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When you’re living in an RV, some of the most everyday things can become a bit more challenging. Showering when water is limited, for instance, or cooking a meal when the propane runs out. Another thing that can be challenging? Garbage.

Finding a camping trash can that works well in your rig can be a gigantic pain in the neck, and figuring out how to dispose of trash while boondocking is another challenge entirely. In today’s article we are going to tackle both of these issues so you can enjoy your RV life without all the trash. 

Camping trash can surrounded by paper

Finding the Right Camping Trash Can

First things first, let’s find a camping trash can that works well for your rig. Having the right trash can can make all the difference in the world when it comes to disposing of garbage in your RV. 

Find the Right Size

Sometimes all it takes to find the ideal trash can for your situation is a bit of shopping around for something that is the perfect size. If you have an odd-shaped nook, measure it and see if you can find a camping trash can to fit. There are tall skinny trash cans out there, as well as plenty of super short options. You might even be able to use a storage container or some other box to use as a trash can. 

Stick It under a Cabinet

Sometimes it’s best to store the trash can out of sight. If this is your preference, you might consider an over-the-door trash can that lives under your cabinet. We love that these types of trash cans are out of the way and hidden from sight, but you should keep in mind that they are quite small, meaning you’ll have to take out the trash more regularly. 

Mount It on the Wall

Another option if you don’t mind a smaller camping trash can is to get a wall- or cabinet-mounted can. Yes, these are teeny tiny, but we love that they live on the wall, meaning they don’t take up any valuable floor space at all. 

Try a Seat Back Trash Can

The seat back trash can is another tiny camping trash can option, but it works well, especially if you have a super small rig such as a campervan. Simply mount this can to the back of one of the front seats to get it up and out of the way. We love that it has convenient storage pockets too!

Consider a Collapsible Camping Trash Can

This collapsible camping trash can is ideal if you’re looking for something to put outside once you arrive at your campsite. It folds down super small so it’s easy to store, but is quite large when popped up so it holds a lot of trash. Just make sure you have some way to weigh the can down, as the wind might just carry it away. 

Empty can sitting on the beach

Disposing of Garbage while Boondocking

Now that you have the perfect camping trash can in your home-on-wheels, the next step is figuring out where to dispose of the trash once the can is full. If you’re staying in a campground or RV park, this is easy enough—just head to the campground dumpster. That said, when you’re camping off-grid, things get a little bit more difficult. 

You see, most dry camping spots do not have a place to dispose of garbage, so those who boondock regularly have to get a little creative. Here are our top tips for emptying your camping trash can while staying off-grid. 

Skip the Packaging when Possible

The first step you can take is pretty simple: Just avoid bringing trash into the RV. The best way to go about this is to avoid purchasing food that is sold in lots of packaging. Fresh fruits and veggies usually come without packaging, and the packaging found on meats tends to be minimal. Additionally, some stores allow shoppers to bring their own containers from home and fill them with bulk foods.

By choosing package-free foods, you 1) reduce the amount of trash you have to get rid of while boondocking, 2) live a greener life, and 3) likely cut out a lot of processed foods that aren’t really good for you anyway. 

Dispose of Packaging at the Store

Of course, you won’t be able to avoid all packaging all the time. When you do buy something that comes in a box or a bag, dispose of as much of the packaging as you can at the store. 

Most stores have garbage cans in their parking lots and many even have recycle bins available in the front of the store. You can strip your foods of unnecessary packaging right there in your car and let the store deal with the resulting waste. 

Compost what You Can

Fruit and vegetable peelings, uneaten food, and other organic matter that needs to be disposed of doesn’t have to take up room in your trash can. Instead, grab a well-sealed countertop compost bin and compost these items. When the compost is ready, it can be left on the ground pretty much anywhere, making it easy to dispose of. 

Burn Paper Products

Some kinds of trash can be added to a campfire, removing the need to find a trash can to toss them into. We find that this works well with paper and cardboard, as these items burn nicely without giving off a stench or releasing potentially toxic fumes into the air. Unfortunately, plastics and styrofoam really shouldn’t be burned. 

Watch for Trash Cans and Recycle Bins in Public Places

Okay, so you’ve shopped for package-free foods, composted organic material, and burned paper products. What should you do with the rest? Look for places to get rid of it, of course. 

Most gas stations and rest stops provide garbage cans where you can dump your camping trash cans, and some even have recycle bins where you can get rid of cans and bottles. Grocery stores are another place to look, and in some cases you’ll find trash cans outside of gyms, libraries, and other places you visit on a day-to-day basis.

Make a habit of keeping your eyes peeled. You might just be surprised by how many trash cans you pass in a given day.

Book a Campground Stay

If you have a lot of trash built up in your camping trash can and you don’t want to go out searching for a public dumpster to put it all in, it might just be time to book a campground stay. Even just a single night at a campground will allow you to dump your trash, dump and clean your tanks, refill your fresh water, squeeze in a shower, and leave feeling refreshed and ready for the next adventure. 

There you have it, everything you need to know to find the perfect camping trash can and dump that can once it’s full. With this info, you should be able to join the world of RVers without any trash cluttering your experience. 

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