Difference between Garbage and Trash

Key Difference: Garbage and trash both refer to waste products. However, garbage as a word is generally associated with waste products that can be decomposed by the microorganisms and trash is generally associated with the other types of waste products that do not decompose or decay.

Garbage and trash are two words that are often used interchangeably and thus, there seems to be no distinction between these words. In various dictionaries, they are defined as synonymous. However, they both are generally used in two different contexts. The similarity between garbage and trash is that both refer to waste products; things that are no longer of any use.

Oxford Dictionary defines Garbage as ‘rubbish or waste, especially domestic refuse’


Trash as ‘waste material; refuse’

Therefore, there seem to be a little difference between them. They may also be used interchangeably. But when the phrase ‘garbage and trash’ is used, then it indicates that there is a difference between them. Keeping this phase in consideration, this article might assist you in making the distinction.

Garbage, the word is generally used in context to any solid waste that is derived or obtained from animal, grain, fruit or vegetable. Garbage is often kept apart from other types of waste as these wastes are capable of being decomposed by the microorganisms. Thus, garbage is mostly associated with the waste product obtained from the kitchen. In America and Canada, garbage is used as a synonym for ‘rubbish’.

On the other hand, trash is generally used in context of combustible and non combustible waste materials. The combustible waste materials can be a paper, wood, furniture, rubber, plastic, etc, whereas noncombustible trash consists of waste like glass, tin, aluminum, etc. The non combustible trash requires specific high temperatures to burn.

The use of these words may vary from one place to another. Thus, we cannot say that there is a hard and fast rule to define them.

In addition to referring to waste products, these words are also used in connotation to anything worthless, inferior, cheap, rubbish, unwanted or stupid in the literary sense. For example:-

  1. Garbage (Trashy) thoughts are dangerous for the mind.
  2. He is talking garbage (trash).
  3. He is not interested in doing anything; he is trash (garbage).
  4. She is fond of giving her garbage (trashy) opinions to everyone.

Image Courtesy: apartmenttherapy.com, commons.wikimedia.org

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