lids can be removed from both ends and can smashed), plastic bottles, glass jars, paper. Garbage can be buried in the back yard/garden. For the small amount that you take into the service station - I really wouldn't worry about it. As far as the burn pile - fire reduces everything to its original elemental state, and living in the country - there are very few people who are going to be affected by whatever pollutants that might be produced - they'll probably dissipate by the time it reaches town.

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January 18, 20090 found this helpful

For items like milk jugs and cereal boxes, try advertising them on or on the free craiglist. Many people use them, especially gardeners and teachers, and may be grateful to get them!

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January 18, 20090 found this helpful

jmz2005 :

i really like the insulating the dog house idea & will try the mousepad thing --

i made a footstool from dinnerplate sized recycled cardboard box circles stacked about 18" high & covered -- secure sections of the circles (i did 5 sections up in tape) or they will slide every which way

Ree 127 : i like the seedlings idea too - but i have cut back to only buying 1/2 gal jugs of milk at a time since it is only me drinking it -- would still be ok for plants though too

camo_angels :

another good idea! thanks

thanks everyone !

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January 22, 20090 found this helpful

I have to agree with Mulberry204. I'm an allergy sufferer, too, and smoke from burning trash makes my allergies even worse. Also, while burning trash in the country might not affect those nearby, it still affects the ozone layer.

May I suggest Freecycle? There are groups in a lot of places you wouldn't expect, we even have one in my small city. I'm currently collecting our empty egg cartons and whatever else I can think of, and post once I have an amount someone else might be able to use.

Since you're already recycling, I know your used jars would be clean. I've seen "wanted" posts on my Freecycle group for empty boxes, and a variety of things. If it's clean and reusable, it's Freecyclable.

For info and to see if there's a group near you, go to

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January 18, 20090 found this helpful

I am trying to reduce my garbage from my household. Two big fillers are milk jugs and flat cardboard boxes (ie, cereal and pop boxes). Anybody have any great ideas for recycling them. Our city doesn't recycle.



Reducing Household Garbage

Milk Jugs: If you have a large freezer, you can store water in them for emergency situations, and helps increase the efficiency of your freezer. Plus if your water pump goes out on your car, you'll have a big supply of cold water; still fresh in my mind. We also use them for mixing large amounts of juice concentrate for picnics or at home, holding motor oil, when we change the oil and the baby loves to run off with them and hit his big brother!

The flat cardboard boxes you can use for shipping or storing fragile items in larger boxes. If you have can redemption, the pop boxes are great for storing the empties back into and transporting. (07/12/2006)

By camo_angels

Reducing Household Garbage

I have been using a few spare milk jugs to catch water from the sink while waiting for the water to heat up. I use the "recycled" water for pets, watering plants, even filling the clothes washer.

With some jugs, we cut part of the tops off, leaving the handle in tact, and use the jug for storing nails, screws, small tools, just about anything that will fit. It can also be used for lugging water around the house for small cleaning jobs, such as, baseboards, light switch plates, door knobs, etc. (07/13/2006)

By Ree 127

Reducing Household Garbage

I just recently used milk jugs with the spout cut off, but leaving the handle intact, to temporarily pot some tree seedlings. The trees will eventually go into the ground, but needed a home until then. I also use them for used motor oil.

I use old cereal boxes in many crafts. I use them to make smaller gift boxes and cover them with nice paper or paint.

You could see if any churches or schools in your area could use either material for crafts! (07/14/2006)

By Marisa

Reducing Household Garbage

I always break down the boxes and fold them to fit in the garbage bag, and with milk jugs, I rinse them out and "smash" them. Less wasted space in garbage bags. (07/15/2006)

By jmz2005

Reducing Household Garbage

Reuse is your key to create less trash! Once you reuse a say a milk jug for something else you in-turn save the material, energy, and money it would take to create that item.

When you do your trash make sure it is as small and flat as possible, less as much of the air as it can possibly be. You even get an exercise benefit by doing that. Try cutting both lids off the tin cans if you must throw them away, then the squeezing or flattening them.

Plastic soda bottles? There are probably thousands of reuse possibilities for plastic bottles. They are next to impossible to recycle, so again if you must throw them out you have differant venues you can use. Flatten them with your feet. I once cut up an uncounted number of 20 oz plastic bottles into tiny little pieces and funneled them all into a 2-litre plastic bottle then capped it. On that alone I probably saved 2 whole trash bags and I occupied myself for hours.

I also have stuffed vast amounts of trash into one 2 litre bottle. One time a whole waste can full.

Garbage, well there is always composting or donating your left overs to a farmer .

I guess you know about the crafts you can do with those meat styrofom platters? Oh, I once used many of those platters piled together in a certain number to help insulate my dogs house. I simply built two walls all around and stuck those clean meat trays inside with some old plastic covering. Shep never complained.

Then you have your detergent and other bottles. Yes, you can reuse some of them, but you are better off trying alternative safer cleaning products. You can find them on here and on Frugal. The funny part, most of these alternatives are even cheaper and are multi-use. Will they clean as good? We don't even know what harm, say using a chemical detergent does to our bodies over a long period of time, so you miight consider this aspect when you try alternatives.

What is left? Paperboard cereal boxes. Well I am right now trying to make up a list of 100 alternative reuses of these things. At least they are biodegradable and as far as I know the printing inks aren't too bad on the environment.

I just happened to look at what I use for a mouse pad. It is just one panel of an Eggo Waffle box. I have had it here for at least 2 years and it still works. Less trouble with my mouse. I think I have had to clean it once. So there is at least 1 part of 1 EGGO Waffle box that hasn't hit the landfill yet, and when it does it will be torn into very small pieces.

Trash Today, Reuse it Tomorrow and Save Money, Time And Energy.

Click. I guess my mouse agrees.
I Wish You Less Trash.

Mr Thrifty

By Mr. Thrifty

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