It’s no longer just trash day at our house… it’s dump day! Now that we live out in the sticks, the luxury of “free” weekly trash and recycling removal is gone. Sure, we could pay a big waste management company to come to our house every week to haul away our garbage, but what’s the fun in that? Instead, every couple of weeks I throw our trash and recycling in the back of the car and take it over to the Town Transfer Station. Since it’s a transfer station I suppose it isn’t really a “dump” in the true sense of the word – there is no land being filled here. It’s just a temporary holding station for local waste until the big trucks come and haul it away to its final resting place. For brevity’s sake, though, I prefer to call it the dump.
I have a very vague and distant memory of going to the dump with my dad once when I was a kid. I remember driving up to the gates and seeing the mounds of trash in the distance, but beyond that I don’t remember a thing. Like I said, it’s vague… and distant. Other than that, my dump experience is nonexistent. When we first moved here, I figured I’d keep it that way. Having your trash hauled off for you in the wee hours of the morning while you’re still sound asleep seems like the civilized thing to do. And, frankly, the prospect of doing it ourselves somehow felt like a step backward. I’m sure that sounds awfully elitist. I don’t mean it to be, but I do admit to it being awfully ignorant.
I’m not really sure what changed my mind about it, but the $50 a month it would take to pay a big waste management company to do it for us was certainly part of it. Plus, word on the street was that the view from the dump was just about the best in town. I’m a sucker for a view. So, in the spirit of living a more self-sufficient, frugal, and, well, interesting life, I decided to give the dump thing a try. I told myself that if I truly hated it I could find an extra $50 in our monthly budget for a garbage (wo)man.
I never thought I’d say this, but “dump days” aren’t so bad. In fact, I’m pretty certain I actually enjoy the whole process. It’s not messy or smelly or dirty, as I had anticipated it would be. I don’t have to wear my grungiest clothes or take a shower immediately after I get home. It’s really all very civilized after all.
The process is simple, very simple. Basically, it’s 10 cents per pound of trash; recycling is free. Today, I hauled 36 pounds, so it cost me $3.60. Not bad. The best part is that you don’t actually pay at the dump. You have to buy “dump tickets” at either Town Hall or the local hardware store. Since I’ve developed a mild obsession with the local hardware store and the adorable cat that lives there, that’s where I prefer to buy my dump tickets. This is what they look like:
After they weigh your trash, they punch your tickets. Easy peasy. You can see I’ve spent $8.30 in the month that we’ve lived here, and that includes Christmas and New Year’s, two very trash-heavy holidays.
Recycling is a little more involved. The dump has various bins set up for plastics, clear glass, colored glass, and metal cans. My only complaint is that they only recycle #1 and #2 plastics. I buy a number of products that come in #4 and #5 packaging and I cringe now when I toss them into the trash.
The paper and cardboard bins are set up inside the back of a truck, safe from the elements. Dave appreciates this, since he knows firsthand how messy and disgusting cardboard gets after being left out in the rain or snow. (Sorry, honey! Never again, I promise.)
Overall, I’m very pleased with my decision to be my own trash person. The experience has made me more aware of what exactly we consume in this household and, as a result, I’m making more of an effort to reduce our waste. Before, we threw just about anything into the recycle bin and let someone else sort it out. Now, I try to limit my non-recyclable purchases as much as possible. I’m also looking forward to the spring when I can finally get my compost bin going – I imagine it will cut our waste nearly in half.
I’m grateful for the lesson in responsibility that the dump has provided me. Plus, this sign cracks me up every time I see it.
Oh, and the view? It really can’t be beat.