This is a guest post written by Bear.
Step one on the path to self-reliance and independence is cancelling the trash service.
If you continue using a garbage collection service, it will be difficult for you to realize the impact of what you are throwing away.
My entire way of thinking changed when I cancelled the trash pickup. Because suddenly I had to deal with any garbage that my wife and I produced. The nearest landfill is about 60 miles away and we currently do not have a working pickup truck, so hauling our own trash off was not an option (not that we wanted to do that anyway).
Do a simple excercise yourself, the next time you go grocery shopping. When you're at the register, look at all the food you've purchased, and see what kind of packaging your items are in. Then think about how much extra you're paying to buy those foods in their fancy packages. Now think about how you're going to go home, use the product, and then pay someone else to haul the package away. You're paying for the packaging, only to turn around and pay someone else to discard it! To me, that is an extraordinarily stupid way to spend my hard-earned money.
The first thing that will change is that, unless there is no alternative which is rare, you will not purchase anything in disposable packaging or that was meant to be used once then thrown out.
The second thing that will change is that if an item can be used again in any manner, it does.
The third thing that will change is that you will realize that all that left-over food stuff that you've been throwing away is a valuable resource that can be composted into the best possible thing you can put on your garden.
We're still working on this ourselves. But we've reduced our garbage to almost nil.
We've managed to do this because we have quit buying almost any prepackaged goods. We are blessed to have a bulk foods store in our county where we can go get most of our dry food stuffs in large quantities with little packaging, or with packaging we can bring back and get refilled.
Since we did not have a garden last year we still have empty vegetable cans and some plastic containers (ketchup bottles, etc) that we have to deal with. These we will be saving in bins, then taking to the recycle center when the bins are full. And this year, we will hopefully be able to put away all of the vegetables and things we'll need so we won't have to buy those items from the store any more either.