02 December 2012

Health: What to do with trash?

What if your trash pickup doesn't come?

Almost everyone has experienced missing a week, due to accident or oversight. Your trashcan is full to overflowing. It's summertime and it starts to smell in the heat. Maybe you start to notice more flies or other vermin hanging around the house. Gross, isn't it? If you think it can't happen, check this out:

What if your trash isn't picked up for two weeks, or a month? Say the sanitation workers are on strike, or your city goes bankrupt and can't provide the service anymore, or a disaster makes the road impassable?

It's an element of preparedness that isn't often discussed. Maybe it lacks the glamour of solar backups, or the gross-out thrill of human waste disposal, but it's just as important.

I was reading an article on the matter (http://www.prepper-resources.com/trash-disposal-after-the-collapse-burn-it-bury-it/) and was disturbed that they only discussed two options that I consider a last resort. My suggestions, if it comes to it:

Reconsider what you put in the garbage. What can be re-used or re-purposed? Paper or cardboard is kindling for the fireplace or woodstove. Tires are instant raised beds, or stack them up and fill them with dirt for a truly bullet-resistant wall. Metal cans can be washed out and used to contain something else, or strung up as noisemakers to improve security, or flattened out and used to roof the shed.
Glass jars and plastic bottles have 101 uses, don't throw them away.
You can bet that if the S really does HTF, I'm going to find a use for that broken glass, too.

Learn about composting. Just about anything in the yard can go in the compost heap, but a surprising number of household scaps can as well. Onion peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, etc. All good compost stuff. Learn about brown/green ratio to keep it from smelling, and get a sealed composter instead of an open bin if vermin are a problem. Free fertilizer for your garden. A lot of this can also be fed to chickens or rabbits, if you keep them. You can then compost the chicken poo, or spread rabbit droppings directly on your garden.

Meats, fats, bones, leftover food cooked with any of these, dog feces and all that are not candidates for the compost heap. Surefire way to spread pathogens and to get rats and other nasties digging through your garbage. Cut the bottom off a trashcan and bury it partway in the ground to make a digester for that sort of garbage, like this (http://www.instructables.com/id/Backyard-Organic-Waste-Digester/) or this (http://www.instructables.com/id/Big-Dog-Poop-Composter/). When figuring out what size container to use for this, err on the side of big. Make sure it has a tight fitting lid, and locate it away from groundwater and anything else it could contaminate. It's a specialized sort of outhouse, after all.

Finally, if there's no other possible use for it and you don't want to burn it as kindling (like plastic or styrofoam), then and only then might I consider burying it. Again, watch your location and put it away from anything it might contaminate.