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99 Capacities Series – Capacity #32: Dispose of Garbage and Food Scraps

The thirty-second capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must [be able to] dispose of (or store) garbage, including food scraps. In it I state that:

You must “dispose of (or store) garbage, including food scraps. In most cases you should probably store your accumulated garbage for disposal when things return to normal rather than simply burying (or burning) it. However, food scraps can usually be composted, while other items (such as used tin cans) might find other uses. In some locales, trash may be burned under proper circumstances and/or times of the year. Check with your local authorities if you anticipate burning trash.”

Trash, like human waste discussed last week, can become a very significant problem in extended emergency situations. We only need to look at recent examples in places like Greece where the trash piled up for weeks and months. Just ponder how much trash you and your neighbors take out each and every week (regardless of recycle efforts)…. now consider what happens if that trash stays there?

Yeah, it’s not good.

While your neighbors probably won’t know what you can and should do, you can do better. If the emergency situation is expected to return to normal within a few weeks (or maybe a month) and trash pickup services should be expected to resume as well, then it’s probably best to store your garbage for later disposal.

Although storing garbage in trash bags are better than nothing, the trash will begin to break down, smell, rot, turn to goo, and worse regardless of what you store it in. What you’re trying to do is to contain that “mess” as best as you can and garbage bags are only a very temporary solution.

Understand too, that a pile of garbage could become a potential health hazard if left unattended and will certainly bring rodents, insects, and even small game. At the very least you should attempt to store your trash in something more sturdy, such as a trash barrel (steel is preferred) with a very tight-fitting lid. Store it in your garage or a shed if you can and do something to keep the lid securely attached. Storage outside is probably the last resort as you can bet that small animals will get into it and make a huge mess. If you must then store it inside. In this case it would be a good idea to double-bag your trash inside the trash can to better contain the smell.

If the emergency is anticipated to last significantly longer then perhaps burial is best. Although less of a concern than human waste, you still want it to be buried well to keep wild animals from digging it up. Many foods can be composted, from fruits and vegetables to egg shells and more. Consider this a viable alternative to burial or storage.

As mentioned at the start, some items may find a second life such as cans, bottles, jars, and so on. You may even get desperate enough to recycle assorted cardboard, papers, aluminum foil, and the like for re-use such as for fire-starting and who knows what else. As a last resort, it may be possible and useful to burn trash in some situations. Of course, check with your local authorities to determine if you can do so, how to do it safely, and even what times of the year it is allowed.

Consider your plans for your trash now so that you’re not left “holding the bag” so-to-speak and maybe even be able to help your neighbors too.

Note: This post is part of an ongoing series detailing the ideas from my free eBook, The 99 Capacities You MUST Acquire BEFORE Disaster Strikes You!, which you may freely download here.

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