TL;DR (a bit of an anecdote ahead): reduce trash through a healthy combination of composting + elimination + freezing non-compostable food scraps.
How often do you take out your trash? If you’re a single person maybe once a week? A family, maybe two times or more? It may not seem like much, but that adds up. If you’re putting out two bags a week, some simple math would tell us that’s over 100 bags of trash per year! To put that into further context, the EPA reported that in 2013 the average American was producing over 4 pounds of trash per person per day (linked below). Do you want to start limiting your waste production? I have some helpful tips for you!
I take my trash out about once every month and a half (or two months). I only started this about 3 months ago so I’ve taken out 1 bag and I’m about to take out another probably right after Mardi Gras is over. When I decided I wanted to pretty severely limit my trash production, I went online and quickly got overwhelmed. Everything was saying “buy this, buy that,” and here I am thinking ‘isn’t that the opposite of the point’? Buying new things I don’t need is definitely not the answer to my issue here. I started simple. I messaged Amazon and said “hey can you stop sending extra packaging in my boxes” (I try to limit my Amazon use but I’m definitely guilty of that), they obliged. Then I took the leap and started composting, which I highly recommend. I was feeling good about my steps until I discovered my largest obstacle: food waste I couldn’t compost.
How long does it take for chicken scraps and bones to start stinking up your tiny apartment? Um... Not long. I felt stuck and decided to take a break from thinking. I did what every adult does, I stood staring into my freezer. My ice cream stared back at me. My ice cube tray stared back at me. My frozen compost scraps stared back at me. Wait a second... That gave me an idea!
What if I froze my non-compostable waste? Then I would just have non-smelly trash in the garbage can and the potential smell makers were chillin’ next to my compost. Then, when the trash can gets almost full, I’ll add in the frozen scraps right before I take it to the curb. I already meal plan to reduce food waste so there wasn’t all that much to freeze, but it was enough to make a difference. I did a little test for a week, checked on my freezer, and it had worked! I realized how often I was taking out my trash not because it was full, but because I didn’t want it to get gross. Once I eliminated the “gross,” the number of times I needed to put my trash out was cut down to a fraction of what it used to be.
Reducing waste can seem difficult and daunting, but even small changes can make a world of a difference. For more information on individual waste production in the U.S., check out the EPA article I cited above and linked below!