Seattle Garbage Rates Are Up: Here’s How to Save

This is a post for those who like to scrimp and save wherever possible. And also those who are new to Seattle or want to learn about how our pay-as-you-throw system works. We get billed once every two weeks for household waste collection according to what size bins and carts we have. Everyone is required to sort waste three ways: into garbage, recycling, and yard waste/compost. I used to have a problem with someone who kept throwing garbage like shoes, old batteries, once even a hairdryer, into the yard waste bin, because they assumed the largest container must be for trash. But that is not so! Our smallest black bin is for trash, since we want to minimize the amount going to landfill. Here’s how we’re working on minimizing it even more, along with our out-of-pocket costs.garbage, recycling, compost

Rates are Up, Let’s Push Waste Down

Seattle garbage collection rates went up on April 1, 2017. At the new rates, we were spending $40/month on garbage collection, but we weren’t filling up our huge yard waste cart or even our 20 lb. garbage can every week. After intending to do it for literally years, I finally got around to ordering smaller cans. So now it’ll be $28/month instead of $40.

Here’s the easy link for changing your can size. In the process of doing this, I also learned that it is possible to have no yard waste/compost can — and thus no fee for one — and to compost everything at home instead. My only question about this is what I would do with animal products, since I think putting them out in any kind of compost container would attract rats. I suppose I should go totally vegan, and then I wouldn’t have the problem of overly attractive food scraps.

What to do with the money I save?

I have given the $144 I will save this year to 350 Seattle during today’s Give Big campaign. I was super impressed at how they shut down several Chase Bank branches this past weekend. And I heard one of their divestment project organizers speak recently and thought he was a wonderfully hopeful and inspiring person who was doing great work. 350 Seattle is working in concert with native tribes who united over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock. Now that Trump is trying to re-start the Keystone XL project as well, there is much work to be done.

Now to keep to our zero waste goals…

I don’t *think* it’ll be a problem to limit our garbage to the 12 gallon size. Except when we had a whole other family of 4 living downstairs, we’ve almost never filled up the 20 gallon bin. But I’ll need to be good about limiting how much trash I bring into the house through my grocery shopping trips. Time to renew my zero waste vows…and buy more stuff in bulk at Central Market? 


  1. E

    One thing you can do to help those of us who are old, but not so old that we need to have the garbage men come to the house to get our garbage cans is push the city to get a contract that has small bins on wheels. I need to get a 32 gallon can that I put out usually only every other week and then it’s not full, because that is the smallest one on wheels. Yes, I could pretend that I need to have them come to the house, but that would not be honest. But I have arthritis in my hands and often, it would be extremely painful if not impossible to carry that one can out. Snohomish has small cans on wheels, but Seattle doesn’t! It’s ridiculous! I’ve told them twice, but so far, no change.

  2. M

    Hi! Just found your blog from a google search on organic toddler clothes! I just wanted to say hi since we also live in Seattle and shop at Central Coop 🙂 and are trying to make a lot of these same changes in our lives! Also, in case it is helpful, we have no city pick up for compost (compost in our backyard) and one of our neighbors lets us put any meat in his compost bin (we home-compost egg shells and are mostly vegetarian so it’s not very often). Also we found chicken wire around backyard compost bins was really helpful for deterring rats!

  3. Hi Marie – that’s super! Thanks for the insight on home composting. Keep up the good work!

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