Bathroom demo…let’s talk trash…

Normally I wouldn’t devote an entire post to trash, but when you’re doing a renovation (big or small), you generate a ton of it and you really need to plan ahead about where all of it’s going to go, especially in a green city like Portland, Oregon.  Since I try to live a relatively “green” life (and believe me, it’s not easy), we tried to think ahead about reusing or repurposing as much trash as possible, but this is one of those times where a lot trash just can’t be avoided and you just need to take a dump….err…take it to the dump (oh, potty humor, you always get me!).  Our trash ended up being mostly tile, which can’t be reused or recycled (at least not without a serious amount of creativity and right now we don’t have time for that nor the storage space).  Time to take a dump!  Take it TO THE dump!  *snickers*…

Portland is one of the greenest cities in America, which means they really frown upon illegal dumping and mis-use of our dear trash overlords.  If you come here and don’t think about trash and how you’re disposing of something at least once a day, then you really don’t understand how to live like a Portlander (nor a European for that matter, but we’ll limit lecturing to the good ol’ U S of A).  Recycling programs are mandatory in Portland and you better follow it to the letter.  To paint a bit of a picture for you our trash cans are half the size of our recycling bins.  In the pic below, from left to right, it’s recycling, glass, then trash, so you can see it’s not really very generous in size.  It’s a darn good thing we’ve been recycling since age 10!

While you can ALWAYS drive things to the recycling center for free, you cannot just leave items out for the trash man to pick up close to your trash bin like you do in some cities.  Portland doesn’t have “bulk pickup” either.  In other words, if your trash doesn’t fit in your piddly little bin, then you have to find a way to dispose of it yourself and that almost always involves a trip to the dump and a price per ton.  I believe wholeheartedly that this is a wonderful thing (because look at me, I’m writing a whole damn post about TRASH so obviously it’s working!), but it does require careful planning and foresight of where to take that dump….darnit!  Potty humor AGAIN!

So rewind a few weeks/months to our “pre-planning bathroom demo/remodeling sessions” (which sound organized, but I assure you they were not) Dr. J and I started talkin’ trash before we even talked trash.  We knew right away we’d be generating a LOT of trash and as desirable of an idea as it sounds to put ONE bag in our trash bin once a week for pickup, we decided that dragging out our trash pickup over the course of six months probably wouldn’t be such a good idea when we still need to throw away other items (like food, dog poop and other gross things – hey, it’s TRASH!).  I also didn’t want to be “those” people on the block who look like the Clampetts.  Nope, we need to bring in the big guns for this job….Whoooo doggies!

One day we saw a commercial for this:

Ooooh…..yea…..whatever you can fit in the bag and then they come and haul it away.  Rather, they can hold 3300 lbs of trash, which seems like it’d be the perfect size for our job!  The bag wasn’t cheap….about $129 for a collection, but it’s just about the right size and with all of the trash we’ll be generating it seems really worth it!  We could always order a couple of them and fill those up and then they’ll haul it away whenever we’re ready.  It’s perfect!  It’s in Portland….it’s not….in the suburbs!  GAH!  Scratch that idea…back to square one.

Ok, so what about a dumpster? 

Cue the Beverly Hillbillie music and welcome Jed Clampett.  It’s definitely not a looker and probably overkill for our needs (our bathroom is less than 80 square feet), but it would solve the problem of having to drag things to and from the city dump which is on the far side of town from where we are, which is a considerable haul (pun intended).  Add to that the fact that we’re currently rocking two small-mid sized sedans between us and that dumpster is beginning to look more and more desirable.  But the price was close to $3,000 for the length of the project and that doesn’t even include the possible HOA fees, permissions and permits we would need to pay for on top of that.  Scratch THAT ridiculous idea because that just blew our whole bathroom budget.  Back to square one…AGAIN!!!

Then Dr. J was trolling Craigslist one day (I dunno how he thought of it…), but apparently with the economy being in the drink a lot of people who have trucks and no employment are making a living picking up big dumps and recycling and hauling those things away for a small fee.  I mean….small!  Like totally worth it small!  As in about the same cost of the bagster idea small and we don’t have to drag it out to the city dump and waste a whole day of renovating.  And they took everything – including our old mattress that is not donatable to Goodwill (due to beadbug fears) and not trashable either (remember, there’s no such thing as bulk pickup of trash in this city).  We had to do two major hauls (one after demo day 1 and one after demo day 2 which included our broken toilet).  And at a price of $350 total, it was completely worth it.  We’re also pretty sure we’ll have another haul before the project is over and then possibly another one after the project is totally complete, so it’ll likely end up being around $500 total for trash pickup and haul away. 

So what’s the verdict?  Never underestimate the power of Craigslist and the need to keep people employed no matter how small the job seems.  It’s certainly a job that’s worth it to me to pay somebody for.  And if you’re in the market to begin remodeling something, really stop to think about how you are going to dispose of the debris.  It’s gotta go somewhere, right?  Make sure it goes where it belongs!  And keep as much out of the dump as you can.  In fact, here is our recycling/donate list:

  • Old cabinets = new storage for our garage – well, eventually, when we actually get around to installing them
  • Old sinks = Habitat for Humanities bound
  • Old faucets/hardware = Habitat for Humanities
  • Old chandelier from our kitchen = also Habitat

All in all, we weren’t able to salvage everything (I really didn’t want to have to trash our toilet, but it was a no go), but we feel pretty good knowing that the pieces that weren’t too heavily damaged in the demolition are going to find a new life and home in a place where they will be appreciated more.  And we didn’t fill up a landfill, which makes us feel even better!!