A Year of Garbage

Leftovers. Interested? I took them apart for you!

After clearing out the basement and combing through the house for stuff we don’t need, today was The Day Of Purging.

A beautiful wasps nest–still available!

We put out anything we thought someone might need for Hammond Treasure Days and a lot of stuff found homes. The rest had been sitting in the garage (or still out at the curb) to be dealt with.

I drove Leanne to her job at Ridge Meadows Recycling and took a bunch of recycling there. Next I took almost everything else to Value Village to donate. That felt good.

With little time before I had to pick up the kids I decided it was time to purge the trash, too. Since we put all our organic waste either in the compost or the food digester, we can let the garbage pile up without worrying about rats or bears.

Here’s a 30 second video of me getting the trash ready. I knew I had 2 bags from cleaning out the basement, and at least two cans of ashes, but I couldn’t remember what else. This is a time-lapse video and you might have to click on it to make it go:

You can see me empty the two small tubs of ash first. It’s a shame it’s going to the landfill, but it is not really suitable for using on the garden; we burnt all kinds of wood–paint, nails, glues, chemicals and all. The nails I could take out with a magnet, but with so much ash, it’s too big a job and the glues and chemicals from plywood and particle board just don’t belong in a garden.

Next I start pulling out the big cans and bagging stuff. One can of ash already had a bag, but the biggest one didn’t. I had to go get a shovel.

Too bad I didn’t pan down so you could see the final bag count. It was about ten, but the ash ones weren’t full because they were heavy and the nails threatened to rip the plastic.

Without having to pay a fee to the municipality for garbage service, we can save a lot of money by handling it ourselves. Maple Ridge is unique around here for that and it really rewards us for wasting less.

With such a connected neighbourhood I’ve been thinking neighbours could make it even cheaper still by teaming up. Sometimes that happens, but today I decided to see if I could fit a year of trash in a 2001 Toyota Prius. Here’s what that looked like:

At the transfer station they charge you by weight. Normally, we don’t have enough to go over the minimum $15 charge (it just went up from $10). Today I paid $21. Woot! Woot!

Transfer station entrance
Transfer station entrance

Waiting for my turn on the scale, I noticed something that made me go, “uh-oh”. It was the sign of banned materials.image
We have vermiculite in one of our attic spaces (though it tested negative for asbestos) and I just removed some asbestos tape from ducts in the basement. The advice I heard was to dispose of it in the trash, so now what do I do? Anyone?

At the transfer station you toss your trash down a hole in the floor and into the big trailer below which takes it to the landfill. Here is a before/after shot of our contribution for the year:

It was pretty depressing watching the guy beside me unload clean wood, which is banned from the landfill, out of his pick-up. Nobody seemed to notice.

I know I’m tooting my horn a bit about having so little waste, but if you want to see some much more impressive waste reducers and be entertained at the same time, check out The Clean Bin Project. I already wrote about it here.

With Metro Vancouver’s ban on organic waste at the landfill ramping up to imposing fines come July, people in Maple Ridge have a real opportunity to save money by finding something to do with their organics and eliminating their garbage service (or at least reducing its frequency). Everywhere else people are stuck paying the same garbage fees on their property taxes regardless of how little they waste.

Next week on Hammond Forever House: a disappointing meeting with District of Maple Ridge staff.

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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