Monday, February 4, 2013

Trash Pick vs Being a Self-Disposer

Ever since moving here we've been paying $14 per month for trash pickup. I've often wondered if there is a less expensive option, since we generate so little trash. We have, maybe, a dozen bags of trash per week, and those are the kitchen sized bags and are usually only half full. Its not uncommon for us to skip a week because we forgot to take the trash to the road, or simply didn't want to get back out to do it. Unless there is something in the trash with a strong odor, its rarely a problem for us to skip a week.

Recently I've been thinking about just hauling the trash myself, which is referred to as being a "self-disposer" in the county in which we live. My thought was that we could just store the trash for several months, until we had a full load, then take it all at once maybe, every three to four months. The biggest challenge would be preventing odors, but I think that could be achieved by being careful about what went into the trash, and freezing food packaging until time to take the trash out. We actually already freeze a lot of the food packaging, especially if Andrea has bought several packs of chicken that she has put away and it is still several days until trash day.

Once I started doing some research, to determine the feasibility of my plan, I found out that it wasn't going to quite work out the way I had hoped. The county has mandatory trash pickup, although does allow for self-disposers. The fee for being a self-disposer is $12.00, which allows up to 300 pounds of trash to be hauled to the solid waste station. The issue is that, due to the mandatory trash pickup, self-disposers are required to at least visit the station once a month, and pay the fee, which ultimately makes it a monthly fee. Basically, this means that I could save $2 per month by being a self-disposer, which simply isn't worth it. If I could have only hauled trash off once every three months, and paid $12 per trip instead of $42 for trash pick up service for three months, that would have made it worth considering.

Even though I was disappointed to find out that we are required to dispose of our trash monthly, I understand and support the requirement. In the past it has not been uncommon for people in rural parts of the state to dispose of trash in illegal dumps, rather than pay the fee for trash service. Out of the 120 counties in the state, only 20 have a higher rate of poverty than this one, and the poverty rate is 11% higher here than the state average. It is easy to understand why some might choose to dispose of trash illegally in such a poor area, rather than pay $168 per year for a trash service. I'm not saying that I approve of it, because I certainly do not, but I understand that without requiring trash service many people would choose a less expensive or free method of disposal. When I was growing up my Dad usually burned our trash, which is also bad for the environment. Burning of trash is illegal now as well, although I'm not sure how well enforced the law is.

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