Burning your household garbage is dangerous to your health and our environment, and generally against the law in Minnesota. If you're still using a burn barrel, wood stove, or fire-pit for your trash, it's time for a change.
1. Stop burning your garbage.
2. Find local services for recycling and garbage disposal in your county.
What’s the problem?
Burning household garbage in burn barrels, stoves, and fire pits creates pollution that's dangerous to human health and contaminates the air, water, and soil. It's also against the law for most homeowners in Minnesota.
Small fires mean big trouble. Typical home fires are small and inefficient. They produce a lot of smoke, as well as a variety of toxic substances—even burning seemingly harmless materials like paper.
- Garbage has changed. Today's household trash contains a lot of plastics and paper treated with chemicals, coatings, and inks.
- Smoke. Pollutants from backyard burning of trash are released primarily into the air, and close to ground level where they are easily inhaled—with no pollution controls!
- Ash that remains contains concentrated amounts of these toxic materials that can blow away or seep into the soil and groundwater.
The law. For most Minnesotans, it is against the law to burn or bury household garbage—it's been illegal since the 1980s. Many counties are closing remaining loopholes in state law by passing no-burn/no-bury resolutions for all residents.
What you can do
First, stop burning garbage—not even at the cabin or in the campfire.
Use local garbage and recycling services. Find a trash hauler or local drop off sites. Separate your metal, glass, plastic, and paper, and more for the programs in your area.
Reduce waste. Compost or chip yard waste; buy items with less packaging.
Educate your family and neighbors about the hazards of trash burning. In a Minnesota survey, 33% of respondents still burn household wastes. You share the same air and water with everyone in your community!