Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

December 19, 2014

Trash Talking

I've had to adjust, moving from a city of nearly a million people to a municipality of only a few thousand.  Sure, there's a proper city within an hour's drive but with only about 100,000 residents, it's small potatoes.  I've been meaning to write more about this ongoing transition, but a lot of what I've had to adjust to has turned out to be far more enjoyable than expected, and I've easily slipped into new routines that now seem so comfortable and natural. 

One change still feels kind of weird: dealing with our garbage.  When I hear couples argue about who brought the garbage cans back from the curb, who left the lids off and whose responsibility it is to move those cans twenty feet, I want to knock their heads together.  Hubs and I (although sometimes it's just me), collect, bag and tag our garbage and then drive it many kilometers to our municipal landfill, which has somewhat inconvenient and limited hours.  Each tag costs 50 cents, but we get an annual allotment plus a free bag tag for each bag of recycling we bring in.  It's an open pit landfill, with black bears strolling around.  We stand in the back of our truck and heave our bags so they fly as far as possible into the pit. 


Sometimes it smells, as you might expect, and it's normally super muddy, but in the winter it's not so bad.  At first I was horrified by this process, but now, even though it still feels strange, I've grown to like this household chore and I loiter there more than Hubby would like.  There's something kind of powerful about seeing all of this garbage against a beautiful, rural backdrop.  It's eery and horrifying, but in some ways strangely beautiful.  In the city, folks are so removed from the collective amount of waste produced, thanks to door to door trash collection, but also because the landfill in our nearest city is a giant trash compactor and you don't see anything but a large silver machine.  It seems so neat and tidy.  Here, though, it's just heaped and sometimes the wind takes pieces, obscuring a beautiful landscape.  It makes me really mindful of the garbage we produce.  I hope it's encouraging Hubby and I to produce less waste - we definitely produce less than when we lived in the townhouse.  It certainly makes me think more about garbage.


On an uplifting note, the picking is awesome.  There's a shed for people to leave things for free, and I've scored mittfuls of vintage goodies - incuding turquoise Pyrex (I've left treasures too).  On instagram I hashtag these finds #goodneighbourshed, but I've only shared a few finds.  I've absconded with quite a bit more than I've let on.  I have yet to pluck something from the actual landfill, but there was a box of vintage dishware - just out of reach - that had me thinking about wading in.

The Good Neighbour Shed!

After we moved into the lakehouse, we devised a system for garbage that was not totally unlike what we used before.  In Ottawa we had a garbage bin and then a black bin and blue bin for recycling.  Here we bought a huge new garbage can that holds colossal GLAD bags so we can cram in as much garbage as possible - I really cling to those 50 cent bag tags (could I be any more miserly?).  We bought another huge can for blue bag recycling.  I re-use a carboard box for paper recycling to save a blue bag (miserly!).  Inside the house, a cute aqua bin collects recycling under the kitchen sink, and I bring it outside to sort almost everyday (I try to make trips outside with Szuka fruitful, much to her chagrin - she'd rather we just play).  I haven't really devised a good system for our garbage inside.  Our old step-can was in the way in our small kitchen and so I used a random lid-less can I found in the house, that the old owner's left behind.  I stuffed it underneath the kitchen sink when we were working on the house, and there it stayed.  At one point I used GLAD kitchen catchers but when they ran out, I started stuffing various plastic bags I accumulated into the empty box.  It seemed cheaper, but these bags often leaked and some were a tight fit for the can.


When GLAD offered to send me some product and sponsor a post on trash talking, I was happy for an excuse to ramble on about our landfill and the weirdness of handling our own trash to such an extent, but I was a bit reluctant to use the kitchen catchers.  Surely what I was using was just as good?  And free!  Well, the odor-guard kitchen catchers have sure come along way since I bought my last box.  These new odour-guard bags with Febreeze are fabulous because although they smell perfumed coming out of the box, once they've been in the bin they don't smell flowery.  Instead, they neutralize any odor really well, without just masking it.  It was never atrocious under there because I take the garbage out to garage regularly, but it is garbage so it didn't smell like roses.  After testing these bags for weeks, I don't smell anything!  It just smells clean under the sink - these bags are perfect for use with my open can.  And they fit the can with room to spare - no more leaks thanks to too-tight bags splitting.  I'm sold.


I haven't tried the compostable bags because we don't compost.  Isn't that horrible?  I feel a lot of guilt about that.  I didn't realize until recently that our dump has a compost section.  I thought we had to compost ourselves, and with my lack of interest in gardening, Szuka the digger, and our bear problem, composting seemed like a nightmare.  I'll have to make some room under the sink for a compost pail and start!

This post was sponsored by GLAD and I also received product to try out.  The idea for this post and all words and photos are my own - as is the embarrassment I endured taking photos at the dump.  I wasn't super keen on showing you the under the sink area, because its only redeeming features are that it's clean (go me!) and it boasts a pretty a pretty aqua can (thanks Umbra!).  I have not washi taped or pattern papered anything.  Bad blogger!  While garbage and garbage accoutrements are certainly not the sexiest topics to blog about, particularly in the absence of any beautification, products that make our day to day lives a little nicer are worth their weight in gold! I'm happy for this opportunity to re-think what products I'm using. Maybe getting stuck with my garbage for a month won't be quite so smelly this summer? Stupid landfill hours.
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20 comments

  1. This is pretty interesting! I'm definitely one of those people that whine about dragging our wheeled garbage bin to the sidewalk. I love the idea of the good neighbour shed... I'd probably want to keep everything in there.

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    1. I used to whine, too! Now I fondly remember those days, lol. It was crazy in Ottawa because the garbage collectors would pick up everything - sofas, toilets, crazy reno messes! I would watch on trash day, so excited to see what nuttiness neighbors would leave out. Of course, I was a dummy and rented a truck and went to a landfill with my reno debris. Where I grew up, there was a strict bag limit and my Dad was constantly getting written up for too heavy bags.

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  2. start to compost!!! less into the bag bag! great for the miserly and the environment!

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    1. I will!! I'm pretty proud of how little garbage we produce. Sometimes we don't go for weeks and it's still only one bag. We have never brought in more garbage than recycling. We have a pretty solid two-three bags recycling, one bag garbage ratio. Now to find a pretty aqua compost can...

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  3. We have trash pick up and recycling, but I'm amazed at the amount of trash 2 people can produce when they're trying not to. I accuse the cat of producing some of it.
    We have a local landfill that pays for metal, has dumpsters for cardboad, glass and paper. We try to take some of our stuff there.

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    1. I can definitely see cats contributing greatly to it! Your landfill pays? Wow. Our landfill and the one in the city both accept metal but I think they sell it to maintain the landfill - no cash given.

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  4. You should try composting! It will definitely keep your number of trash bags to a minimum and help to keep your trash from stinking. Our composting system is three part: we have a small lidded pot in the kitchen—we always put a used coffee filter in the bottom so odors are never a problem—which when full we'll empty into a lobster pot we keep in the garage. When the lobster pot gets full it gets emptied into the big compost cage out back. It's been working well, and we've been using the finished compost to plant fruit trees! If you really don't want to deal with composting at home your step three could be to just bring the lobster pot to the dump. It's great that they offer that.

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    1. Thanks Christine! I've wondered how people do it because in Ottawa we had a green bin that we just dumped compost into and the city took it away every week. It was lined with compost-able brown bags. Because the garage was attached, I just put it straight into the garage bin. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for a pretty aqua can for the kitchen. If it's aqua, I'll be more motivated to do it.

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  5. I loved this blogpost as I realised that something I saw in the States for the first time in my life occurs elsewhere too! I hope you don't mind the link to my blog as I recently blogged about it.
    http://ariadnefromgreece.blogspot.gr/2014/11/our-trip-to-usa-9-at-thrift-store-and.html
    AriadnefromGreece!

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    1. I loved reading your post! I didn't realize there aren't thrift stores in Greece. When I was there for my honeymoon, I did notice a lot of good things were thrown away. Now it makes more sense! It's nice to see that other landfills have a free section too! I've seen a couple, but not every landfill has them. Even with our good neighbour shed, though, people throw away really usable items here and I don't know why.

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  6. my brother has to take his trash to a dump and there's a good neighbor shed--- which means every time I visit my brother I ask if we can go to the dump together. lol. glad I'm not the only weirdo looking forward to it! :)

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    1. Haha, you can always find a fellow weirdo in me!! Find anything good in your brother's good neighbour shed?

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  7. I remember going to the dump with my dad back in the 1960's & 70's. It was such an adventure to me! Sometimes he wouldn't let me go because he target practice by shooting rats. Ugh - people did that to keep the rat population from going out of control.

    Where I live now, we have to carry all of our garbage out as well, though we could pay an enormous fee for weekly pick up (down a gravel road in the country). So we recycle everything as well. Thankfully the town where my husband works has a collection site & we recycle paper, cardboard, plastics, glass & aluminium cans. We can also take aluminium & tin cans to a local metal place that will buy it by the pound. Food waste either gets composted or thrown out into the ravine behind the house - it's rural, a thicket & the birds & wild life love it. Though I wouldn't do it if we had bears. After all of that, we actually only throw away to land fills about one small plastic shopping bag a month. I used to moan about the work, I wash my recyclables because they will smell before we can take care of them - I sort in my laundry room.

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    1. Wow, dumps were pretty rustic back then, lol. There are no rats shot at mine!

      It's amazing how little you throw away!! That's really inspiration, actually. My grandparents live rural, outside of Toronto, and they throw their food waste in a ravine on their property too. They don't have bears either, but the wildlife loves it.

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  8. And I thought only Americans did stuff like this!

    Your trash disposal is EXACTLY how it worked where I grew up in Pennsylvania. Each township had a "dump" that was open certain hours. everyone had a burn pit in the back yard so any paper or similar was burned. No one composted per Se but veggie scraps went into the garden and protein/fats were pitched down over the bank, practice that blew my husband's mind the first time my mother handed him a hot pan of goose fat and told him to dump it. So actual trash going to the dump was anything that wouldn't burn or rot away. There was also an area for usable stuff for others to take away.

    I was fortunate enough to be the granddaughter of the township supervisor. That meant the cousins and I got off hours access to the dump. We would scurry down the sides like rats to collect treasures. The best days were when Pap would burn off the dump and we rode in the bull dozen with him as he moved the piles around.

    I don't remember rats because if they were there, I am sure we would have been encouraged to shot them. This was in the 70s and 80s. These types of municipal facilities don't exist in my area anymore.

    oh the memories!

    I am now half of one of those couples that bicker about the 40 foot walk from kitchen to curb. Well, not so much to the curb but the kitchen trash management. Dear husband is the type to let the can overflow....

    We do have a cabin where we need to be very careful because of the Bears. I put the veggie and fruit trimmings far from the house but I don't put any meat scraps outside. I don't have a dedicated compost area, more of a place to spread out the trimmings.

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    1. Our burning permit regulations are so restrictive here that a burn pile would be unfeasible, but I wish we could do that! I have taken to burning sensitive documents in the fireplace instead of shredding them.

      Off hours access to the dump would be amazing! Sometimes I wonder if the folks who work at our find incredible treasures.

      I understand that the overflow is an issue. I know people who have had some embarrassing items flutter down the road thanks to a too full can and a windy day! There's a Simson's quote I always think of, when Bart and Homer are arguing over who brings the garbage out: "Whoever tops it off, drops it off. It's not filled until it's spilled".

      :)

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  9. We have composting that is collected with our weekly garbage and though it is a little extra work it's nice to know all that extra stuff isn't going into the landfill and is being put to use. Not to mention is does make your garbage less stinky getting it out of that can.

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    1. Weekly composting collection is such a good idea! They had it in Ottawa but it only started a couple of years or so ago.

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  10. The Good Neighbor Shed is such a great idea. It stays so neat too. I recently moved to a new state and I was used to having recycle and trash come once a week. Now, recycle only gets picked up every other week and, to be honest, I was not a huge fan.

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    1. I can't imagine the logic behind collecting recycling fewer times a month! In Ottawa, shortly before we moved, they changed garbage collection to every second week but kept recycling pick up and compost to a weekly collection. But they alternated recycling - one week blue box, the next week black. The recycling was always overflowing by the time the pick up week came around - the garbage never was! You'd think a city/state would want to encourage recycling, not make it a hassle!

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