Helping the environment while saving space and eliminating rodent infestation
“Ours is a culture and a time immensely rich in trash as it is in treasures.”
― Ray Bradbury
A few years back, the city I live in decided to cut the trash pick up from once a week to twice a month. Not an uncommon move I’ve come to know, humans trying to find ways to get more, while doing less.
A 30 gallon container costs $25.00 a month and it’s only picked up twice. This size container matches the common kitchen size trash bag. You may even use 55 gallon bags, good luck with that.
After they made the change, I tried to recover the doubling in price by reducing the size of my can to the smallest offered. I even contemplated cancelling the service, they told me that was against the law. Really?
Soon, I had more trash then would fit in the can, so bags were placed in the garage or small shed, waiting in line for their turn. To make matters worse, having trash outside for 2 weeks began to pose a rodent problem. I had decided I was not giving the $75.00 they were asking for a 90 gallon container so another solution was needed.
Any of the prices equate to $15.00 per 30 gallon bag of trash.
In a second service reduction later, they eliminated bottle recycling.
Suddenly, I remembered a trash company in a previous home town. Blue trucks had three large white letters painted on the side, BFI. I wondered what the acronym meant, maybe Big Fucking Industry?
Something had to be Done
Beyond the obvious cardboard recycling which I was already doing. Suddenly, I was very present to all the empty space inside every jar, bottle and can. I drink a ton of bottled water and end up with dozens of plastic bottles every week.
Not to mention the wine, and other bottles used to hold stuff like pickles, mayo or other perishables.
Early on, I researched trash compactors and found out they are expensive. Although having no room for one anyway, I knew that device’s functions was one answer.
Crushing the items.
So, to my trusted computer I went and ordered three items on Amazon.
A glass breaker, a can and bottle crusher, along with a ten pound hammer.
“Pollution will pollinate the world in ways that we haven’t even dreamed of.”
― Anthony T. Hincks
It would take some effort and complete commitment, but had an immediate impact. The can and bottle crusher was mounted on the wall just above the drawer holding the trash can. Every aluminum can or plastic bottle went into the crusher for significant reduction in size before reaching the can.
Saving the bottle lids, after crushing they can be tightened allowing for no air to come back in, re-expanding the container. And the result…
“The scale of the mess we leave behind is proportionate to the level of respect we have for others.” ― Stewart Stafford
“The future is trash. Recycling it, re-arranging it. Making it beautiful again.”
― Chris Campanion
A Fraction of the Size
As I went along, other benefits began to emerge. The trash would now have to be taken out much less frequently. What else could I be creating of value during that time?
A sense of accomplishment and responsibility showed up as I was doing more to help the environment, while saving money. Suddenly, I also had some new article material.
Steel cans are far too strong to be handled by the bottle crusher, another method would be needed there.
So, I found a ten pound hammer and a 1x4x8 piece of wood board. I simply placed those on the counter and before placing the can in the garbage, I take out whatever frustration could be in me while pounding the can flat.
An additional step of rinsing the can out first was added which reduced the leftovers that may attract rodents.
Such a Huge Difference
The can now became as thin as a small piece of cardboard rather then a vast empty vessel. There was no dead space left, 100% of the space was metal instead of what existed before which was mostly air.
The bottles would prove to be the most complicated, although still very straight forward.
I tried a regular hammer at first, but had no idea how strong glass can be. Then I remembered seeing those little hammers hanging next to fire extinguisher cases hundreds of times. You know, by where it says “In case of fire, break the glass.”
A Google search for “glass breaker” brought back the answer. Glass hammers are designed to break a car window in case of emergency. Like being trapped in the car submerged in water.
I simply cut a piece of cardboard to contain the pieces and hammered away. Wearing eye protection of course.
“To gain the treasure, you must leave the trash.”
― Eric Samuel Timm
The investment in all the materials needed for this new habit were paid for in the first two weeks by the sheer volume reduction in the materials. I can now feel a sense of accomplishment instead of frustration, while looking for ways to continue reducing my human footprint on the world.
Thanks for reading, Cheers!
When Christopher isn’t writing from home, he can be found traveling or capturing photographs somewhere in the United States. He loves to generate Graphic Design, process images or video, and flying his Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. More pastimes include wrangling dogs, backpacking or kayaking. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.