Pandemic leads to increase in household waste; ideas to help cut back

Your Money Matters

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As more families are staying home from school, work and daycare, many are noticing their trash bins are filling up a lot faster, which can also get expensive.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in residential garbage,” Roo’s Sanitation owner Ruby Zuraff said.  “We’ve had people ask for additional bins to get them through this time or requesting some additional pick ups.”

Overflowing garbage bins have been a common sight since the pandemic started. Roo’s Sanitation is seeing a big increase in what they’re picking up and taking to the landfill right now. 

“Yesterday we were in Harrisburg and we were a couple tons over what we normally are for garbage,” Zuraff said.

For haulers, that means more time spent picking up the overloaded bins and more money to drop off these heavy loads at the landfill.

“Reducing waste is not only good for the environment but its good for your pocketbook as well,” Holly Meier with the City of Sioux Falls Environmental Division said.

Meier said this time at home is a great chance to look at reducing your family’s waste and help cut back on your garbage and recycling bill.

“One of the things is to not buy bottled watered,” Meier said.  “You’re home a lot you’ve got the sink readily available for you so using your tap water is an amazing way to save money and to save on waste.”

You can also look at cutting back on single use paper products like paper towels and napkins.

“When you’re cleaning, try using dish rags or towels, things that can be washed rather than thrown away. Yes paper towels are convenient, but they are quite wasteful,” Meier said.

Meier says preparing three meals a day and getting kids snacks throughout the day at home can also really add up in your garbage bin, but there are some ways to help. 

“Composting can reduce our trash by up to 50 percent, so its a big piece of the picture,” Meier said.  “So if you’re home and you’re looking for a project to do, look into that and see if you can incorporate composting your kitchen scraps into your regular lifestyle.”

Another project many families are finding while stuck at home during the pandemic are closet clean outs or home repairs, but that’s also adding to the mounting household waste.

“I know a lot of second hand shops and donation centers are closed right now, but if you are going through a closet and you have extra cloths or extra household goods that you want to get rid of…hold onto those items until those donating centers can open again,” Meier said.

“That’s just more items going straight to the landfill verses what could be recycled or reused or donated,” Zuraff said.

And if you’re doing home repair or remodeling projects, you can also look at donating items to the Habitat for Humanity Restore or finding places that will recycle or use scrap wood or metal instead of throwing those old materials in the trash.

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