Talking trash

No this isn’t a rant or me saying less than complimentary things about people,  but dealing with trash when the garbage trucks don’t run for whatever reason. You have probably seen pictures of trash piling up in cities and suburbs from strikes or disasters and just because you always put your trash out on the curb does not mean it will be magically whisked away if the trucks don’t/cant  run for whatever reason. Clean water and a working sewer system is what makes cities possible without those two items many people will get very sick at best and die at worse and it can happen in as little as three days or three weeks depending if it is a local disaster or a large scale event.  You will probably have to deal with other people’s trash as well as your own because vermin and disease do not respect property rights or make people sick based on who is the dumbest and dirtiest!

The first thing you can do is simply reduce, reuse and recycle!  I’m no environmentalist but a benefit for me becoming a prepper and buying bulk I generate a lot less trash than I did five years ago when I started. Packaging from prepared foods is a big contributor to trash, if you buy in bulk and make stuff from scratch yow will be amazed the difference in the amount of trash you generate.  I began to look at what used to be considered trash and started seeing how I could use those items for all kinds of neat survival stuff.  Cans became potential rocket stoves, dryer lint and cardboard rolls became fire starters, leftover cardboard boxes became weed blockers for raised beds and news paper could be used in place of  paper towels soaking up grease or used to clean windows and that is only a few examples of reusing stuff.

If you have enough water on hand you can wash your pots and dishes, but moving and heating water takes a lot of energy and fuel and may not be a good option if you have a limited water/fuel supply. I think I have a solution of using food as a plate or bowl.  Most of us have had a salad that is served in a fried tortilla shell, tacos, sandwiches or soup served in a bread bowl.  You can make meat or fruit pies that are single serving and you eat more like a sandwich with your hand rather than on a plate with a knife and fork.  You can go to a dollar store or your local mega mart and buy many tinfoil baking pans that could be reused if washed or trashed/recycled depending on what resources are available to you.

Using a compost pile to reduce your trash. You can buy compostable paper plates and cups while they are a little more expensive they could keep the amount of trash you need to deal with much more manageable. If you have a small yard you can set up or make a compost bin or two for under $100.00 and you can save money by adding your own compost to your garden rather than buying it at the megamart. Start your compost pile today if you don’t have one yet as there is a learning curve or at least there was one for me. Plus you can toss all your grass clippings, leaves, vegetable waste and if you are careful even the paper you shred to protect yourself from  identity theft. No protein or plastics should ever go in the compost pile.

If it is a long term disaster dealing with trash will be to bury or burned and I will probably burn as I don’t have enough space on my property to make a small landfill.  A couple of burn barrels should do the job for whatever remaining trash you still  have on hand in the event of TEOTWAKI. You would use this method only if your city or county are incapable of trash collection in the long term as they would not be able to enforce all of the normal regulations restricting trash burning.

The ideas for dealing with trash are less than optimal and simply how to make the best of a bad situation and try and keep filth and disease from either taking hold or spreading.  We have seen in many disasters people  don’t think or just can’t change habits or their way of thinking very quickly.  It’s the store’s fault because they ran out of water or food, the gas stations fault they don’t pump gas or take electronic payments when the power is out, it’s the banks fault when the ATM runs out of money…. Don’t plan on or depend on others to prepare. You must prepare yourself because no matter what anyone says no one can care more about you more than you!

6 Responses to Talking trash

  1. dee says:

    As usual, great info, Jamie. My hubby and I compost, pretty much all our veggies, and some paper items, it feels foreign to me to throw veggie/fruits in garbage cans! I store paper plates, for emergencies. We compost yard trash, or cut fallen tree limbs for the buckstove. Like you, I look at an item and think if it is recyclable in one way or the other. Our rainbarrels have more than paid for themselves in the ability to water plants, or use and purify if needed in an emergent situation. As medical professionals, disease prevention and good health are at the forefront in our minds, learn how to wash those hands frequently!!! now is the time to prepare and practice, so in any a crisis, you are not reacting, but acting responsibly!

    • Jamie says:

      Sanitation is one of the things that I’m most concerned about and it seldom gets the attention it deserves. Disease is always the biggest killer and disabler of fighting armies even today.

      Everybody worries about how to stop the zombies when they should worry a lot more about how to stop fleas, flies and mosquitos.

  2. I burn paper trash in an old oil drum. Everything else I keep in garbage cans, inside a bear proof bin. When all the cans are full, I haul it to the county dump. I have often wondered what I’d do if there were no longer a county dump, or fuel to haul trash off. I know what mountain people did here in the long ago. They picked a gully or ravine near their house and threw everything in that. Today, excavating those old dump sites for old bottles is a cottage industry in the mountains. I don’t have any organic food residue because there’s just about nothing left over that my animals won’t eat, especially the chickens.

    • Jamie says:

      Harry you probably don’t generate as much trash because you have to haul it away. Depending how bad the crash is I suspect we might see junk and scrap dealers pop up all over the place.

  3. wonderdawg says:

    Good post…Garbage, sanitation and personal hygiene are 3 very important, life threatening problems of when SHTF. Behind food and drinkable water, these 3 are as important as guns and ammo are maybe more so IMHO. Having spent half a year roughing it in the boonies with no running water, electricity or refrigeration I gained first hand knowledge of what a problem this can become real quick
    The grab and go at the grocery store being eliminated did indeed cut way down on the garbage/trash accumulation. Keeping a fire going 24/7 is almost a must to burn out empty tins and other containers with food residue is a must or within hours the flies will be un-real. Burnable stuff of course was burned and the rest hauled to far side of property to a bury spot.
    The first few weeks before I figured a disposal routine, flies, rats, mice, possums, coons and snakes became a real problem. It has to be handled promptly as the vermin will move in like un-wanted in-laws and once they start are hard to stop. It is time consuming, but awareness of the consequences of procrastinating is a motivator. I agree 100% that in an urban or suburban setting it will quickly be life threatening…Good advice as usual Jamie…

    • Jamie says:

      dawg, We have a county dump and I have used burn barrels when I lived in the country, but here in the city it will be a problem especially what and how other people throw away.

      I have construction grade garbage bags and I could go to the dump if it is open about once a month and I have my trike and wagon that might work if fuel runs out long term.

      I doubt many folks would want to start a collapse if it means living with no trash pickup or sewer system in a city. Without minimal sanitation, cities will become death traps. Not because of mobs but filth.

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