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What is Household Waste?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Household waste is waste which is generated in the day to day operations of a household. It can include everything from lawn clippings to burned out light bulbs. Many movements designed to get people thinking about environmentally friendly living have focused on this type of waste as something which can be easily manipulated to make a difference in the environment.

A busy household can generate a great deal of waste, and the amount of household waste can increase radically in developed nations which rely heavily on packaging for a wide variety of products. Historically, people disposed of their waste by burying or burning it, but these methods became impractical once human populations started exploding, resulting in the development of land fills, disposal sites where collected waste from a large area is buried.

One of the issues with household waste is that not all of it is, in fact, waste, and people can radically reduce the amount of stuff which gets thrown away by thinking before tossing something in the garbage. Many communities have recycling programs which accept paper, glass, bottles, cans, and numerous other items which can be broken down and reused. Other things considered “waste” may be useful to others, such as outmoded couches which get tossed to the curb instead of being donated to organizations which could sell or use the furniture.

Items like food scraps and lawn clippings can be composted instead of being thrown away, cutting down on waste and directly contributing to the health of the environment by reclaiming nutrients. Other types of household waste, like dead batteries, are actually hazardous, and they need to be disposed of in special facilities, rather than being tossed in the trash.

In cities, people are usually required to pay for household waste collection, with the cost being billed on the basis of how many cans of garbage a house or building generates. People or their landlords are required to subscribe to garbage services so that they don't hoard garbage and cause a nuisance. In rural areas, people may have the option of subscribing to a waste management company, or they can take waste materials directly to a dump.

People are sometimes surprised when they start keeping track of the amount of waste they really generate. Even people who think that they have a comparatively small amount of garbage can find that they create a lot of waste. Logging household waste by weighing or charting it for several months can sometimes be an eye opening experience and an interesting science fair project.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Lord5637 — On May 01, 2014

Always try to minimize the waste. Don't buy things you won't use. Buying such useless items creates more junk at our home. We usually hire the services of "Junk It," but each time we try to reduce the junk we put in our trash can.

By anon931176 — On Feb 07, 2014

I am very confused. I want to divide my garbage into different bags but I can't find good way or strategy to do it!

By aaaCookie — On Mar 19, 2011

Household hazardous waste can be especially hard to get rid of properly, but many communities offer special events to collect these...in my own town I believe it happens once a year. Other reusable things are also easier to dispose of than you might think- charities often have lots of information about what you can do to donate anything from clothing to cars, and often with a tax write off of some kind as well.

By anon141708 — On Jan 11, 2011

nice, but nothing about household waste management is mentioned in detail.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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