Saturday, May 10, 2008

Small Space Saturday: Garbage Can

On Saturdays I write about strategies for living in 300 square feet

We have a single garbage can here on Odyssey. It is the smallest of the three in the photo above, only 3 gallons. I'm pretty sure I bought it years ago for my office, at Office Depot.

This wastebasket may seem unnaturally tiny, but it works great for us. Obviously, it is easy to find a place for it. Ours lives under the kitchen sink. We actually own two of them, and the other one is used to hold recyclables. They stack together quite compactly, so it would be easy to carry a spare or two.

The low-density polyethylene is very easy to clean, and doesn't absorb odors or stains. Because the can is molded of one solid piece, it is completely waterproof. It won't leak and in a pinch can be used as a bucket. And if you follow the link to Office Depot, you'll see these suckers are cheap.

Standard-sized plastic grocery bags are the perfect fit as liners. They are just a bit deeper than the can, so the handles fold nicely over the top. This makes it easy to grab the handles, lift the bag out, and then tie the whole thing tightly closed. Re-using the grocery or WalMart bags as garbage liners makes a lot of sense. They are free and abundant. We don't have to buy and store additional liners. And I don't feel guilty tossing away bags used only to carry a carton of eggs across a parking lot.

Small is beautiful. A small garbage can reminds us every day to reduce the amount of packaging on items we purchase. Wasteful packaging fills the can up too quickly and is annoying, prompting us to not buy that item again.

The biggest benefit of using such a small garbage can is that it makes it easier to get rid of the trash. Living full-time on the road means we are always using someone else's garbage service. When we are paying for a campsite, a dumpster is usually provided. But when we are parking overnight someplace like WalMart or a rest area, we don't want to abuse our host's generosity by stuffing a huge bag of our waste in their cans. One small shopping bag, tied up tight, is unobtrusive. It also makes it less likely that anything remains in the bus long enough to start to smell, and each bag is relatively fresh and inoffensive.

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