Thursday, November 1, 2012

Simple Suggestion #143... Give a thought to your garbage guys and gals

When we got home from Jasper on the weekend, I noticed a line of garbage bags along my neighbour's back fence... autumn leaves from her yard clean up, which I promptly "borrowed" for my compost pile. As I lugged six bags to my storage area beside our garage, I decided that this week would be a good time to post this suggestion, which, I admit, is mostly for city dwellers, or towns where garbage is collected by people in waste management services.

Our garbage collectors work really hard, and their work often takes serious tolls on their bodies. But if ordinary citizens like you and me think about what we can do to make their jobs safer, no one gets hurt and everyone wins. So here's a quick list of things to keep in mind that can make life a lot better for your garbage guys:

1. Ensure easy access to your garbage area. If in an alleyway, keep the path between truck and cans clear. If on a street, try to keep vehicles parked away from collection points.

2. Make sure your cans have fixed handles. Moving handles can wrench wrists.

3. Stationary cans (without wheels) are less likely to cause back injuries.

4. Keeping bags under 40 lbs (20 kg) also saves backs.

5. Sharp things should be packaged in a way that they can't cut collectors. Put broken glass and other sharp items into labelled, puncture-proof boxes or containers.

6. Grasscycle and compost if you can. The guys really don't mind picking up FEWER grass clippings and leaves.

Here's a great little 4 minute video that tells you everything your garbage collector wants you to know. And even if your area doesn't have garbage collectors, giving some thought to your garbage now and then is good for the planet... but that's another moodling for another day.


  1. Hi there Maria!
    Being a part-time collector myself, I can agree with all your suggestions and everything mentioned in the short video for making your collectors life a little easier. One more thing I can add is to try the "buddy-up" system, where you partner up with your neighbours and put your waste out together at the same spot on collection day. I can say from experience that it is much easier on my body (and my truck as well as, most importantly, the environment)to make fewer stops. It saves time, conserves energy, and helps prolong the life of the collection truck which in turn, helps reduce the amount of emissions being emitted into the neighbourhood its' in.
    One more thing I just thought of is that if you yourself have a hard time getting your waste to the curb because it is so heavy or awkward, your collector is probally going to have a hard time with it as well. Now imagine if everyone who put out waste that day had heavy or awkward items and multiply that by the hundreds of stops made on a regular route. That can amount to alot of unnecessary wear and tear on your collector.
    Thanks Maria for posting this entry today! I agree that it is worthwhile to give your collectors some thought once in awhile. One of my favourite parts of being a collector is when residents smile or wave back at me when I'm on my truck...that brief connection through waste and disposing of it properly for all parties involved is what I feel it's all about. A little bit of kindness and consideration goes along way in making sure we are all doing what is in the best interests of ourselves, our collectors, and ultimately the environment and this amazing world we all live in and share.
    Cheers, Laurie Taylor

    1. Thanks, Laurie! More great ideas to keep in mind. And I'll change the post to "Garbage guys and gals..."

    2. another super-fantastic-awesome blog post!
      i also appreciate how responsive you are to your comments and correct/change things when required....nice job......
      this one on garbage gals and guys goes on twitter tomorrow!

      supersu :)

    3. Thanks, Supersu! Keep on spreading the MC/R word!

  2. Great message! My son was a garbage collector and it is a very hard job. He always had nice stories to tell of the people who went out of their way to thank him. One lady dashed out on a cold wintry morning with freshly made cookies for him. And at Christmas he would often find envelopes taped to the garbage cans with Christmas cards and a little spending money in them. It always made his day when someone acknowledged his hard work.

  3. They definitely deserve our thanks!


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