Trash Matters, Revisited Felix Wong

As I mentioned over four years ago, on October 3, 2007 I switched my trash plan from weekly 35-gallon cart pickup service to a pay-as-you-throw tag system. Basically, this provided an economic incentive to reduce the amount of trash I contribute to a landfill if I didn’t already have an environmentally friendly motive for doing so. The less frequently I had to put out a bag of trash for pickup, the less it costs me over time.

So how did I do? Well, I finally used the 20th pay-as-you-throw tag on Thursday, June 28, 2012.

Therefore, 4.74 years passed since I switched to this system and pre-purchased 20 tags (at a cost of $1.35/tag). This meant I used 4.2 tags/year, or about 1 every 2.8 months. In other words, I only had enough trash to fill one 30-gallon gallon trash bag (to put out on the curb with a tag) every 12.4 weeks.

Per year, then, I contributed about [30 gallons * 4.2 = 126 gallons] of garbage to a landfill. If we assume each bag of trash weighed 20 lbs., then I contributed [20 lbs. * 4.2 = 84 lbs.] each year, or 0.23 lbs./day.

That sounds like a lot to me, but keep in mind that one PBS report claimed that each American throws an average of 4.4 lbs. of garbage a day—or 19 times as much!

How did I achieve this? Mostly by following the “reduce, reuse (including reselling and donating), recycle” mantra as much as possible. And not being a particularly big consumer of “stuff” in the first place.

Versus the traditional weekly 35-gallon cart pickup service, I figured I saved [$4.55/month savings in baseline service charge – 4.2 * $1.35/tag = $48.93/year] with pay-as-you-throw service. Not a whole lot, but it is a financial incentive for being less wasteful.

Going forward I can no longer buy tags from Gallegos Sanitation. Instead, I will have to buy their pre-purchased 33-gallon bags. I will be ordering 20 of them shortly. I wonder if I can make this supply of them last even longer than 4.74 years this time around.

(July 2, 2012 Mon): Turns out I may have saved more per year than what I wrote above. I just ordered 20 Gallegos 33-gallon bags, and they cost $3.25 each (vs. $1.35 for each tag 5 years ago)! Granted, some of that extra cost is the price of a physical bag vs. a tag, but I can’t imagine each of those bags cost more than 50 cents. In addition, the base service rate increased from $4.00/month to $4.35/month over the last five years, too.

Inflation, grumble grumble. Well, that’s an even greater reason to cut down on waste and try to be even more environmentally friendly than I have been.

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