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Take Out the Trash: Reconsider the Cost of Garbage Service

When I moved into a new home a few years ago, paying for a weekly garbage service seemed like a necessary expense. After all, I needed to pay someone to haul away my trash, right?

So once a week I dragged my mandatory rolling container (over 4 feet tall) out to the curb. The rest of the week that hulking container took up valuable garage space. My two-person household was producing garbage, but never enough to fill the container. Some weeks I didn’t even take it to the curb, and I was paying at least $60 a month for the service.

There had to be a better way than spending all that money on garbage! So I investigated an alternative approach utilizing my county’s recycling center. I cut my yearly garbage bill from $720 to a mere $34 (that’s 95 percent savings). Here’s how:

I was already recycling standard objects: glass, tin and aluminum cans, cardboard, plastics, magazines, and newspapers. I learned my local recycling center also took paper, scrap metal, old electronics, motor oil, and even yard debris from tree limbs to grass clippings and leaves. They make it into mulch that county residents get for free! My sister’s employer accepts old batteries in a recycling program, and my son’s school accepts old cell phones and printer cartridges. So I started recycling all of those items. I also created a compost area in my backyard for food waste. At that point, the trash generated from my household was minimal.

My local recycling center also sells large-sized garbage bags with the county logo for $2 to dispose of any trash that cannot be recycled. I buy one of these, keep it in a normal-sized bin in my garage, and haul it myself in my hatch-back car to the center every three or four weeks. At $2 a bag, I was able to cancel my curbside service.

Now I am in charge of my own debris and am incredibly conscious of the trash my family generates. I recycle, buy items with less packaging, and reuse items when I can — it’s a win for me, my wallet, and the environment!

Forgoing garbage service may not be possible for every family. But Krazy Coupon Ladies should explore alternative options in their area for recycling and self-disposal.

This has been a guest post by Audrey from TX
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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18 thoughts on “Take Out the Trash: Reconsider the Cost of Garbage Service”

  1. We figured out doing this last year after trying to find ways to cut cost.  We were paying about $16/month for trash pick up.  Half the time we would forget to put the can at the curb and our can would be over-full (65 gallons!)  During the winter months we burn our paper, which cuts down wood costs considerably (we turn off the furnace and burn wood only, since propane is 4x more expensive.)  I bought a $26 paper shredder from Walmart that shreds lightweight cardboard, so in the summer, we shred everything we can and use the shreds for litter for our guinea pigs. We have bags in the garage for glass and aluminum and a bag in the house for plastics & styrofoam (yes, it’s recyclable!) Which happens to make up the most of our waste.  Everything else gets thrown out, which is about a 13 gal. trash bag a week.  We aren’t composting this year, otherwise it would be less. Anyhow, we now take our recycling and trash to the transfer station down the road once a month.  To recycle is FREE and our 2 trash cans cost $4 total. That’s a lovely trip to Starbucks for the whole family we saved for each month! We LOVE our Buck’s-House coffee!!!

  2. $60/mo?!?!?!?! Just for trash pick up?!?! You were getting ripped off!!! Ours is $16!!!! I know some cities the trash is figured in w/the water and/or sewer and may be more expensive that way. Each of ours is through a different company so they are priced individually…

    • Renee says:

      My sister lives here in Georgia and she pays $30 a month for garbage pick up.  I still think its alot to haul of trash every week.  When she lost her job and couldnt afford it they came and took her trash can so she just took it to the apartment complex that was right behind her once a week.  Worked out well. LOL

  3. Anonymous says:

    You’re lucky your recycling center will take your bags for $2.  Our dump has a minimum fee of $20.  Even just one bag would be $20.  I know because I’ve tried it.

  4. brittany s says:

    Where the heck do you live where you are paying over $700 a year for trash? That seems seriously exaggerated. We have trash pick up 2 days a week and our annual bill is less than $90.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agreed with Brittany. Paying $60 a month on trash service sounds ridiculous. I live in Texas too and we pay less than $20 monthy and our trash is picked up two days a week.
      This is still a great article though.

    • Anonymous says:

      My bill is $50 every 2 months and I only have 1x a week pickup.  You have a great rate.

    • Jennifer Frame says:

      We live in Portland, Or., pay $400 a year and ONLY get the garbage picked every 2 weeks!!!  We are given two recycling bins; one for all recycling and another for yard debris and all food scraps.  We recycle and compost everything we can and still find garbage service every other week difficult as the bin is usually full to the brim. 

  5. Angela White says:

    Or you could just live in an apartment complex where you put your trash in a giant bin and it just disappears! POOF! ;-p

  6. Marie Roush says:

    As a two person household, we also didn’t need pick-up weekly. We have once a month for $6.35. We live in a rural area, so we burn paper, recycle glass, tin and all plastics.Food scraps do smell, I will agree. But with the chickens, and dogs eating most things, that leaves us with mainly plastic. Any bones, or icky things are froze until pick-up day. Even then our can is never quite full, and weighs next to nothing. The only other alternate for us is the dump. But this is cheaper, and I don’t have things sitting around for months on end.
    The biggest thing I’ve found for reducing garbage is packaging!!!!! I now buy lots of things in bulk at winco foods. Plastic bags weigh a lot less than say a plastic bottle, and I save on the product. To fill my Kraft parmesan container is less than $1 instead of $3 or $4 and no packages to toss

    • Allowing your dog to eat scraps can backfire.  My dog, Spike, ate dog food and occasionally table over.  He developed pancreaites (sp) and would have died if not treated with meds and special food.  In six months it has cost $1600 for vet care. testing, meds and food.  I paid it gladly to keep my sweet dog.  I do not have the money for this and wish I would have not fed him the occational people food.

      • Anonymous says:

        You just have to check out what you’re giving him first. We give my dog “people food”, but we eat a mainly whole foods diet (there are very few things we buy that are pre-packaged or processed), so it’s healthy food, AND we check online before we give him something we haven’t given him before to make sure dogs can have it. Pretty much if it’s something they would find in nature and eat without adverse effects, it’s ok. Meat, fruits, veggies, etc. are “people food” but totally edible for dogs. Do you think dogs in the wild eat processed dog food? ;)

  7. Anonymous says:

    We got rid of our garbage service about 20 years ago.  My husband works near the recycling center and drops off all the trash.  They charge 21 cents a pound for regular trash and don’t charge for recycled stuff.  We are careful to recycle all materials we can and pay next to nothing to get rid of the trash.  Plus, when we drop off the newspapers, we often find coupons just waiting for someone to grab.

  8. It wouldnt really work in Las Vegas. In my area of we do not have recycling

  9. Sarah Yost says:

    This is an interesting idea, but probably not possible for most KCLs. In most places, garbage pickup is factored into either your taxes (property or other local tax) or your water bill. I don’t think most places will allow you to eliminate that portion of the bill (though you can generally request an additional garbage can for an additional fee). Like the others who have commented, we recycle (and compost) diligently and produce very little garbage for a family of 4. It’s usually less than one kitchen garbage bag in a week, but it starts to stink long before it gets full so keeping it in the garage (which we don’t have) for 4 weeks wouldn’t be an option anyway!

    • Shannon says:

      I agree Sarah on the smell! We recycle too, but tried the no service route awhile back as I had no space to compost & nosey dogs.  A few weeks into it & I discovered we had maggots! I gladly paid for trash service again after that! Some things arent worth saving $ on!   Great idea thought for those that have the space to try it.

  10. Thanks for Sharing!! AMAZING!! It is only me and my Fiance in our home, I was on a mission in how we cut some of our expenses with utilities and I will definitely do some research on our garbage. We recycle and that container is always the fullest than our regular trash container (I recycle Everything that plastic, paper etc.) Need to explore this alternative-Thanks!

  11. Almost 20 years ago now, My husband and I lived in a very remote area, and by a huge recycling facility. I could not justify spending anything on trash service, because like this poster we barely had any. The recycling place took almost anything you could think of, so we kept bins in the garage, and separated, what small amount of paper they wouldn’t take we burned, We had a compost pile in the field behind our garage, and we literally kept a small bathroom sized waste can in the kitchen for what we could not put elsewhere, which my hubby happily took to work once a week. Now I wouldn’t suggest everyone taking their trash to work, But it was his store and Our once a week walmart sized bag of trash didn’t take up any space to speak of in his huge dumpster behind the store. In fact I was so “into” recycling at the time, I made him bring home anything from the store that could go to the recycling facility. Fair trade I Guess.