All About That Wastebasket: How to Reduce Trash Production in 1 Easy Step

I am so proud of our town of Brattleboro and their forward-thinking, effective campaign to organize town waste streams. Several years ago there was a big gafuffle about a Pay as You Throw (PAYT) proposal, which would require purchasing trash bags to alleviate the cost of picking it up and hauling it each week. Even though other towns in the area do this, the idea got a lot of negative reaction. Nobody wanted to SUDDENLY switch to buying trash bags for all of the trash (and unfortunately some recycling too). Large households and low income households were predicted to be hit the hardest.

Was there some way to help townspeople actually cut down on their trash so PAYT wouldn't be so costly?

Flash forward to the curbside compost program. You purchase a container the right size for your household, and place in it all manner of degradable material, from clementine crates to meat bones to cat litter to regular kitchen scraps. Suddenly our trash bags were much lighter since much of it was now hauled away as compost. At the same time, the town started picking up recycling every week.

After a few years of this, the PAYT program started, with two sizes of bags. Given the effort to ramp up composting and recycling, the transition was fairly smooth. We use the $1 small bags, and we don't even generate enough trash for weekly pickup, so we only put it out every other week. We also diligently compost everything we can, and recycle cardboard, plastic, and cans every week. Because the compost program is working so well, having to pay fifty cents a week for a bag is a minor imposition.

Next month, Brattleboro rolls out yet another phase of the plan, reducing trash pickup to every other week. Essentially the populace has now been trained to focus on compost and recycling and reduce trash production. I'm impressed.

This is all a long introduction to my brilliant bathroom wastebasket solution.

Here's the problem: we were great at separating out compost from trash in the kitchen, but in the bathroom we still blended everything together. A wastebasket that was 90% tissues and cardboard cotton swabs would be deemed trash because there were, say, a few plastic dental flossers or adhesive bandages mixed in.

The solution? I divided our bathroom system into trash and compost, just like the kitchen. We use compostable Biobags for the larger container with all the tissues etc. We can just gather it up and put it in our compost bin. The other tiny container is for trash. I trim the handles off a plastic grocery bag to create a mini bin liner. We now have a miniscule amount of bathroom trash every week.

So now 90% of our bathroom waste is diverted from the trash stream into the compost stream, and just a dollop goes into our biweekly trash bag.

Isn't that amazing?? It's the little things, eh?

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