That's an excellent question. Because I don't live off the grid in a remote area, I asked one of my buddies in Vermont who does. He and his wife built their house by hand in the middle of the mountains, and they power it with a small wind turbine and solar panels. His lifestyle, house, handiwork, organic garden, and lack of electricity bills (not to mention his jaw-dropping views from the front porch) all make me extremely jealous, so I don't talk to him that much. But for you, Raymond, I made an exception. His response: "We put our trash into a trash can, and haul it to the landfill every couple of weeks. Duh."
Well there you have it.
An even better question to ask people who live off the grid is, "How much trash do you create?" In most cases, the answer is almost none. And you can easily follow their lead, no matter where you live.
First, start compostingif you don't already. About one-quarter of all household solid waste that goes to landfills consists of yard trimmings and food matter that can be composted in your back yard (and then used to feed your garden). Think of the money municipalities would save, the reduction in landfill space, and the drop in garbage truck fuel consumption if everyone started composting.
Second, reduce the amount of packaging you use. Buy as much from the grocery store bulk bins as you canlike sugar, flour, spices, nuts, and pasta. (It'll also save you money.) Bring a reusable shopping bag. Use glass food storage containers for the fridge, instead of Zip-Loc bags, tin foil, and plastic wrap. (If you do buy Zip-Locs, clean and reuse them).
Third, recycleand I'm not just talking about paper, plastic, and bottles. Instead of throwing out furniture, clothes, books, toys, or (gasp) electronics, advertise your stuff on sites like craigslist.com and freecycle.com, and sell them or give them away to whoever is willing to pick them up.
Finally, don't buy plastic stuff, or stuff packaged in plastic. My off-the-grid buddy would sooner see me giftwrap a wooden-framed photo of Dick Cheney for his five-year-old daughter's birthday than give her a Barbie sealed in that insidious clamshell packaging. He follows all of the steps I've mentioned, and a few I'm no doubt missing. And at the end of the day, he savors the fact that he threw almost nothing in the trashno doubt while he's sitting on the front porch, chewing a piece of celery from his organic garden and enjoying the sun setting over the mountains while his wind turbine hums gently in the background. That bastard.
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.