The Garbage Project – April 20, 2016

blog garbage 1This is week one of tracking our garbage, compost and recyclables. We started this project after the City of Red Deer proposed a change in waste limits, a change where no matter how many people reside in your household the limit is the same. Personally we think garbage output limits should be based on occupancy. If scaling back what goes in the landfill is the goal,  the limits per household need to be based proportionately on the number of people residing in the dwelling (after all a census is done each year to provide that very information!).

So in order to see what we produce for garbage, recycling and compost we have decided to track for a few weeks what goes out on collection day.

This week we produced:

2 – 75L bags of garbage

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1/3 bucket of compost

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3 large bins of recycling

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……plus refundable cans and bottles plus a significant amount of yard waste

So this is quite interesting coming in at 150L of garbage for a family of seven. I will admit we were out of town one day, and with school interviews and other commitments probably ate dinner out a couple of times which of course put dinner “garbage” in someone else’s bin not ours.

We also decided to walk around the block late this evening to see what others put out.

Garbage around the block:

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 3 – 2 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin, one large bin of recycling

House 5 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

House 6 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

***the rest of the occupied homes had not put garbage out yet

So this is quite interesting, if the City of Red Deer is bringing in new waste restrictions of 300L per week in order to reduce landfill amounts, according to garbage from around our block, exactly the same amount of garbage will reach the landfill as everyone is under the 300L volume. A few more weeks of tracking will give a clearer picture of what people average putting out.

The other thing I kept an eye on was what went in the “garbage”. Wrappers, cellophane, plastic wrap, paper towels, coffee cups, tissues, drier lint, debris from vacuuming. Only one food item, off carrot cake, hit the bin as I watched (seriously how does cake go off in a house with 5 kids?) which again makes me question the panic in BC over food scraps.

Stay tuned for next weeks’ findings. This is quite intriguing.







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5 thoughts on “The Garbage Project – April 20, 2016

  1. Hello Debra

    Thank you for posting and I look forward to reading your further observations during the “garbage project”. Interesting indeed.



    Dianne Wyntjes


    • Thanks Dianne, it is interesting to see the quantities, but also what was put out around the block. This is the only way to see the type of quantities too. The two surprises for me were people without recycling (but they might just put the bin out when it is full), and how few foods scraps go in our garbage (the veg shown goes in the compost bin). I am interested to see how the weeks stack up and average out. I am toying with also counting the block next to us as I know most of the occupancy numbers.

  2. Interesting. Here, the more you throw out, the more you pay. Very few areas collect compost. Portland does, but with a great deal of controversy. They want to fine you if you put anything compostable in the garbage can and no one wants to live within 50 miles of a composting plant so the cost of driving it far away is high. A 300L limit seems very generous. We had a house of 6 an two cans each about 244L. One for garbage and one for recycling. It was plenty of room. Good luck!!

    • Hi Gillian, thank you for the comment. The compost pictured in the blog goes into our composter which is helpful as we garden. This isn’t necessarily an option with people with tiny or no yards. I think many things that people put into the garbage that have other management channels are done so because they just need to be rid of the item and fast.

      A very simple solution for compost could be created with a “community composter” program where people could take the vegetable scraps and apple cores to a composter (similar to the home ones but larger) located in a common area in the community. The most sense would be near the mailbox blocks. The finished compost could then be used on the adjoining green space by the city workers who maintain the spaces.

      The 300L limit might be fine, however I wish I had someone to track that had children in diapers. I know this will vastly affect output. We don’t have any babies at the moment in our neighbourhood.

      The other thing that could help the situation is better information on the new recyclables allowed , plus information on where to donate used items , which again cuts down on what is “garbage”.

      What left me scratching my head is if what was put out last night was the norm, the new policy of 300L won’t lessen what goes in the landfill as everyone was under the limit. This then leaves me wondering why is the city wasting it’s time passing a policy that will make little or no difference.

      I am looking forward to next weeks stats.

  3. And the adventure continues… What recycling has done for our household was to alert us to unnecessary waste. We purchase everything differently now. Granville Island has now eliminated plastic bags – you must bring your own. It is exciting to know that progress, however slow, is being made. The biggest issue is to change our behaviors. That’s where it all begins, one decision at a time. Always a joy to stop by…

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