W16 Household waste


All households produce some waste. This may include food waste, paper, plastics, tins, batteries and broken tools and equipment. Paper can be recycled or used for lighting fires. Old cans or cut-up plastic bottles can be used for growing tree seedlings. Vegetable waste can be placed in compost heaps or pits and turned regularly to produce good compost for use in home gardens. Some rubbish can be burned but avoid burning plastics, aerosols or batteries. They can release poisonous chemicals and aerosols can explode.

Dispose of other waste at a convenient distance from the home. Rubbish pits are the best and safest way of disposing of household waste. They remove household waste from view and keep unpleasant smells, flies and rats away from the home.

Pits should be about the size of two doors (2 x 2–3 metres) and one metre deep. This size will last an average household several years. Pits should be dug at least 20 metres from water supplies and 20 metres from homes. They should be dug on higher ground in wet areas so they are less likely to fill with water during the rainy season. Cover the rubbish regularly with a thin layer of soil to avoid smells and reduce flies. Build a fence or hedge to keep out young children and animals.


  • Where do people usually dispose of household waste? Does this cause any problems?
  • What kind of household waste cannot be used or recycled?
  • Why should rubbish pits not be too close to homes? Will it mean people are less likely to use them?
  • Why should rubbish pits be kept so far away from water sources?
  • Would it be better for several households to share a pit or should each household have their own rubbish pit? Who should be responsible for planning, for digging and for maintaining the pit?
  • If possible, following discussion and agreement, dig and maintain a rubbish pit.
  • When a rubbish pit is full, how can its site be marked to avoid people digging it up again?