soon fertilizing a farm near you Every Tuesday night when I put out my trash cans, I’m clench my teeth when I see the amount of trash that’s going to end up either in the Inland Empire or South Central—or wherever LA’s garbage ends up.

What annoys me is that our household contributes little to landfills. Usually there are only one or two grocery bags of garbage in the black bin. Our green bin is usually full, as we have a large yard—and I try my best to toss vegetable and fruit scraps in that bin. The blue bin is often maxed to capacity. We’re relatively healthy and rarely eat processed food. Plus we just don’t buy “junk.”

And by they way, I don’t buy garbage bags. After all, why would I buy something that I’ll just throw away anyway? I do my best to use reusable bags—those ugly trade show bags often find a new life in my car trunk for those trips to Trader Joe’s—and yet I still get enough plastic bags to line our small trash bin in the kitchen.

But I often wonder why we need to pay the same garbage rates as others on the street when we’re sending less trash to that faraway landfill.

So why not a pay-as-you go approach? The city provides a bin for trash, so fine—I’ll pay a monthly small fee so that our bins can be replaced when they crack or outlive their usefulness. I think, however, that if you’re producing more trash, you should pay more.

Korea has a great solution for this problem. For years, Koreans must buy special bags (seu-re-gi p’ong-tu) for their trash. Every place sells them—the convenience stores, grocery stores—every street corner’s got them. They come in different sizes, so larger households buy more, young single folks can buy small ones. Since I left Korea, there’s another type of bag that’s required—for food waste. All that kim-chee has to go somewhere, so restaurants and households are encouraged to set aside uneaten food and scraps , and eventually what once rotted in a landfill now becomes fertilizer. And don’t even think of using a plain old plastic bag—get caught and you’ll receive a nasty-gram which will include a fine you’ll have to pay.  My Korean tutor says the difference of trash she disposed during her childhood in Korea and what she throws away now here in LA is huge—even embarrassing.

So why not implement that approach here in Los Angeles—or elsewhere? If you consume a lot, you pay more, and those who are resourceful, and buy less, and recycle, pay less. Let the businesses get a cut of the revenue, from Ralph’s to the corner liquor store—like newspapers or stamps, sell these special garbage bags everywhere!

But wait, LADWP oversees trash collection in the City of Angels . . . oh never mind . . .

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.