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The garbage experiment

[May 2007] The City of Fort Collins, in its monthly insert that comes with the electric bill, says we should try to downsize our garbage service. So, I traded in my 66-gallon can for tags. You pay $1.25 for a tag, then attach it to each bag of garbage you set out.

This system rewards the citizen-consumer for minimizing garbage outflow.

Only, I lost my tags before I ever used even one. I still have to pay for them, but they’re gone. I think I threw them in my recycling bin that got carried off last week.

So I got the idea I would live without garbage service for as long as I could stand. I recycle cardboard, paper, most plastics. I compost any foods that don’t contain fat.

That leaves little bits of plastic wrap, the bag the brown sugar came in, orange juice cartons, dog hair, used tissues. Or about 1 small plastic grocery bag of garbage every 2 days.

Makes you extra sensitive to things that create garbage in the  home.

  • The damn phone book I never asked for that wound up on my front porch! Is that recyclable? I’m not sure, but I have to deal with it and its protective plastic bag.
  • The triple-plastic packaging on my ostensibly earth-friendly, vegetarian-fed, free-range chicken-produced, brown eggs.
  • Dog poop.

    So I rationalized that since I technically PAID for my garbage to be carried off, there would be no harm in leaving little grocery bags of garbage in trash bins around town…as long as the bins weren’t full anyway.

    I left the phone-book bag filled with trash at KFC. In exchange KFC gave me a large bag of plastic with my food. I left that at Stacey’s house.

    I left one bag in the dumpster at work.

    I left one bag in the alley trash can of the people with the really noisy puppies in an outdoor kennel that woke me up every morning this summer when I was sleeping with my windows open, while the owners slept with closed windows and whole house air conditioning.

    I left one bag in the construction bin I plan to revisit later to salvage wood for my chicken coop.

    Tonight when I went looking for places to leave little bits of garbage, I took my 10-year-old boy. We threw snowballs, scouted out new places to ditch garbage, and even gave the dog some exercise.

    The City of Fort Collins might be proud that I’ve made conservation a family activity.

    [Lost Fort Collins is still on vacation. This is another reprint from a 2007 blog.]

    Have you seen the new (2009) gallery on Pine? Much better ideas for throw aways than mine. Seek it out!

    Have you seen the new (2009) gallery on Pine? Much better ideas for throw aways than mine. Seek it out!

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