Paying for weekly curbside garbage pickup can really add up. When you’re working hard to pay off debt, save for a big goal, or fix your financial situation, you need to question every expense. Even your trash service!
When you’re accustomed to paying a bill, like your trash bill, every month, it’s easy to just chalk it as a mandatory expense, but it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think.
For us, going from not having a trash bill at all, to suddenly having to pay for trash pickup really made us think twice. We thought creatively about ways to reduce or possibly eliminate having to pay for trash service.
Here are some ideas we came up with. I would love to hear your ideas for reducing or eliminating the cost of garbage pickup in the comments!
This might sound obvious, but few people actually do it. Depending on where you live, you may have multiple trash service companies to choose from. If this is the case for you, you have a great chance to save money. Do your research to compare the companies. Look not just at the cost, but the service that is included.
If you don’t regularly look at competitors or talk to your companies about faithful customer discounts, then there are lots of ways that you can reduce your expenses, not just for trash, but for other household expenses.
Share with a neighbor
If both you and a neighbor uses less than the allotted disposal can, then sharing a service with a neighbor is a great option. I had a trash company actually recommend this idea to me when I called to ask if they had an every-other-week service instead of a weekly service. They said they didn’t but if I wanted to alternate weeks with a neighbor who wasn’t a big trash producer, that would work.
You could work this two ways. You could both contribute half of a can of trash each week, or you could alternate weeks by saving up your trash in your own can and using the official company’s can every other week.
Make sure you’re not breaking any rules by doing this. Saving money dishonestly is never worth it.
Go to the dump
Have you ever considered ditching curbside service altogether? I had never been to the dump until recently. After moving in, we took a truckload to the dump and I was shocked at how inexpensive it was. My wheels started turning.
I found out that they take recyclables for free, which includes not just cardboard boxes, cans and plastic milk jugs, but scrap metal, rigid plastic, and even electronics. At the dump, it costs less than $7 to dispose of two full 30 gallon trash cans . The trash cans themselves cost $15 each at Home Depot, but where we are, curbside pickup for that amount costs $25-$30 per month, so you can quickly make back the expense.
Part of the key to saving money with this plan is to reduce your trash output. Separating our recyclables really helps, since recyclables are free. With each dump load of two trash cans that we take, we have at least the same volume in recyclables. We also throw away little to no food trash, as we have both chickens and a compost pile. We have gone up to six weeks between dump trips.
Drastically reduce your output
An extreme way to reduce your trash bill is to drastically reduce the trash that you produce. I once read an article about a determined and environmentally charged couple who made it through a year and produced only one bag of trash! They were super careful about what they bought and made sure it was minimal or recyclable.
Now I understand that their story was pretty extreme for most of us, but it does show that with conscious effort, you really can reduce the amount of trash you produce. When we first started cloth diapering, I was shocked at how much less trash we had than when we used disposables. We started with cloth diapers when our third was already nine months old, so the change in trash volume was very apparent.
You don’t have to do any of this
What you decide to do (or whether you do anything at all) to save money on trash service is totally up to you. If this all sounds like more work than it’s worth, choose a different area of your budget to optimize. So much of it depends on your season in life and how much it’s worth it to you to save money in this area.
If I had had to pay for trash service when I was single, I could see myself going the drastic reduction route. Right now I’m content to take my cans to the dump every few weeks and pay $7 per month instead of the $30 that curbside pickup would cost. That might change at the end of the summer when the new little one joins our family. We’ll just have to see.
The point is, if you want to save money on trash service (or anything else), there is a way. It just takes some creativity and flexibility.
How about you?
- What have you done to save money on trash service?