Managing Your Large Family Trash Disposal Whether Camping, Or at Home

I recently spoke to a new friend of mine who moved to Denver from Chicago. She has what I consider a larger family of 5 boys and 1 girl, two of which are still in diapers. She was asking me about trash pickup and stated her family generates 2 garbage cans of trash weekly due to the size of their family. The trash company, however, refuses to pick up their second dumpster due to a Denver company policy. It almost seems absurd that our City would not accommodate large families with their trash quandary.

I then remembered a camping trip where my husband and I decided to spend Thanksgiving under the canopy of the Red Woods in Butano State Park in California. The scenery was truly spectacular and the smell of the forest intoxicating. After we ate our Turkey Tetrazzini hiker food out of a bag, with wild rice, mashed potatoes, and a strawberry granola desert, we went to the trash area to toss out our small handful of trash. Granted, we did not have children at the time, so our amount of trash was very small, but when we arrived at the trash bin in the campground, we stood there dumbfounded as the phrase, “Leave no trace behind” echoed in my mind.

Several raccoons scattered as we walked up, revealing mountains of trash. There was everything from whole turkey carcasses, to half eaten corn on the cob, plastic bags, used napkins, card board boxes, etc. These items were not even bagged up, but simply tossed loose onto the pile. It was unbelievable and it left a lasting impression. From that moment on, I became acutely aware of the amount of trash I personally generated each day, and decided to make a pro-active decision to reduce my own personal trash trail.

I now have 3 young children, with #4 on the way, along with 2 Border Collies, 3 hamsters, and 3 chickens, and I am happy to say that my strategy of minimal trash is still effective, and being used by all my family members today. Here are some of the steps we take to reduce our trash amount through organization techniques, whether we are in a campground, or at home.


  1. When shopping and the clerk asks you if you would like your items in a box, refuse. This is a great way for stores to dump their trash into your house while they avoid excessive trash disposal fees. Let each man be responsible for his own garbage.
  2. Reduce your waist by separating the recyclables from the compostables. If you don’t know how to compost apartment compactor, you need to learn quickly. Composting can literally cut your trash amount in half, while providing you with rich potting and gardening soil.
  3. Donate your unused items including clothing, toys, furniture, and other items to thrift stores. One mans trash is another mans treasure! Some stores will even come to your house each month for free and pick up your unwanted items, so be sure to place your items in boxes (such as an empty diaper box), to reduce your household items, and trash.
  4. Don’t use paper plates, paper napkins, paper cups, and other items that make you feel like they are making your life easier. They generate way to much unnecessary trash. Cloth napkins wash easily, and dishes can be washed, dried, and reused.
  5. Paper towels are advertised as Mom’s best friend, but are they really? Yes, they can be composted, but we simply cut up our old bath towels, and use them for spills, and other clean ups. We then wash them, and reuse them, or toss them out when they become too soiled which only happens occasionally.
  6. Teach your children while they are young not to waste things like paper, and to make an effort to reduce their own personal trash amounts. You will be raising some very conscientious kids into some very responsible adults that may be able to come up with new ideas on how to keep our beautiful planet clean.
  7. Purchase a trash compactor. This will help you to take a larger amount of household garbage, and mash it down to half the size so large families can toss out more weekly, without it looking like more. Yes, your trash bin will be very heavy, but at least you will only need one trash bin each week.
  8. Call your trash company and request a second recycle bin. They offer two recycle bins here in Denver, and pick up every other week. Be sure to learn what items are able to go into your recycle bin, what items can be composted in your yard, and what items are trash. By throwing non-recyclables into your recycle bin, you will ruin a batch that could have been used for the good of the planet as well as others.
  9. Use your card board boxes to deliver used clothing to thrift stores, to wrap presents, and to share vegetables and fruit from your prolific gardens with your neighbors. Chances are, they have much smaller families, and more space in their trash cans.
  10. Save your bottles, jars, and other glass containers. They are great for canning, pickling, storing raw beans, grains, hair clips, rubber bands, pens, bath salts, etc. Start recycling right in your own home.


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