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The Cheapest non-electric Trash Compactor

Updated on June 29, 2015
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Bill Russo is featured in the film & TV show, The Bridgewater Triangle & has written several books (both fiction & non) on Amazon Kindle.

13 Gallon Wastebasket & 11 Ounce Coffee Can

The coffee can is chock full of  rubbish!  I emptied out the complete contents of the wastebasket into it.
The coffee can is chock full of rubbish! I emptied out the complete contents of the wastebasket into it. | Source

by Bill Russo

Sears sells an entry level Trash Compactor for about $500.00

With pride, they note that it has a four to one compaction ratio. That means that four bags of rubbish can be squeezed into one.

My 11 ounce coffee can compactor will round up and hide the complete contents of a 13 gallon trash bag! That is a nifty compaction ratio of about 15 to one! And all it will cost you is whatever the price of coffee is. The can that I show in the picture is Stop and Shop 'half caf''. It was on sale for two dollars.

This article will show you, with photos that I took, that you really can stuff a whole basketfull of refuse into that tiny little metal tin.

Before we get to the 'how to do it', let's talk about 'Why would I want to?'

Campers, day trippers, and bike trail riders often search without success for a rubbish barrel. If you take along a handy dandy little coffee container, all your leftovers will be neatly tucked away until you either find a barrel or dump it at home.

Trash cans along hiking and biking trails are rare. Sadly the same is true at parks, roadside rests, and other public places. It seems like there are less and less every year. Even super markets have begun to hide their refuse receptacles as the cost of disposal continues to rise.

If you live in an apartment like I do, it seems like you are always having to trek to the dumpster. In my case it is outside and about a minute's walk from my door. Granted, a minute might not seem like much; but it can be a long time in the middle of winter when I have to trudge through the snow. In Summer, it seems like as soon as I head for the dumpster, there is a thunder storm! Once this summer on my way to dispose of my trash, we had a storm that dumped bumble bee sized hailstones.

By using one basket for cans and such and a second basket just for compacted paper and cardboard, I greatly reduce the number of times I have to walk to the dumpster. I also gain the benefit of using fewer trash bags.



Keeping an empty can next to my sink is what works best for me. When I have paper or cardboard to throw out, I just squish it into the can put the cover on. Even a small soup can is capable of holding a surprising quantity.

For purposes of this article, I emptied the contents of a 13 gallon plastic trash bag onto a table next to the coffee can. The small mountain as well as the container are shown in the photo to the right.

Using the JUJYFRUITS theater size box as a reference point, you can guage the quantity of waste that I will attempt to stuff into the can.


Chipping Away at the Little Mountain

This next picture shows that I have eliminated about one third of the mound and there is plenty of room left. Cardboard boxes, such as a 'Lean Gourmet' microwave meal, are easier to put into the can if you fold them up as small as possible. Plastic bags, even the large ones, will reduce down to less than golf ball size.


Almost Done

There are just a few odd scraps left. It looks like there is actually going to be enough space left over for me to jettison tomorrow's junk mail!

On Cape Cod, where I live, there are no sewer systems and no garbage collection. They don't let us have garbage disposers because they say it would overload the septic tanks.

So I put my few excess food bits right into my Coffee Can Compactor. Since I always put the lid on between usages, I avoid having food smells emanate from my waste bucket. And because I also put banana peels and other fruit skins in, I do not have to worry about bothersome fruit flies.


Tamping Down the JUJYFRUITS

Final step. Push everything down flush to the rim of the can. Seal it up and find another can to hold the next batch of waste. No can goes to waste. I rinse them all under the faucet and save them because if you don't, you may find that the supply of rubbish far exceeds the number of cans you have available.

Well that's it for How to Make the Amazing Coffee Can Compactor. I hope you like it.


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    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 3 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks very much for the kind comment. It only took me a minute or two to stuff the items from the 13 gallon bag. The real hard part of using the "Coffee Can Compactor" is coming up with enough coffee cans. I sometimes empty my can into the dumpster and bring it back home to reuse it!!!

    • WritingInRichmond profile image

      WritingInRichmond 3 years ago

      Absolutely genius. This is going to be a must try for me. My family likes hiking and camping so this will come in handy. At home, I'm always amazed at how much space paper and cardboard consume in the trash receptacles. How long did it take you to convert the 13 gallon bag to the "Coffee Can Compactor"?

      Also, great idea regarding the food scraps. We keep our food scraps in a small bucket that we empty each day in the compost, but fruit flies are always an issue. Thanks for the information!

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 3 years ago from Cape Cod

      As always, I deeply appreciate your comment, Jodah. Thanks very much.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Best "how to" hub I have read Bill. I often stuff cardboard cereal boxes etc with smaller boxes and ripped up cardboard etc, but this is even more effective. It is amazing the amount you can fit into a coffee can. I am definitely going to try it. Voted up.