We had some good discussion in the comments of our last post on Minimalism and Frugality. People weighed in on all sides, and I really enjoyed the conversation. One of the points brought up was that living a life with minimal possessions often allows us to spend a little more on the possessions we do need or want. Typically the extra expense would go towards buying higher quality merchandise. Higher quality goods can last longer, work better, or be more attractive.
This brings us to a purchase we made shortly after selling our house and moving into our apartment. It’s an item that every household needs, but doesn’t necessarily put a lot of thought into – a trash can.
Before I move on, I’d like to provide a little background. Growing up, we had a trash can under the kitchen sink. It was smallish and seemed like it was constantly filled to the top. Somehow, even after it was emptied, it seemed to magically fill itself. This trash can had no lid, so removing the bag wasn’t too difficult. Emptying – pretty easy.
Filling, on the other hand, was a bit of a hassle. Being under the sink, there wasn’t much room between the top of the can and the top of the cabinet; maybe six inches at most. It was especially difficult to scrape the table scraps from our plates. Being in the cabinet also meant that you had to open the cabinet each time you wanted to use it. On the plus side, it was hidden out of site.
When my wife, Dream, and I moved into our first house, we decided on a slightly larger trash can that would live in the kitchen, but not under the cabinet. At first it lived in our walk-in pantry. It was kind of in the way there, so we eventually moved it to a tiled section past the end of the counter. This was a 13 gallon trash can, a fairly typically kitchen trash can size. This particular model was made of plastic and had a flip top lid that opened with a foot pedal. It wasn’t particularly attractive, but wasn’t hideous either. The opening of the trash can worked well, nice and smooth.
Our main beef with this trash can (actually my main beef since I’m in charge of trash duty) was the removal and replacement of the trash bag. In order to remove the bag, the lid had to be removed completely. Two little tabs on the lid slid into two little slots and it wasn’t really difficult, but it was annoying. Then when replacing the bag, we had to tuck the bag under the tabs while replacing the lid. Again, not hard, but definitely annoying.
Alas, when we sold the house, Dream decreed the trash can would not be coming with us. And so, we placed it on the curb, hoping the trash collectors would know that we intended to throw it out.
The old can didn’t match our new décor. Since we were giving up our house in favor of an apartment, Dream wanted it to look as nice as possible. Our new apartment contained stainless steel appliances, something that had always been on Dream’s wish list. Now we apparently needed a stainless steel trash can to match.
The only experience I had with stainless steel trash cans were those round cans that opened with a foot pedal. Only open might not be the right word… since the lids are really heavy and tend to jam up on the trash bag. Stomping hard on the pedal causing the lid to spring open with a loud clang might be the more appropriate description. Every one I had ever seen was in front of a scuffed up wall; scuffed from the lid repeatedly springing open and hitting the wall. And since it takes such a hard foot push, it tends to slide towards the wall, exacerbating this problem.
I knew I did not want one of those stainless steel trash cans. So, Dream did a little research and found an alternative. When I came home from work one evening, she told me she found the perfect trash can, made by simplehuman. Only thing is… it cost 100 dollars. YIKES!
My idea of a trash can is 5 or 10 dollars. After all, its only purpose is to hold the trash. Why spend any more on a trash receptacle?
Here is why we spent $100 on a trash can.
1) It’s beautiful. It can sit exposed in the kitchen and look like an attractive part of the décor.
2) It opens like a dream. A light touch of the foot on the shiny pedal and the lid rises gently and silently, rarely striking the wall behind. If it does strike, it’s so gentle that you hardly notice.
3) It closes like no other trash can I have ever seen. It has a gas dampening system that allows the lid to close ever so slowly while remaining completely silent. I have had instances with our old can where Dream would step on the pedal to open the lid, toss her trash in, and I try to quickly sneak in my bit of trash before she removes her foot from the pedal. The result is either a trash can rejection with the trash rebounded to the floor, or my hand caught in it like a tiny bear trap. That never happens now, even if the foot is removed from the pedal, I have a few seconds to sneak my trash in.
4) It has a little red slider that locks the lid open. This is great for changing the bag or for times when we need to throw away a lot of stuff, like during our mini purges.
5) It has an inner plastic liner. It’s almost like a trash can inside of a trash can. The inner plastic liner is where the trash bag goes. The liner is removed and then the trash bag can be removed and replaced easily. This also means that you don’t see the trash bag when the can is closed, as it is neatly fitted to the liner and tucked away inside the outer trash can housing, and the lid will never get caught on the bag like those other inferior trash cans.
6) The liner has a little hole in the back. This is a magical little hole where you stuff the extra bag slack, so that the bag can fit snuggly at the top of the liner.
7) The liner also serves another (possibly unintended) purpose in our household. I have a bad habit of taking the trash out and forgetting to replace the trash bag. With the liner remove and sitting on the kitchen floor, it’s a great reminder to replace the bag.
A trash can was probably the very last thing I would have ever thought to spend a large amount of money on. It was worth it. I’ve gone from hating trash duty to almost enjoying it. This simplehuman trash can is such a joy to use, that I don’t mind so much when it’s time to take out the trash.
One more tip on our trash can in case you find yourself considering one. It comes with special trash bags, but we just use regular draw string bags in ours. We went with the 8 gallon (30L) trash can, which is on the smaller side, but fits well in our apartment. They also make a 10 gallon (38L) if you like a slightly larger size that still uses the kitchen sized trash bags.
I’d love to hear from you. What items have you spent more than you normally would have considered and yet were delighted with the results?