Friday, October 5, 2012

Downsizing Cans

For as long as I can remember Matt and I have had a tall kitchen garbage can. 

At the rental where we lived for the last six year we had an absurd kitchen.  There was lots of empty, dead space in the middle of the kitchen, almost like the table should go there, but if you did that there was no room to move around at all.  Meanwhile, in an interesting addition to the dead space, the fridge door couldn't open all the way because of the cupboards (hmmm...maybe the fridge was supposed to go in the center of the room....) and there was just maybe three feet of working counterspace.  It was a crazy kitchen.  Big, but unhelpfully so.  All that essentially dead space meant we had plenty of room for a tall garbage can.

The kitchen at our new house is certainly smaller, but much better laid out.  Matt and I have been baking and canning simultaneously and have had no trouble with getting in each others way.  The layout and amount of counterspace make so much difference.  Its a really workable kitchen.  There was an obvious space for the tall garbage can at the new house and so, without any thought about since we'd always had one, we put it there and that was that.

Last month though, as we were working together in the kitchen, Matt mentioned that for the size of the room he thought it felt so large and was so easy to work in.  Except the garbage can seemed to narrow the walkway out the back steps to the basement and backyard.  He even demonstrated how we could pass by each other without touching in the main part of the kitchen, but that corner where the stairs was--where the tall garbage can was--was only single file. 

So he proposed we get rid of the tall garbage can and replace it with a small can we could put under the sink.  "Its not like we make that much garbage anyways," he said.  It is one of those so small and simple changes that had a huge effect.  The kitchen looks bigger and it looks nicer, too.  (I mean, really, who thinks a garbage can looks nice?)

Its just so funny how a person can get stuck in the status quo so unconsciously.  I've always had a tall garbage can.  Most houses I visit seem to have a tall garbage can.  Thus,  I have to have a tall garbage can.  It had never before occurred to me to think that maybe I didn't need one.  Buying in bulk with refillable containers, composting, and recycling really reduce the amount of trash I make these days.  So I suppose it seems about time I reduced the size of my trashcan accordingly. 

One thing tends to lead to another in the wonderful world and its usually the small things that make me the happiest.

11 comments:

  1. Interesting. We gave up the big kitchen garbage can a number of years ago. We don't have a garbage can in our kitchen at all. Since we recycle and compost we don't generate much to throw away so we started using a plastic grocery bag, I hang it on a drawer handle in the kitchen and find it adequate for our needs. It is important to check that there is not a hole in the plastic bag, but otherwise they work great. The garbage never gets stinky because the bag is usually ready to take out before it reaches such a state, I never have a trash can to wash out, I don't have space taken up in my kitchen by a can and we don't buy garbage bags and haven't in years. I save my plastic grocery bags, as we bake all of our bread we double bag it in the bags before freezing, we then keep the outer bags to be used again, the inner bag generally ends up becoming a trash bag once the bread is eaten.
    The only time not having a trash can becomes an issue is when we have people over, it really causes confusion to people when you say you don't use a can and ask that they put their trash in a plastic grocery bag! :)

    Anyway good for you guys.

    Bean

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    1. That is funny about guests! Its so easy to get used to the way things are done in your own home that one can forget others might find it more unconventional!

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  2. We had almost the identical problem with a large can. Now there are just the two of us and we also buy in bulk. Now we just put one of the plastic shopping bags by the handle on the back door. Sounded inconvenient but it works! We seldom fill one in a day. Some people but the bag on the lower cupboard door handle. I didn't like to out a basket under the sink as I did not want to have to open the door revery time to throw something away. Yes, we get in a rut and have to think outside the box at times. Sarah

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  3. I have had the huge kitchen with three feet of counterspace before! We could have a 55 gallon barrel in there for trash and it would not have cramped us at all. It was our first place to live when we married.

    For the last few days I have been writing a garbage can post in my mind, absolutely nothing like yours.

    Changes in several areas do start to snowball until changes just seem to happen organically. I don't have a large trash container indoors either, but it is just me.

    While I don't buy in bulk, recycling and compost do reduce the amount to be thrown out. Reusing is another means to reducing trash.

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    1. Oh yes, I should have added reusing.

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  4. We have made trash reduction a serious priority at our house. Our kitchen can is actually a bathroom size can tucked under the kitchen sink. A plastic grocery sack lines it nicely and we only dump it about once a week. I love that it is out of sight too.

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    1. Having the can out of sight was an unexpected boon to the atmosphere of the kitchen. I quite like it.

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  5. This is actually something I think about a lot! We don't generate much trash either, and (unless we have a lot of people over) the tall can gets so stinky by the time we fill it up. I put a small can under the sink awhile back, but it seemed to bring more mice in, so I haven't found a good solution yet. Ultimately, I'd like to cancel our trash service altogether and have nothing from our home going to a landfill. I think we might someday be able to do that, but as you say, one small thing at a time :)
    -Jaime

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    1. If one doesn't have a goal or dream in mind what is there to be working towards. A total lack of items going to the landfill. What a wonderful goal.

      I hope you find a solution in the meantime that doesn't bring in the mice!

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  6. It's amazing how dysfunctional so many homes/apartments are, especially kitchen spaces. Many years ago, I worked a little for a guy who would buy and rehab homes as rentals. Whether we were laying cement blocks for a new porch foundation or dropping a ceiling, it was all about "quick & dirty" with no thought to function. He yelled at me once for merely suggesting that we should move a porch light over the door/new steps area rather than leave it over on the side where the old steps had come up.

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    1. Aaaah, so that's how things like the crazy kitchen happen! : )

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