Old Business (something old, something new, something rotten, something phew!)

We’re headed out of town for a couple of weeks, and so it was time to take care of some things that had gone a little ‘long’ anyway. There’s something especially satisfying about getting rid of old garbage before the New Year. In this case, I mean that literally. Garbage.

There’s a funny thing on the farm; we have no trash service. It’s assumed that if you select a rural lifestyle, you’ll adopt a more hands-on approach to the nitty-gritty details of life, as do most rural residents. From time to time the tenants whine about it, but Elmer sticks to his guns. If he provided trash pick-up, there’d be no incentive for tenants to reduce their trash stream by composting and recycling. Elmer knows of what he speaks. He spends a lot on dump fees. Despite the fact that he’s a farmer, Elmer doesn’t separate or recycle, at all. He doesn’t even compost. As a widower, he buys more processed foods than most, and all that packaging ends up in the trash. Besides that, there’s a Re-Use store at the dump, where folks donate things that are still good. Often on hauling day, Elmer will come home with as much as he took!

I gloat over my low dump charges. If you go through and get your vehicle weighed in and out, the rate is ridiculously low. Today we paid $5.00 for sixty pounds of trash. That’s especially low when you consider that this is our first dump run in about eight months. We recycled at least four times that much—but hey, recycling is free. It’s been funny over the years to watch the strategies of the tenants in disposing of their household waste. One woman sneaks to a department store dumpster on a regular basis. Another used to bring her garbage to a friend in town—and stuff it into her curbside bin (or that of the friend’s neighbors.) Still another used to bring her trash into work, until she got caught! I note that guys never discuss their trash strategies. They just cross their arms and nod.

I’m another odd case. I don’t have much household trash. I compost the organic stuff, burn some of the paper and cartons to start the fire in the morning, and recycle everything that I can. The county dump is located conveniently only a few minutes away, so I don’t know why everyone avoids it so. Even with all my waste reduction efforts, some stuff just has to go into the trash. The clear plastic bags that my dried fruits come in, and some blister-packs (which I avoid buying whenever possible)—these things must be hauled off to the dump. It takes me six to eight weeks to collect a full bag of these things. They’re clean, don’t smell and don’t attract pests—so I don’t mind them building up. It used to be that I’d go about 3 months before I’d make a trip to our local land-fill—but that was before Rick. You see, Rick has a truck.

Nobody wants to stuff a passenger car to the gills with garbage, but a truck gives a whole new horizon of hauling avoidance. By the time we need to load up the truck for the trash, the recycling is at the point of ridiculous. Today we filled the entire truck bed with paper, cardboard, bottles, plastics and a little scrap metal. (We don’t eat much in the way of canned goods—other than what we can, ourselves.) The bottles… Well, that gets a little embarrassing—it must look like we’re drunks—but it’s really just an accumulation over a fair amount of time. Today I unloaded four big plastic bins of assorted, glass containers. I was glad the dump was deserted, (it being Christmas Eve Day and all) so I didn’t feel like I’d need to explain—“No, really, this is over 8 months worth!” Once I was unloading my glass containers and some wise guy commented, “That must have been some party… How do you get invited?” I suppose it was a pick up line (you’d be surprised how many guys will try to hit on you at the dump) but even then, it was a little embarrassing.

After all is said and done, it feels good to have all the trash gone. We can go into 2013 with a lighter step and an empty basement. And it clears up one New Year’s resolution, before the new year even starts.

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