OFF-THE-GRID LIVIN’ PART 4: TRASH

Its about 4 miles of dirt road to get to my house. the last mile includes a steep hill of clay earth mixed with gravel, which turns into a steep slide of clay slip in wet whether. A garbage truck couldn’t get to us if it wanted to.

So we process our own trash. It starts with eatable green waste, that goes to the chickens. Uneatable green waste, including some paper goods, goes into one of two composing piles. One pile is from the previous year which is closed and “cooking”, getting ready for this year’s garden. The other is this year’s pile receiving fresh compost, but is still too “hot” to be used for gardening.  For the rest, there is a landfill 15 minutes from us which also processes recycling and green waste. Recyclables are a free drop off. Non-recyclables are a flat charge for a pickup truck. So we try to squeeze as much recyclables as we can out of the house refuse.

This gives us a pretty measurable sense of our carbon footprint. Our household of 4 people produces about a pickup truck of recyclables every 6-8 weeks, and a pickup truck worth of landfill-trash every 8-9 weeks. Which also means we have to live with our trash for that long before it goes away. This made a considerable difference to us in the way we purchase…well.. anything. We look differently at the packaging our products: food, equipment, technology, toys, come in, because we will be living with it for weeks, and toting it to the landfill ourselves.

Now, about that landfill…