Solutions: Thinking Outside the Garbage Can

Fact: The economy is tight, and only getting tighter.

Fact: Waste costs money going in and going out.

Fact: Few entities can afford unnecessary waste in today’s economic climate.

Take a look at the picture I took today of typical lunchroom garbage. On any given day about 24 bulging bags go out to fill the big green dumpster outside. But what can we do about it? The kids have to throw away their trash, don’t they? I think not.

When I look inside the great plastic cans I see more than waste. Pounds of food go in there to petrify in our landfills, food that my chickens would be glad to devour every day. Feeding the scraps to farm animals would probably reduce our garbage usage by at least half, and the remaining bags would weigh almost nothing. One strategic change and suddenly the school saves money on waste disposal, gets good public relations when the media finds out what they are doing to make a difference for the environment and makes a whole lotta chickens happy.

All it takes is a can dedicated to scraps and an open mind. Another issue I see are all the Styrofoam dishes we have to use. While they don’t weigh much, making them cheaper and easier to dispose of, they cost money whose ultimate resting place is the garbage. Whatever happened to the old plastic and metal trays I used growing up? Use ’em, wash ’em and reduce garbage to the almost gone stage. Buy it once and they last forever. Of course, I’m just dreaming.

I’m not factoring in water costs to wash all those reusable trays, nor the extra labor that would have to be added to wash those trays. But without dreams where would we be? Stuck in the stone age with Fred Flintstone as a neighbor.

It’s something to think about.

Note: Originally published May 1st, 2008 at my first blog, Penny Pinscher. 

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit or
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