Guidelines for Waste Management

Since normal waste management systems like trash services and sewage plants may not be functioning during a catastrophe, it’s important to think about the ways that we can manage waste ourselves to keep our communities clean and sanitary.

multicolored recycling bins with icons indicating their purpose

Here are some guidelines for how to manage waste successfully.

Septic Tank

Install a large septic tank with an extensive drainage field on your property. Septic tanks are individually controlled rather than being controlled by the local government (like shared sewage systems); therefore, your own septic tank will still function even if the government has shut down. Having a large septic tank means that you’ll have plenty of space for your home’s waste, and an extensive drainage field allows that waste to be safely disposed of.

Sanitation Supplies

Stock up on essential sanitation supplies like bleach, steramine tablets, and toilet paper. Bleach is a great way to deal with the sanitation of waste in a safe and economical way. Steramine Quaternary sanitizing tablets are also smart to have around because each bottle produces 150 gallons of cleaning product. Toilet paper is another essential to have on hand, though an even better alternative to toilet paper is installing a bidet in your bathroom to cut down on waste.


Incinerating trash is an efficient and inexpensive way to manage waste, but it’s important to consider its effects before using it as your primary method of waste management. Burning waste produces assorted gases and ash that can be harmful to inhale. Use a filter to cut down on pollution, and make sure that nothing that you incinerate will release toxic or deadly fumes into the air.


If you’re trying to become self-sufficient by cultivating food sources on your property, composting is an awesome way to dispose of waste and enrich your soil at the same time. The process of composting is slow and takes up a lot of land, but it significantly improves the fertility of the soil.

Infectious Waste

Infectious or hazardous medical wastes require special treatment to make them safe to handle before they are disposed of. Waste that needs to be disinfected includes the following items:

  • Used needles, blades, etc
  • Blood and body fluids
  • Items that carry body fluids (bandages, swabs, other wastes)
  • Other items contaminated with body fluids, blood or feces
  • Feces of people with infectious diseases (such as cholera)
  • Bedding from all persons

The proper way to disinfect each of these things varies, so take a look at this article from American Preppers Network that explains how to treat each type of waste effectively.

Check out our blog for other resources on prepping for disasters.