Does your trash/recycling days affect your menu?

No, not talking about urban foraging or dumpster diving!

Do you cook something because it’s trash day as opposed to a “clean out the fridge” meal of bits and bobs?

I realized it does have some bearing on my menu choices. I tend to cook fresh seafood the night before trash pickup so the wrapping and any bones don’t linger.

When I make a red sauce I double or triple the recipe for the freezer. That generates a lot of empty cans of tomato products! My recycling bin is of modest size so the number of cans is a consideration if pickup is still a week away.

I can’t be the only one!

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Dangerous trash, ie, meat bits, bones and offal, oil leavings, that sort of stuff, never gets left in the bin until the morning of Trash Day. Feral cats and other “wild” creatures habitat our neighborhood and they are generally, not good neighbors.

But, honestly, we’re struggling to understand how to be conscientious recyclers. Where we live, we’re not getting good direction on what can and should be recycled, and what qualifies as trash. Yeh, I know not to dump that pizza box in the recycling bin. Yeh, I know celophane is not recyclable. Yeh, I know that the labels on canned foods should be removed–and the cans rinsed of food residue, but these common directions are just not enough for all of us.


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I do think about it but I can’t say it stops me when I want something. But on a regular week, I will try to make things with trash in mind.

For example, tonight we were both fighting off a cold - so I made chicken soup. It creates a lot of trash (bones etc) - and they picked up trash this morning, so those bones will live in the trash for a week. It crossed my mind while I was making it …

I think I’m more conscious of it in the summer / especially with seafood which stinks so fast.

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Me too. I’ve even put seafood trash in the freezer to hold it during the summer!


Yep, stock is always made so the bones can go in the garbage the night the cans go out or morning the cans are picked up.


My area is pretty good about providing info. They send a pickup calendar and category description yearly with your utility bill. The county web site has very detailed info and the two county landfills have drop-offs for many items that can not be handled with the residential pickup.

I attended a tour of my county recycling center several years ago. It was fascinating! It was really nice to be able to ask the experts questions and gain an understanding of the seemingly arbitrary rules.

Unfortunately what is and isn’t recycleable varies enourmously from one area to the next.


Our quandary exactly!

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My parents have that problem with raccoons. Fortunately they can store their trash can in the garage. They have twice weekly early morning pickup. My Dad listens for the truck and then hauls the bin to the curb. Beats having trash strewn all over the place!

I’m surprised my neighborhood doesn’t have that issue. Raleigh has a tremendous assortment of wildlife. Our bins are huge with very heavy attached lids - perhaps that design helps? The only thing that could get into them are bear. Fortunately that’s not likely at my place!

Edit: Last week something must have fallen from the garbage truck. I happened to look out the window and there was a huge buzzard feasting in the parking lot. A truly repulsive looking bird.

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I do generally try to clean out my fridge before trash day, but can’t say it affects my menu that much. My trash day is also right in the middle of the week so talking the time to make broths and soup is rare. That usually is reserved for the weekends when I have more time.

I guess I’m lucky that I don’t worry about or have big odor issues with my trash. That’s not to say it doesn’t stink, but only when I open the lid to the barrel and have the right temperature conditions outside. I also really seal up my bags of wet trash up really tightly, even double bad if needed.


No . Now that I am in living in a rural area it does not affect me . I take my trash to the dump . All recycle edibles goes out in the yard .The fox will stop on his way home . And say what’s for dinner . He eats as good as I do .


It helps when the Department of Sanitation employees have even half a clue and/or give half a damn about enforcing the rules as written…

I live in apartment in NYC, so organizing my output by pick-up day isn’t very relevant, but the recycling rules are so haphazardly enforced that after the several policy flip-flops and contradictory public statements I’ve seen over the years, I finally gave up on wondering, much less worrying, about what actually happens on the receiving end up of the equation. (NYC has a long history of ultimately meaningless “public campaigns” on various issues that our delightful pols quietly acknowledge are more about influencing public opinion than actually, you know, accomplishing practical goals, and at various times in the fairly long history of NYC’s “recycling program”, recyclables have been quietly treated as normal refuse on the receiving end, while continuing the not-inexpensive separate pick-up of same on nebulous “policy”/PR grounds, complete with citations for failure to separate them. :roll_eyes:)

I routinely see stuff in recycling bags on the street that is very clearly listed as “non-recyclable” on the DOS’s handouts and, in the building I used to live in, I was actually chastised by the super for not “recycling” material shown very clearly on the handouts as “not recyclable” (like styrofoam) because, so he claimed, the building had been cited by DOS inspectors for “mixing” them with trash (recognizing the futility of the gesture, I refrained from asking him why neither he nor the building’s management company referenced said handouts in defense against the citation). At that point I pretty much just gave up worrying about it…


Not at all. The non-recycling trash are being emptied every 2 days. As for recycling trash, they collected every 2 weeks. Trash bins are collective for all and located indoors, no insects or rats (or even cats). As for cans, I tried to rinse with water before putting them out to avoid smell problem (no bags are allowed in the bin).

They used to collect recycling trash every week, but with a tightening budget in the cities, the recycling bins become full easily with all the cardboard boxes from online purchases.

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Like some of you, I’m more mindful of it in the summer. We eat seafood 2, 3 times a week and sometimes there’s no space in my freezer to keep the bits. On the other hand, the garden birds feast on the maggots.

Same here, I will only make seafood stock the day before pick-up. I don’t want to encourage Heathcliff and his friends to loiter.

Can you contact your garbage/recycling company for their guidlines? I’m in an apartment building and they have posters posted what can/can’t go where for recycling

This thread reminded me of my parents. Not a great story ok. After retirement , during summertime, if they had lobster, shrimp or clams, they would bag up the shells, take a ride and sneakily drop them off at a scenic overlook trash receptacle.

When my mother told me about it years later all I could think about were those poor state workers who had to collect the trash once a week or so. Can you just imagine the smell…Not very nice of them was it…Other than that, I always considered my parents law abiding citizens.


Where do you live? Almost every trash system has their rules posted on their website with examples.

If only it was this easy . . . some of it depends on who is processing your recycling (based on my lay person’s understanding). Not all companies see enough profit in some items to take the time to process them - so it can even change if your state/county changes recycling processors. Sometimes it can change based on who is buying the recycling (most of it is actually shipped overseas to China (though they have stopped taking a lot of our recycling - I think Malaysia is now taking a lot) - what they want/will buy can change over time, which can have a trickle down effect (though in all honesty that is a slow process, not a month to month kind of thing).

Our recycling doesn’t “require” that we wash out jars/cans - which can be seen as a good thing - encouraging people to recycle more - but unfortunately recyclables do have a “contamination” threshold that makes them no longer recyclable, so by not cleaning the jars/cans you can actually make recyclables - non-recyclable.

My point being - it isn’t always straight forward. Do your best. Do what you can. Don’t give up! Just because you can’t do it perfectly, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can.


Thank you for these comments, Thimes.

Our 66-gallon, wheeled recycling bin was purchased from the company that has / had the trash hauling contract in our city. On the bin cover is a durable four color illustration of what is acceptable material, and what is not. 12 items okay. Four items not. There’s a whole universe of materials out there that have the Recycling seal attached that has the numbering scheme for that material. Styrofoam? Is recyclable? I guess somewhere it is. But not in my town.

I was under the impression that paper coffee cups used at convenience stores to send out brewed coffee were recyclable. Over a two year span, I rinced out 14 of these cups per week and threw them in the bin. Come to find out only recently, that these to-go cups have a plastic liner that makes them only suitable for the trash can.

Dodgy qualifiers like this are what frustrates me.

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I’ve found this site helpful for finding recycling options:

For myself I try to follow the “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy. When possible I try to purchase the choice with less packaging. I try hard to avoid single use items like individual waters. When buying coffee to-go I bring my reusable travel cup.

It doesn’t reduce everything but when multiplied by millions of others doing the same - hopefully it will make a difference!