We're always on the lookout for unusual economic indicators. So Jeane Nelson of Monticello got me thinking when she wrote in to tell us that she and her husband were planning to get rid of their trash pickup, in part, to save money in this economy.
Made sense to me. My in-laws, bless them, are in their late 70s/early 80s. With frugal natures born in the Great Depression, they produce so little garbage they can easily pass a bag to a visiting child to throw in their pail.
But could it be a trend in this economy? Do we dispose of less garbage in a recession?
Nelson, who's part of our Public Insight Network, wrote that she and husband are down to a trash bag a week, a quarter of what they'd been throwing out. Part of the drop was because they're empty-nesters again. Nelson, 53, added:
We've decided we can save $30 monthly by canceling our garbage service. We noticed we can recycle almost everything we have been putting in the garbage, and can throw one bag of garbage a week away at my husband's place of employment. Sorry, garbage man.
I haven't taken notice of any other people's recycling habits. But I believe people in my age group are keenly aware of what we are doing to the environment and are very happy it is getting the presidents attention.
We should compost, but don't. Yet! We talked about maybe starting a neighborhood compost pile, but would need to educate ourselves better on that...Our garbage now is mostly things that go "bad" in the fridge, or things like egg shells, veggie scraps, also wrappings, like bread bags.
Composting is a great idea. MPR News Reporter Stephanie Hemphill did a terrific story in February on food composting efforts in Minnesota.
I'm trying to scrounge up some household waste data in Minnesota to see if there are any trends here tied to the recession. I'll definitely post on it once I get data.
But, coincidentally, National Public Radio did a piece a couple weeks ago with facts and perspective showing, yes, the amount of stuff we throw out drops dramatically in bad economic times.
Some of it has to do with us buying a lot less stuff because it's a recession and we don't have the money to buy stuff. Some of it has to do with making due with the stuff we have. Overall, we are throwing away a lot less stuff than in the go-go economy days.
Never thought I'd write this but: I'd love to hear from folks about their garbage use!
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Tell me if you're cutting back to save money or help the environment or both. If you're looking for tips to cut your waste, check out this site from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Below, check out some recent posts we've mapped of Minnesotans talking about money issues.