Once a week, an old-fashioned metal trash can sits at the bottom of the Brady driveway in Shasta, Calif.
Just one 30-gallon trash can. Not two. Not three. One.And, because it's not usually full, it's light enough for Alan Brady to carry down the family's long steep driveway.
While other households set out virtual arsenals of trash containers every week, the Bradys make a concerted effort to keep their trash to a minimum.
So do the Klaseens of Redding. They're a one-can-a-week clan, too, typically not filling their city-issued trash container.
"We filled it after having a wedding reception and the week after Christmas," admitted Ted Klaseen.
Keeping the volume of trash down doesn't just happen, members of these families say.
"It's a conscious choice that we made. It does take a bit of work, but it takes away some of the guilt," said Alan Brady, who is joined in his effort by his wife Joanne and three daughters - Kelly, 12; Sarah, 9; and Lindsey, 5.
Alan Brady's philosophy emerged, in part, after visiting some landfills years ago. The immenseness of what he saw had a permanent impact.
The family's approach to minimizing trash has evolved over the years, but for Joanne Brady, it kicked in big-time shortly after Kelly was born.
"I used disposables (diapers) for a couple of months and I felt guilty," she said. "That's when we really got into it."
Klaseen's effort comes from a longstanding environmental ethic of not wasting resources and believing that "the more mess you make, the more you have to spend to clean it up."
So Klaseen, along with his wife Vi and his grown son Nels, does what he can to keep his conscience clean.
No one can be serious about trash reduction without being serious about recycling. The Bradys and Klaseens are no exceptions.
Tucked inside the Brady kitchen cabinets is one container for paper and cardboard and another for plastics, glass and cans.
"They're just as accessible as the garbage can," Joanne Brady said.
Once a week, the paper and cardboard are transferred to huge dishwasher-size boxes in the garage, where it's kept until Alan Brady takes it to an area recycling center.
When shopping, they buy refills when they can and stay away from Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastics as much as possible. (Joanne Brady says when the family eats in a restaurant, they take their own container for "doggy bag" leftovers.)
In addition, Joanne Brady says they "tend to buy things packaged in boxes and in things that are recyclable."
The Brady children are definitely part of the effort. The two oldest girls share responsibility for carrying kitchen scraps out to the compost pile. And all three girls help work in the family's summertime vegetable garden.
Alan Brady said recycling has become a way of life for the kids.
"I see it in their behavior; they've picked it up," he said. "It's just become part of the disposal process."
The Klaseens also collect organic kitchen scraps. When the small red plastic bin in their sink fills up, one of the Klaseens steps out on the deck and pitches the lot into a 32-inch-by- 32-inch compost bin below.
"We have to aim well at night," Klaseen said wryly.
The compost bin is also where much of the yard refuse goes. Weeds - except Bermuda and Johnson grass - go into the bin, while wood scraps from pruning are stacked on the wood pile as fuel for the wood stove, Klaseen said.
Dennis Carvalho, solid waste supervisor for the city of Redding, said yard waste can mount up if just dumped into trash cans.
A study conducted several years ago by the city indicated 22 percent of residential waste was yard clippings, Carvalho said, so the city instituted a yard waste collection program.
The "green waste" is ground, aerated, processed and sold as mulch, said Kim Stempien, also a solid waste supervisor.
Stempien said Redding customers are allowed up to six containers (50 pounds each) weekly for yard waste. Filled plastic bags are not accepted.
She also said that active waste reduction starts with making choices at the store. Because only Nos. 1 and 2 plastics are currently recyclable, consumers should try to avoid all others.
"If it's glass vs. No. 5 plastic, choose the glass," she said.
Several factors influence a family's trash production, Stempien said.
"Part of it is income based. Someone with more disposable income can purchase more and have more waste. Also family size affects waste," she added.
"Part of it also depends on the era in which they were born. If they were in the Depression, they put out less waste than someone from the '70s who does a lot of spending and buying," Stempien said.
Awareness is also a key factor, she added.
Alan Brady agrees. "With a little bit of space and access to a community recycling center, there's no excuse for people not doing it," he said.
Betty Lease writes for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif.