Survival Skills

What to do with Garbage and How to Compost After a SHTF Crisis

trash after disaster

Take a minute and imagine what a city might look like while recovering from a major crisis. You don’t have to image too hard. Just look at some images of places after hurricane Katrina, super storm Sandy, any other major natural disaster.


trash after disaster


There is trash and waste literally everywhere. Any time you find waste or trash you will find bacteria, viruses and pests like rats, bats, and even fleas.



Why not gather any plant material, left over food, and animal waste and use it to create compost to start homesteading? This kills two birds with one stone. First off you are cleaning up the area and secondly you are creating some great fertilizer to start growing your own food.


Survivopedia has some great tips on handling more of the trash and what to do with it:


Burning Waste

One of the most immediate solutions you might think of would be to burn solid waste and garbage materials. On a small scale, burning refuse can be a suitable method of disposal, especially for excess wood, paper products, and other plant materials. Unfortunately, burning more toxic materials such as plastics, oils, industrial chemicals, and so on is not such a good idea, nor is it always possible.

Burying Waste

If you have the space, burying solid wastes that you cannot otherwise dispose of may be an option. You’d still want to be careful about what you buried, especially in terms of harmful liquids or potent chemicals, but burial is a viable option for many solid wastes. Burial is also the option of choice for disposing of human waste, as in the case of an outhouse or latrine. Unless you have a septic system that you’re able to maintain, you’ll likely need an outhouse.

Recycling Waste

Another thing to consider is that in a post-SHTF scenario you probably won’t be throwing out nearly as much as you imagine. Aside from some various packaging materials from whatever preps you already have, such as food, barter items, etc., you’re unlikely to have much trash. Metal and glassware can be sanitized and reused, or melted and used for new materials. Even if you can’t melt and recast such materials yourself, it’s quite likely that someone within the community will be able to and that such materials will be tradable and have some value.

Urban Wasteland

Unfortunately, an urban area is liable to be something of a cesspool when it comes to trash and how various waste is handled, especially during the first few weeks or months after a disaster. Depending on how people choose to act, the streets are likely to be contaminated with trash, refuse and sewage. In other words, it will be hugely unsanitary. Your best bet will be to maintain a sanitary perimeter around your property, or home, to the best of your ability.

Protection from Sewer Overflow

When the sewers get backed up and stop functioning, you might be surprised to find contaminated sewer waste flowing up through your shower and bath drains, through your toilets and even through your sinks. You can protect your home from this sort of contamination by having a sewer non-return valve installed on your sewer line. A sewer non-return valve is also highly recommended for anyone who lives in a flood-prone area.

Disposing of the Dead

This is not a nice topic to cover, but considering that we’re discussing a serious post-SHTF type of scenario, it seems prudent to mention how to handle the dead in such a situation. Hopefully you’ll never actually have to dispose of a dead body, or bodies, but the likelihood exists following a serious disaster or collapse of society. In the event of societal breakdown or collapse, the number of dead can be expected to steadily increase for a while as people die of starvation, dehydration, and both chronic and acute diseases.


 What kinds of ideas do you have for disposing of waste after a SHTF situation? Let us know on our Facebook page or on Twitter.



  1. Cory @aquarianbath

    November 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Composting with key hole gardens is a really great option.

    After reading the book One Second After, I wondered why they didn’t just burn the bodies. It would reduce calorie consumption required to bury the bodies. Also the ash is good for gardening. Practical if not appealing.

  2. Pingback: Looking after Your Family in a Disaster | Freedom Prepper

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