Trash disposal is a major challenge for RVers who travel or live on the road. RVers who boondock or those who tent camp off the grid also find it difficult finding places to dispose of their trash properly. Garbage can pile up quickly in their motorhome and camper; making for an unpleasant experience. So, there lies the million dollar question. Where can RV travelers and campers ditch their garbage?
If you’re a RVer, RV Boondocker, tent camper or even car camper, you’ve noticed that trying to find a place to dispose of your trash is sometimes, like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
But one thing you should never do is just dump your trash, household garbage or any refuse, into any trash dumpster or trash can on private property. That alone could land you in a heap of trouble and even a hefty fine.
In fact, businesses have resorted to putting locks on the dumpsters on their property. Or they have removed trash receptacles all together because people were dumping not only their household trash but bulky and hazardous waste as well.
With the price of local trash fees, I can honestly understand why business owners are locking up their trash disposal containers. Because trash removal is expensive.
That said, since we don’t live in a sticks and bricks house with trash collection service, we still have to find a place to get rid of our household refuse. It’s got to go somewhere, right? But where?
This, in part, is one of the reasons why our National Parks and public lands are literally, being trashed. It’s because there are few known places to dispose of camping trash. But, unlike the government, we are here to help with your trash disposal dilemma by providing these trash disposal tips.
Because, as RVers who live full-time on the road, we understand and experience first hand this dilemma. So, let’s see where we ditch our household trash responsibly and respectfully. We’ll also include some helpful tips on how to properly manage your trash footprint.
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Trash Disposal Tips for RVers: Where RVers and Campers Can Get Rid of Their Garbage
Campgrounds and RV Parks
Parking overnight at a campground or RV park is the perfect time to get rid of your trash at their trash dumpsters. Trash disposal is part of your campground fees.
In fact, that’s a great time to stock up on groceries. I’ll even wash and even transfer some of our perishables to smaller containers to fit into our RV refrigerator so I can toss away the packages.
It’s also a good time to batch cook meats and make pre-made meals to store in the freezer. Then you can ditch all of those yucky meat trays and bulky packaging. That way, you don’t have to worry about that on the road.
This is also the perfect time and place to receive shipments; many of which come in bulky boxes or packages. So, the campground dumpster is where you can dispose of our packaging trash as well.
That said, be very mindful that the campground dumpsters fill up very quickly. Do your part by collapsing and breaking down all carton boxes and shipping material the best you can to minimize the size of your trash footprint.
In other words, don’t fill up the dumpster with empty space.
RV Dump Stations
As we mentioned in our article about where to locate dump stations, there’s usually a small trash can to throw away a small refuse from your RV or vehicle.
Be aware though, these trash cans may not be emptied daily, so be considerate by not using it as your large trash bags or multiple bag unload.
Read more: Where to Find RV Dump Stations and Potable Water
Public Parks and Picnic Areas
Usually, municipal or county public picnic areas or parks that have picnic tables will typically provide one or two trash cans. These are great inconspicuous resources to dispose of your small bags of garbage. But, always make certain you dispose of your garbage inside the trash receptacle; not leave it on top like someone did in the photo below.
Just make sure your food trash is bundled and secured tightly as these trash cans are prone to animals and wildlife who are prone to dumpster diving.
Welcome Centers and Rest Areas
Highway rest areas and state welcome centers have trash cans throughout the grounds; usually near picnic tables or near the entrance of the visitor’s center building.
Grocery or Big Box Stores
Big box stores and grocery stores have come to recognize the need for trash cans. People were just leaving their trash and empty bottles in the grocery carts.
To rectify that, these large businesses now provide trash cans so their employees don’t have to handle, oftentimes, ‘nasty trash’.
So, look for stores like Walmart who may have a trash can near each cart corral in their parking lot. Just be polite with your trash disposal. We’ll talk more about that further down this article.
Truck Stops and Travel Centers
Truck stops and travel centers usually have trash cans at each of the fuel pumps that are intended for truckers to toss their soda cans, snack containers and chip bags from their trucks.
They may also have a trash dumpster onsite in a corner for those with bigger bags of trash. But, before assuming those are for anyone to toss their bags of trash, ask the management first.
Similar to truck stops, fuel stations have trash receptacles on each fuel island. Those are great places to discard your single item garbage and small bags trash. Again, though they are available doesn’t mean you empty all of your RV’s trash into them.
So, those are our recommended go-to places where you can dispose of your rubbish.
However, there’s one caveat. Always respectful in not only what kind of trash you throw away but also, how much trash you dispose of. If all of us were to start piling up trash unnecessarily, we could very well find these places uprooting their trash receptacles. What will we have then?
So, we’ve put together some great tips on how to manage your trash as well as how to be good stewards of our planet.
We noticed a lot of boat ramps have dumpsters for boaters and anglers to toss their trash from their boating afternoon or fishing trip before heading home. So, this is a viable option for RVers to dispose of your trash also.
Trash Disposal and Recycling Tips
What you CAN throw away in trash cans:
- Small household trash
- Paper products
- Non-recyclable plastic
- Broken down food product boxes
- Milk and dairy cartons
- Food containers
- Meat trays
- Aluminum foil
- Produce refuse (stems, pits, seeds, skins, etc.)
What you SHOULD NOT throw away in trash:
- Computers and electronic devices (laptop, notebook, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, battery bank, old cellphone, MP3 player, etc.)
- Anything household appliance or electronic device with lithium batteries (microwave oven, coffee maker, alarm clock, etc.)
- lithium batteries
- Paint (oil based or latex)
- Fluorescent lightbulbs
- Lawn and garden chemicals
- Pharmaceuticals (pills or liquids)
- Motor oil
- Engine oils (motor oil, transmission and brake fluids, etc.)
- Toxic chemicals
- Mothballs (they contain pesticides)
- Caustic chemicals
- Gasoline or Diesel
- Adhesives (epoxy
- Vehicle or RV Batteries
- RV components
Should you have any of the above, do not throw them in the trash cans or trash dumpsters. Call the closest municipality to locate the nearest hazardous waste dumps. Or, you can check each town’s or city’s website.
What you SHOULD TRY to RECYCLE:
- Beverage and beer cans
- Plastic soda, beverage and water bottles
- Household cleaning bottles
- Supplement bottles
- Broken down boxes and cartons
- Plastic food containers
- Glass jars and bottles
We highly recommend rinsing or wiping out food remnants as they attract bees and animals.
Many How2Recycle retail members have store drop-off collection bins in their stores; including Target, Walmart, Lidl, and Wegmans! Wherever you see a plastic bag recycling bin in retail stores, you can also recycle your bags, wraps, and films.
Trash Disposal Tips and Reminders
When feasible, separate trash from recycling. It’s also important that you collapse or breakdown all boxes from food product boxes to carton shipping boxes. Squash down all plastic jugs and bottles. And crush cans or aluminum. In other words, minimize your trash footprint by making your garbage smaller.
You can recycle single-use plastic shopping bags by using them as your trash bags. They are the perfect size that will fit into most of the trash cans I’ve listed above.
Most importantly, be considerate, responsible and respectful. Trash cans are intended only for small individual trash items or very small bags of trash.
They are not to be your large kitchen size or hefty trash bags. Don’t think that you beat the system by jamming in 3 or 4 small bags into a trash can. So, be respectful and only dump one small bag of trash.
Of course, if your trash bags, boxes (even collapsed) or containers don’t fit through the trash can opening, never force them or lift off the lid to dispose of your rubbish. Nor, forcibly leave your garbage hanging half out of the can or dumpster.
If you notice the trash dumpster or garbage can is full or overflowing with trash, don’t add to it. It will only make a bigger mess when the garbage truck empties it.
Lastly, never just place your trash near the trash can or dumpster. That’s no different than illegal littering which will get you a fine. Remember, those locations usually have cameras.
Disposing of Large Trash Bags?
What if you have larger family-size or kitchen-size trash bags?
Look for a public dumpster instead at any of the public areas I mentioned earlier in this article. Always make sure there are no labels or signs that read, ‘no dumping’ or ‘no household refuse’. And again, do not dispose of any hazardous waste items or bulky waste such as electronics, batteries, RV parts and components, etc.
Trash Disposal Wrap Up
So, the take away here should be to be responsible about disposing your trash. Always make certain you’re not breaking any trespassing laws or encroach on private property. Keep your refuse small and compact. Recycle when feasible. And, always LEAVE NO TRACE.
LEAVE NO TRACE: Pack in Pack Out Rules of Camping
Overnight RV Parking: Dos and Don’ts of Lotdocking
Where to Find RV Dump Stations and Potable Water
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2 Replies to “Trash Disposal Tips for RVers: Where to Get Rid of the Garbage”
Thank you very much for sharing such helpful info. We have camped for years but are now getting ready to go full time and there are lots more things to consider when full timing it. You have given us lots to consider and it is valuable!
Hi Leslie, thank you for taking the time to read our articles. We’re happy you are finding them helpful and guide you through the whole process. Please take your time and absorb as much as you can. But also, it wouldn’t hurt to bookmark our site for later reference. Enjoy your new journey!