The bill that totally stinks!


Which container is mine?

Trash: something discarded or useless.  It is an unfortunate reality that we have to pay for our trash.  This monthly (or semi-monthly) expenditure can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.  But it doesn’t have to be.

When we bought our home eight years ago, I called up Waste Management (our local trash collector) and scheduled trash pick up.  The women asked me what size of a container I wanted and I didn’t know.  This was my first home, I had only lived in condos and apartments before. She then suggested the 35 gallon cart.  She said that is what a typical residential home uses.  For six years I used the 35 gallon container even though we almost never filled it completely.

Last year I started to look at all of our monthly bills, ones that we “had” to pay on a regular bases, and decided to tackle cutting these bills down or eliminating them completely. When I looked at our trash bill, which we pay for every other month, I decided to browse Waste Management’s website to see how I could save money.  I quickly discovered that it wouldn’t be too hard to reduce this bill…just get a smaller container.  We weren’t filling up our current 35 gallon container anyways.  In the city of Kirkland, where we live, the rates look like this for 2017:

Waste Management Cart (including cart repair and/or replacement)
One 35-gal. Waste Management garbage cart emptied once a month
On the last garbage collection day of the month (includes weekly recycling & yard waste)

One 10-gal. Mini Waste Management garbage cart weekly $7.98
One 20-gal. Mini Waste Management garbage cart weekly $15.96
One 35-gal. Waste Management garbage cart weekly $24.83
One 64-gal. Waste Management garbage cart weekly $45.39
One 96-gal. Waste Management garbage cart weekly $68.09

These prices are per month.  So every year we were paying a total of $297.96 for a 35 gallon cart.  Based off of this list, I decided to go down to the 20 gallon cart.  At first I worried that 20 gallons would not be enough and that we might need an extra pick up now and then.  But we never did.  Now we were only paying $191.52 for a year, a savings of $106.44 from the 35 gallon cart. A year later, I decided that I could do better.

I had been watching a couple of documentaries on climate change and feeling a bit overwhelmed.  The problem seems so big.  One of the documentaries mentioned our landfills and how they produce a lot of methane gas which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The methane gas was actually produced by our plant matter that we throw in the garbage. Plant matter doesn’t decay cleanly when placed in landfills: The layers of trash burying the plant matter create an anaerobic environment. This airless environment causes the plant matter to produce methane gas as it decays. Consequently, composting our plant matter helps minimize landfills’ contribution to climate change.

After learning all of this I immediately got a 10 gallon cart.  This was my incentive to compost.  I now have two containers under my sink, one for trash and the other for compost.  The compost container I got free from the City of Kirkland along with ten free biodegradable compost bags.  Many cities will provide these containers.  Just call.

Once I started to compost I was surprised to see how little garbage I actually had.  Paper towels, tissues, food scraps, peels, and paper plates now all go in the compost bin.  The items that I find I most frequently throw in the trash are plastic bags from food packaging.  These are hard to avoid, but there is one woman who is on a crusade to teach us all how to live trash free.  Bea from is the Queen Bee when it comes to zero trash.  Check out her many tips and tricks to help you with your trash reduction.

Now that I am using a 10 gallon cart my yearly bill is $95.76 for trash.  That is a $202.20 less than when I used the 35 gallon cart. That $202.20 is now added to an investment account every year. If that money stays there for the next 30 years it will be $21,954. Just another step closer to financial independence and a cleaner world!

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2 Responsesso far.

  1. Jorunn Phipps says:

    Awesome!!! And you’re helping the environment!

  2. John says:

    Great Work! Very helpful and totally shareworthy

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