What creative ways do you manage your trash when city services are falling behind

If your city is having waste removal problems, what creative ways are you managing your trash? I have adapted in many ways but since this community is very resourceful I would like to hear what others have done as well.

My city and surrounding counties has been having waste removal issues as well. Lawn debris has been stacking up on streets for months and garbage pickup is unpredictable, leading to garbage in the streets and an increase in the rat population. This is also a hazard if we had a hurricane which thankfully this year we didn’t. Our mayor decided to suspend recycling pickup so that workers can focus on the backlog of waste pickup complaints. On Nextdoor there is a huge amount of complaining and arguing about this which I find pointless. I have adapted in several ways, mostly through changing how I compost.

Because of the rats I tried several methods and found the ONLY method I found that doesn’t feed them is Bokashi composting which is fermenting the food first. I tried making the fermenting the compound myself and that experiment didn’t work but I know what I did wrong and could try again but got lazy and bought the granular mix online. I’m impressed at how the granular keeps the smell down and with a seal tight bucket you can’t even smell it in the house. 

On recycling I educated myself on what can and cannot be recycled so that I’m not adding garbage to the mix and keeping less in our recycle bin. We have drop of locations to take the recycling, you just have to time when to go and not find it full.

Since these very large rats can chew through any plastic no matter how thick I had to go on a shopping hunt for the old fashioned galvanized steal can for the rest of the garbage.

Regarding the lawn debris I need to explain that I live in a semi-tropical area where anything and everything grows prolifically and some of it you don’t want to compost in your yard to have it grow back. What I do is let it compost in the bins first until it is half its size, then spread it in our alleyway then mow it.  Our alleyways are all green and look more like hiking trails and already have everything growing there. Anything larger like limbs I keep for weekend backyard fires for a safer way of hanging out with friends.


  • Comments (24)

    • 3

      Flammable materials into the wood stove, plastic cleaned and set aside for recycling

      • 2

        Do you worry about chemicals when burning garbage in your wood stove? 
        Since it doesn’t snow here no one has wood stoves but I considered burning boxes but read it has chemicals that can irritate the lungs and I imagine many other packaging materials do too.

    • 4

      Good afternoon Ezly Amuzzed,

      I live in a rural county but the issue is about the same, just not as severe.

      Somethings I do:

      Immediately after shopping at grocery store, I look at what I purchased and try to unwrap and ditch any excess packaging. The store handles their trash quite well.

      When back at shack and do generate garbage, all garbage in seperate small plastic bags usually being Walmart or WaWa size. Each small bag gets a dash of pine oil spray before tying up bag and placing in larger one … the typical black type. This too, gets a spray of pine oil before sealing up. 

      In case an all Hades scene enroute … we’ve had them when hurricanes closed down county dump – and much else also closed, double sprayed garbage keeps the bugs and rats away.  At least so far it does. Next is preparing for a marshmellow fire and staying upwind  from additional fuel of buring stuff and the plastic bags (I’m not living in California.). No bugs or rats so far.

      Just about nothing is buried on land. There are some big animals around here and all are  experienced in quality extractive skills – even with the pine oil condiment.

      • 2

        Interesting idea about leaving the packaging at the store.

        I might try out the pine oil, where do you buy yours?

        ”experienced in quality extractive skills” haha good one and perfect description for these darned rats

      • 2

        Good evening Ezly Amuzzed.

        Usually will get my supply of pine oil at Kroger.

        Dollar Tree does have a brand but label is clear enough that it is a pine oil type of disinfectant and label shows ~ 98% water.

    • 5

      in a severe SHTF don’t expect any services much less garbage take away – same time there’ll be hardships including food shortages, if not total supply breakdowns …

      need to maintain OPSEC on your disposal – will be plenty of dumpster divers roaming the alleys >>> tipping your food availability could be fatal – tossing out retail food packaging weeks into a starvation situation will be enough to start a riot …  

      • 2

        Yeah that is a very different scenario but you are right about it if we were in that situation, thankfully we are not there yet

      • 2

        Good morning Illini Warrior,

        It’s a valid point re OPSEC.

        Not applicable in my specific case(s).

        I consolidate routine errands and projects for max efficiency.  Thus my grocery shopping addresses avoiding any COVID infection. I’m the first one in the gocery store on a Monday morning … cleanest time to go shopping; much fewer viruses bouncing around and off the floor (about 3 hours of viability then viruses gone). 

        No browsing done in store; just follow list and out back to parking lot in 10-14 minutes. In parking lot the whole wheat crackers removed from box and don’t need internal cellophane wrapper on whole wheat bread.  This is typical pruning of ditching garbage prior to returning to shack.

        I’m out of parking lot usually before, at most, one car is arriving when I’m leaving. Kroger’s … opens 6 AM; Aldi at 8 AM.

        The early bird gets benefits of avoiding the excuses for humanity.


        A couple of other consolidating efforts for prepper efficiency. Winter and snow arriving here soon. A push broom needed to clean off top of truck and windows. Always carry a pike pole. To avoid my truck converting to a Mayflower moving van, bought a fitting that allows push broom section to attach to pike pole so as to save space in cargo bed.

        Another illustration to create an efficiency.  It costs only nominally more. For an evac I upgrade my coffee to Folgers brand. It’s a better tasting coffee with the other great benefit being the container.  It is a prepper’s love at first sight. It’s water resistant, sturdy and not heavy like a can. Plus, it’s managable although a sealed brick of espresso coffee is lighter – but can be a mess out in the field / on a roadside. Folger’s has different size containers and I find this even more love at first sight.

        Many other efficiencies can be thought of – with a small prepper group expediting this entire program of preparedness.

    • 2

      I’ve had so much stuff delivered to my house rather than shopping during the pandemic that I’ve become rather horrified by the amount of trash and recycling I’m creating.  A recent discovery that has cut down quite a bit on the plastic garbage in my house is stasher silicone bags. They are expensive but so awesome. They wash up very well in the dishwasher and can go from pot to fridge to freezer (I think they are safe up to 400 degrees in an oven).  I’ve been able to cut down on other types of plastic bags, wraps, etc. thanks to those little silicone miracles (there are other less expensive brands available which I have not tried)

      I’ve also consciously found every bit of garbage or recycling in my house prior to every weekly pickup, aware that with labor shortages etc. the time is definitely coming that my neighborhood will be hit by pickup issues too and I’d like to be a bit ahead of the game. We’ve been fortunate to not have rat problems so far and I’d like to keep it that way. And of course, get a cat!

      It is worthwhile to scout out nearby apartment buildings or office parks with dumpsters – and which ones have security cameras! That way if you do have to get rid of a load of garbage in one of them you’ll know where to go.  

      Also consider “sheet mulching” with cardboard boxes. Put down a thin layer of compost in the area you’d like to garden next season, lay a single layer of flat boxes over that, water it well, cover with a thin layer of compost, then put a heavy layer of regular mulch on top. Several months later you’ll have amazing soil (so many worms!) and the cardboard will be gone! Be absolutely sure to water it well and have heavy mulch on top or the cardboard will blow away in the next windstorm and your neighbors will not appreciate it.  

      • 1

        I will check out those silicone bags. How long have they lasted for you?

        I happen to have a Rat Terrier that does kill rats and actively hunts for them at night, but with nearby local restaurants, neighbors that don’t secure their cans, and being near a river, rats are a constant. There are also 3 neighborhood cats that hang around our house. Even with that, we still get them.

        I have been using cardboard boxes to kill the grass when expanding my garden, but there are a lot of chemicals in boxes that I would be cautious about composting, but that is my opinion.

      • 2

        I have only started using the bags recently so cannot speak to their longevity. They do seem like they’d last quite a long time though, provided you don’t poke them with a knife, pull the seems too hardy etc.

        I never knew rat terriers actually – hunted rats!  Learn something new every day. 🙂

      • 2

        Rat Terriers are naturally obsessive with hunting rats, no training needed. She is always looking into holes and sniffing for them. She was difficult to walk when I took her with me to New Orleans lol. They are stealthy hunters and don’t bark much, which is uncommon in small breeds. When they get the rat they shake them till their necks break, its really fast. I have mixed emotions about this, I mean I don’t like seeing it or my pup being  in danger of getting scratched, but it is a fast death that is much more humane than the rat poisoning or sticky traps which I refuse to use.

      • 2

        Here’s a YouTube video of farmers digging up their field and flushing out the rats. The rat terriers then run them down and kill them incredibly quick. Although sad to see the rats die, it is beautiful in a way to see the dogs doing their job and helping the humans. It does look more humane than poison or sticky traps like you said Ezly.



      • 2

        A few times I have moved something outside and accidentally flushed out a rat, so now when I move anything she thinks I’m doing it for her and I really feel like she sees it as her job. I’ll skip watching but yes, it is actually very fast thank goodness! These dogs are not actual Rat Terriers but not surprised other terriers will hunt rats as well.

      • 1

        I think many dogs in the terrier family have that tendency, but rat terriers probably are the best. My pitbull is part of that family and she has a very high small game prey drive for chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits. 

        We are trying to train her out of it however, because last thing we need is her chasing a squirrel out into the street and getting hit by a car. She has made a lot of progress, but it is a strong animal instinct and is just hardwired into her personality.

        Thanks for the video JB, was pretty interesting to watch.

      • 2

        Thanks for the recommendation.  How well can you get the air out before sealing – how flexible are they compared to the typical ziploc?  I’ve been on a mission to reduce our plastic use (especially single use) and can also recommend Bees Wrap for certain situations.   I also love Baggu reusable shopping bags.  They are lightweight, can hold 3 12-packs of soda, can go onto my shoulder, and easily refold to store in my purse so I actually have them with me.  

    • 3

      The absolute biggest problem I find is in garbage is food leftovers … etc…..because most animals tear a whole lot of garbage apart trying to find that food….

      Rats ..feral cats…dogs are all offenders and…it used to be a great problem for me….

      I built two different types of rubbish containers and the animals had little or no problem getting through…………but not anymore…….

      I live next to water and started about two years back taking out waste food directly after eating and throwing it in the canal…. voila! problem solved…….

      The by product is that now we have a great deal of fish around my docks…. some big ones too.. but they are more like pets at the moment…….

      But then again if it hits the fan….I got a food source…….LOL

      • 2

        Feeding the fish is a great idea, glad it gives you joy 🙂

    • 3

      My friend who lives in on a rural farm says that they have a burn barrel in the back. They just throw whatever they want into it and it slowly burns. They don’t have to keep lighting it or anything. I don’t know how that all works, but would be interested in seeing it someday.

      • 2

        My grandparents had the burning trash in a wire frame, but they lived in rural Alabama. Not sure if they had it constantly burning though, that sounds dangerous. I would be interested in the Dos and Don’ts of this if anyone knows

      • 2

        This video shows a man in Alaska turning a 55 gallon drum into a burn barrel. Beginning of video is him making it, I have the link below though to show him burning stuff in there.

        All he does is cut off the lid and drill some vent holes for cleaner burning. He burns paper and cardboard products because it costs a lot of money for him to haul his trash to the dump. 

      • 2

        This is what we used growing up before trash pickup was even available in the area.  Paper and cardboard may have been cleaner then too.  And recycling didn’t exist as an option (soda came in glass bottles back then 🙂 ).   All burnables went into the barrel which we lit and burned weekly (didn’t stay smoldering).  I think that included styrofoam and plastic wrapping (oh the toxins we released into the atmosphere!).  All organics went onto the garden (including the ashes from the barrel when it got full).  

    • 1
      • 2

        Just read the linked article, Illini Warrior.

        Ref 2 – reuse food-grade plastics

        I use empty vitamin containers in a cargo vest.  Sometimes need non-medical type scissors for map/chart work. The scissors is placed in the empty vitamin container to prevent the scissors from shreding the pocket fabric.


        Here, no food is wasted. My wild animals are well fed especially in the winter. Burnt toast and peeled vegetables augments their diets. I’m aware not allowed to feed the deer. Used coffee grinds helps add to the dirt.


        Ref 16 – This one is definitely situational. We’ve recently started to experience shortages of basic grocery store products. Repeat trips to store are just too expensive and time-consuming so larger inventories of specific items are purchased.


        Now, some plastics are outright required for preppers: Folger’s coffee “cans” and PVC pipe, in overall balance of American society, provide more economy and efficiency than substitutes – especially when austere bugets involved.