The Trash Talkers need your help!



Download Trash Tracking Form here:  NWEP tracking

The Trash Talkers are a group of NWEP volunteers who found they are spending too much time talking about solid waste and decided to do something about it. Rallying together during the 2009-2010 consultations around the Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Resource Management Plan, effectively lobbying the City to consider smaller options when they rolled out the automated trash bins for single-family dwellings, promoting the City’s recycling, composting, and organic waste collection programs at community events, and buoyed by the success of two “Neighbourhood Zero Waste Challenges”, the trash talkers have been doing more than talking in the last two years.

The next project is to take lessons from the Neighbourhood ZWCs, and apply them out in the larger community. One of the take-home lessons of the Neighbourhood ZWC was that people started to think about garbage as something other than that stuff that magically disappears after you take to the curb once a week. This was precipitated by making people actually sort and weight their garbage.

In reality, most people don’t want to weight their garbage. It is time consuming and has a certain “yuck” factor. However, all single-family homes and duplexes in New Westminster now have automated trash bins. That means we can estimate the amount of garbage we produce over a few months just by counting the number of bins that go to the curb. It is hoped that this information will be helpful to the City in planning further waste-reduction strategies, without the expense and hassle of a full trash survey. This is where you come in.

The NWEP have put together a simple garbage-tracking form. It is designed to be either attached or posted next to the garbage calendar you receive from the City. All you have to do to fill it out is make a check mark every time you take one or both of your trash bins to the curb. You can mark if the bin was “full”, about half full, almost empty, or if you didn’t take it out that week. The same for the Green Organic Waste bin.

At the end of the survey, you can scan, e-mail, or drop your tracking sheet off (or we can come by and pick it up from you). We will collect this data, post it on our website (the names and addresses of all participants will remain anonymous) and present it to New Westminster Council and Staff in the Fall.

What do we hope to get out of this?

Many people in New Westminster are already very conscious of their waste stream, and take efforts to reduce the amount of garbage they take to the curb. One of the reasons the NWEP fought to make the 120L garbage bins available as an option (the City was leaning towards 180L or 240L bins) was that the City’s own older studies showed the average household put out less than 75L of trash a week.

If this is the case, then perhaps the 120L bins are too large for many people. If the 75L bin were available (as they are in Vancouver) for people, then perhaps the City will see some further reduction of waste, and the concomitant reduction of garbage collection costs can be passed onto the residents with the smaller bins. Or, with the organics (i.e. “stinky stuff”) now removed from the regular waste stream, perhaps many residents would prefer to only have their trash picked up once every two weeks, or less frequently.

But to change “status quo” of the garbage magically disappearing (the magic part only exposed when you get your annual Solid Waste Utility Tax bill in the mail), we need more than ideas: we need numbers to support these ideas.

Please, download and print off the garbage tracking sheet. If you don’t have a printer, drop us a line and we will get one to your house. Each line on the sheet corresponds with the first day of the week as shown on your City Garbage Calendar. We would like to start keeping numbers in March, mostly to work out any kinks in the system, but if you can’t start until April, that is OK too!

Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Curiosities?

You can email Jane at, or Patrick at
You can call Jane at 604-524-6112
You can comment to the trash talkers mail list (this is an open mail list, so don’t post anything you would like to keep confidential!)
Or keep up to date with progress on the NWEP website (

Happy counting!

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