Something’s Missing

Usually this scene panics me – I’m leaving for work on a Wednesday morning and notice my neighbors’ empty, blue garbage cans sitting at the end of their driveways, while ours sits full and forgotten in the garage. I then spend the next week kicking myself every time I have to stuff another bag into the now overflowing can.

But this was no ordinary trash day. This time I intentionally left our garbage can in the garage. Why? Because it was only half full. Instead, it was our recycling and compost bins that were overflowing (so much so that we’re actually starting a second compost container).

I know, not earth-shattering news or anything, but it made me realize that our efforts to be more earth-friendly are paying off in some form. Apparently we’ve been able to divert about half of our household waste away from the landfill. We’re a long way from living off the grid, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Have any of you guys experienced a noticable reduction in your household waste? Any other great tips for cutting down even more? Obviously buying things less often and buying in bulk when ya can really help (two things we’re definitely into) but we’re wondering if there are any less obvious trash reducing tips out there. Spill the beans.


  1. says

    When we moved to an area with curbside recycling, we really put forth an effort to recycle everything possible. The city gives us one bin but we could fill up several of them.

    However, now I am noticing a reduction in my recycling pile since I’ve been cooking with less processed items. I recently read an article that said usually the bigger the recycling pile, the less healthy you are probably eating. Interesting. I suppose the bigger your compost pile, the more healthy you are eating. :)

  2. KK says

    We create one bag of trash every two weeks. Everything else is recycling. I’m hoping when we start composting, the amount of trash goes down even more.

    Isn’t it nice not to drag that super bin out to the curb every week?

  3. says

    Thankfully, recycling and trash come each week here. And, I need a bigger recycling can and a smaller trash can. I’m so happy they finally started curbside recycling. I was already recycling paper (to our parish school) and cans (to my pocket), but now I can recycle some plastics.

  4. Paul says

    I cannot tell you how glad I am you haven’t gone off on a political tangent like every other house blogger who thinks they know everthing there is to know about politics. Thank you.

  5. says

    We have always recycled but it wasn’t until we started composting that we really became aware of what and how much we sent off to the landfill. For a family of 4 we have gotten our trash down to 1-2 bags a week. Everyone should compost it’s easy and you get rewarded with free mulch in no time at all. Thanks for the post John.

  6. jbhat says

    Garbage bin: never full.
    Yard waste /compost bin: always full *especially* after all the jack o’lanterns melted.
    Recycling bin: unfortunately, always brimming. We need to make a serious effort to cut back on our purchases that have unnecessary packaging. But part of the problem too, is that my husband has a serious addiction to Vitamin Water (50/50, Revive and Charge), and buys them like crazy. It drives ME crazy. At least those plastic bottles aren’t going into the landfill, but still, it’s just so bad in so many ways.

  7. Dani says

    Lately, my husband and I have been buying our milk from a local dairy. It’s nice to support a local business, but they also use glass bottles that you pay a deposit on and return when you get your next gallon of milk. It’s great because the milk is really fresh and we’re not adding to the trash or recycling. We just give it a quick rinse and then they sanitize before they reuse them at the dairy.

  8. says

    I too have recently experienced the same thing!
    When we lived in our townhouse where there was no recycling pick up or place to compost we were going thru bags of garbage each week. Now that we’ve bought our first home we recycle ALOT and it is SO easy since our city picks it up. I put a second can next to our trash for recycling and we fill it up faster than we fill up trash! Like you our trash is minimal compared to our recycling. Still not perfect bc that is still a lot of disposing of goods BUT at least they will be repurposed instead of filling a landfill.

    { Lindsey }

  9. says

    I am so happy when on trash day I notice how our blue bin(recycling) is FULL and our green bin(trash) is not full. Compared to our neighbors who sometimes have TWO full green bins and 1-2 items in the blue bin. Once I even pulled out something on top of their trash and put it in their blue bin. I mean, hello people, the city makes it so easy for us to recycle, we don’t have to sort or anything!

    One of my next projects is to start a compost bin. Now that our renos are complete I have no excuse!

  10. says

    we’re in the same boat! we actually only take our trash cans to the road every other week when the recycling comes…unless there is something particularly stinky in the trash can and i can’t bear it on the porch!

  11. says

    When our condo unit FINALLY got recycling bins, they are always full, and everyone;s trash has reduced. Yea! We are down to one trash bag every week and a half. As soon as we move out of the city, we will have compost bins; thanks to your efforts in sharing!

  12. YoungHouseLove says

    Well, are we a bunch of recycling-happy people or what? Although I do feel a little late to the compost party- although I’m very happy to be a late arriver!

    Meg, that article you read about recycling = eating bad is probably true. Part of our motivation for starting to compost was to encourage us to eat more fruits & veggies so we actually have stuff to compost! I’d say it’s sort of working, but like others said, our recycling is still catching a good portion of our waste. Reducing that pile is definitely our latest goal.

    Dani, what a cool idea about the local dairy. I’m not sure if we could find that around Richmond, but someone correct me if they know something I don’t. Oh and soymilk would be awesome although I’m sure that’s pushing it…

    Keep up the good work everyone. And for those starting composting bins, let us know how it goes!


  13. says

    I really encourage you to check out the blog I posted this past Monday. I included a picture of what our box looked like after only seven days of gathering recycled goods. It’s insane. We currently live with my future MIL because we are searching for a house, and I know the consuming of such things as the daily newspaper and magazines will not cease for her, but in the meantime while I’m living there I can at least begin to refocus my responsibility back to Earth and hopefully make a lasting impression on her so that when we move out she continues what I’ve started.

  14. Becky says

    Hey guys – that’s great that you were able to do this on your own! We are super lucky because where we live, the city has a “green box” recycling program – that’s right – they provide compost containers and collect it weekly!!! It’s awesome – I live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (woohoo, yeah Canada) which is near Toronto. With 2 adults we usually only have 1 bag of garbage every 2 weeks but our recycling (blue and green) are always chock-full and get collected every week. It would be amazing if every city adopted this! Love your site!

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