Today I am going to talk a little trash. Don’t be shocked; trash talk is good for you. Do you have any idea how much money you are throwing out? Literally in the wastebasket?
Lets take a look. According to the EPA, the average American throws out 4.4 pounds of waste PER DAY. That’s 29 lbs per week, 1,600 per YEAR. That’s over three quarters of a ton per person!
About one third of that waste is packaging! It’s obvious how that affects the planet and landfills. How does that impact your personal finances?
You need to know.
Small convenient sized packages create an awful lot of trash. They also cost a lot more to produce. And you pay for it. If you ever need to test that theory, buy a package of convenience sized snacks. Cut them all open, and see how much usable product you actually have, versus the amount of trash you are paying to throw away. Next, find the price per unit of that product, and match it against a larger container of the same item. It’s astounding the first time you try it. Bulk purchases and reusable containers help lower your “trash footprint” and save you money. It doesn’t stop there.
How much are you spending on plastic bags to throw your trash out in? Are you buying the latest, greatest, scented bags? Perhaps the ones with the convenient drawstring handle, the ones that flex so much you can capture an elephant in them?
Leave it to Madison Avenue to glorify and make trash bags a premium product. It’s going to the dump for gosh sakes. It only needs to hold the trash from the time it leaves your kitchen wastebasket until it goes in the truck.
You can pay as much as 30 – 40 cents a piece for trash bags. That is crazy. I buy the cheapest I can find. Usually at a dollar store. Before you concern yourself with the “blowout” factor illustrated by some commercials, I cannot remember a time when that happened. Granted, I buy a lot of fresh food in bulk and have a garbage disposal for vegetable waste. I recycle to the nth degree, so there is little to throw out. On an average week, I have less than a pound of trash going to the curb. I sometimes reuse a plastic bag from the grocery store as trash liner. So it fills up? Tie it up, take it out, and use another one.
I don’t have a big stash of them either, since I use the reusable grocery bags. (Funny though, those reusable grocery bags have a hard time finding their way back to the car.) Two of my favorite stores even give you a nickel discount for each reusable bag you use. This should be old hat to most of you.
I just had to laugh at a cashier last week when she asked “paper or plastic.” All I bought was a plastic bag full of apples. Um, hello? They’re already IN a bag?
Some cities nearby have gone from requiring a paid sticker to go on the trash, to actually selling the bags. A two-fold purpose was in the works here. One) The cost of the sticker or bag helped defray the costs of trash disposal for the town, and Two) Hopefully people would be smart enough to realize they are paying for filling the bags, while recycled materials are still picked up for free.
Apparently only the former is working. (Not that I spend my days looking at trash by the side of the road), I have seen some homes with 5 or six “city” bags, (they are quite eye catching in a neighboring town – all bright purple) and a nearly empty recycle bin. 6 bags of trash, and less than a bin full of recyclables? How do they do that???
I also have seen homes with 3 or 4 half full bags. In that town, they sell the bags for $1.50 each. What? That’s not incentive enough to separate your paper and plastic bottles from the mix? I don’t get it.
Believe me, if I was paying $1.50 to put out a bag of trash, you can bet it would be full – and only of things I couldn’t recycle. It doesn’t take that much time or brainpower.
Here are a couple of tips to help you save money on trash and help the planet at the same time.
- Remember this simple rule… anything with the word “Disposable” on the package is going in the trash, along with a chunk of your money.
- Buying small convenience sized foods costs you a bundle. How much time does it really take to transfer a portion to a reusable container?
- Take the cap off your plastic bottles, and CRUSH them, then replace the cap before you put them in your recycle bin. It saves a lot of space in the bin, and the truck . If those are individual plastic water bottles, we need to talk….
- After washing out your cans, cut off the ends and crush them. I did this decades ago as a Boy Scout before there was a recycling push. It still works. (Just be careful, those edges are sharp, and I’d hate to see you abandon the effort by being careless and getting cut.)
- Save your plastic bags to repurpose and reuse them when you don’t remember the reusable grocery bags <sigh>.
Enough trash talk for now… I feel like I need to go wash my hands!