Ten Weeks in the Mountains: Let’s Talk About Trash, Baby!

Let’s talk about things smelly. Let’s talk about all the things that I do now like dumping illegally. Let’s talk about trash. (If you’re too young to get the reference, click here.)

No seriously, I’ve never understood “No Illegal Dumping” signs until now. Who would just chuck their trash anywhere they felt like it when there are garbage men who come around once a week and collect it? What is the point?

Well, now I live somewhere garbage men don’t come around once a week to collect it. Sort of. They do come around, 2.5 miles from our house and we have to pay for collection by the bag. If we use our trash compactor, each of their big orange bags can hold four regular trash bags. But we can’t store our garbage in cans outside since doing so would attract unwelcome furry visitors, so we have garbage stinking up the mechanical room off the garage for two to three weeks until the big bag is full.

We did also recent acquire this beast for hauling trash and firewood and escaping from the Sanctuary in case of a massive “snow event.” But mostly it’s for hauling trash.

I made the mistake of taking the weeks-old trash down to the main road in my SUV once. Even with all the windows open, the stench did not dissipate for over 12 hours. Now we strictly use the Jeep, with the sides and top removed, for trash hauling. But still, the 30 seconds or so it takes to put that last fresh trash bag into the big orange bag and tie it off and throw it in the back of the Jeep is enough to make you spew more vomit than Linda Blair did in the Exorcist. Fortunately, 9 times out of 10 this task falls to my partner.

One of the first questions we asked our neighbors was what they do with their trash. One neighbor bought a trailer for storing trash and hauling it to the dump. Apparently, it is cheaper to take an entire trailer full of garbage to the dump than it is to drop off one bag at a time. But that means he stores his garbage for months. Months! I don’t care if the trailer is inside a shed inside a garage inside a shipping container that is hermetically sealed and 2000 feet from my house. Just no.

Another neighbor, no surprise here, is also an illegal dumper. We’re not talking about throwing bags and bags of trash in an empty field somewhere. I may not be very environmentally conscious, but I do follow the guidelines of being a good citizen, like cleaning up after myself and not littering (although I will never carry my excrement out from a backcountry camping trip). By illegal dumping, I mean using private dumpsters around town. I go down to Denver to work once a week and there are plenty of unlocked dumpsters behind the business and apartment buildings in the neighborhood where my office is. I’ve taken advantage of those quite a few times already when the trash we had didn’t involve food scraps.

And food scraps are really the problem, aren’t they? Three week old chicken bones and egg remnants make dog farts and sweaty feet smell like perfume. If you ask me what I miss most about condo living, I’ll answer without hesitation – a garbage disposal. The soggy chunks of food that need to be cleaned out of the drain trap daily nauseate me. And when I do stop internally (usually) writhing and squirming and throwing a tantrum over the thought of touching the traps long enough to clean them out, the scraps end up in the trash bag. On top of all the other food scraps generated while cooking and eating.

I know we should be composting. I said that from the day we moved in here, but my partner was afraid that a composter would also attract unwelcome furry visitors. Well, if the magnificent odors already coming from the waste in the mechanical room haven’t caused any bears to rip off the garage door yet, I think we’ll be OK getting a composter. At the very least, I did finally purchase a little compost kitchen pail with the special bags and the carbon filters for storing scraps until we’re ready to haul the big orange bag down to the road.

But if we do intend to compost, then I won’t be able to put meat scraps and bones in the compost pail. A friend of mine who has lived in a similar environment suggested keeping a resealable container in the freezer for that sort of food waste. I know her suggestion makes sense. I know that would be better than what we’re dealing with now. But I just can’t come to terms with the idea of having old, chewed food next to unconsumed food that I plan to eat at some point. I’m just not there yet. I know it’s ridiculous and that I’m being squeamish over nothing. But give me a break. I just stepped out of an ultra-urban environment full of modern conveniences into the hills 70 days ago. I haven’t yet drunk the Boulder Flavor Aid.

Anyways, any other suggestions on how to cut down the smell other than opting to live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of my life are greatly appreciated!

2 thoughts on “Ten Weeks in the Mountains: Let’s Talk About Trash, Baby!

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