February 21, 2010

One Man's Garbage - Winnipeg & Garbage, 2010 (by Margaret Ullrich)

Last Thursday, Garbage Day, a friend and I took a walk in our neighborhood. We've lived here almost 22 years, raised our kids, made perogies at church. The usual stuff.

We noticed the new garbage carts. They did look tidy, lined up like black fence posts. There wasn't anything near them. We didn't have a clue about what anybody was throwing out.

We started reminiscing about garbage finds.

One of the nice things about the old garbage system was that it gave you a choice about how private you wanted to be. The smelly, real garbage that for sure nobody would want was safely packed away in bags.

But then there were items that fell into a gray area.

The person who was tossing them knew they were still usable. But they'd been outgrown or were being replaced by a gift or an upgrade. At any rate, the original owner didn't want them any more. They were garage sale quality.

But, who'd go to the trouble of holding a garage sale for a couple of items?

It wasn't worth the bother of making cardboard signs and sitting outside a whole day to get rid of a small bookcase or filing cabinet. And who has the space to waste to let enough crap pile up until it was worth having a garage sale? I mean, we're not talking about hoarders here.

The gray area stuff was usually placed neatly next to the garbage bags a day or two before collection day. Time to give neighbors a chance to browse and return with a baba buggy or red wagon if the item was heavy.

The original owner didn't worry about losing a couple of bucks. He figured it would all even out eventually. Today someone would take his bookcase. Next month he'd take someone's table lamp. No point counting pennies. It was just being neighborly.

Now the simple trading system is gone. An item that might have found a new home is going to be hauled away along with the really trashy stuff. Things that could have been recycled in someone else's home are going to the land fill site.

We also watched the monster truck line up to empty a cart. It's quite an operation. We live on the north side of Burrows. Our back lanes are too narrow for the more efficient huge dumpsters they have on the south side. Here the truck has to do a few wiggles to get lined up for each and every individual house's garbage cart.

We remembered how we used to see the fellows toss bags while the truck went at a very slow crawl along the back lanes. True, by putting some people out of work the new system is saving on salaries. But we wondered how much fuel the truck would be using to do all that forward/backward wiggling to get into position to do the deed.

In the new system there isn't anyone to line up a cart that isn't exactly in position to be emptied. We'd heard some folks complain that their carts had been left full with the previous week's garbage. God knows where they put another week's garbage.

This is progress?

Have a great day. How can you miss - you're in Winnipeg!

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