Tuesday, January 03, 2012

taking out the trash

Tuesday is trash day on my street in Salem.

That means that I need to remember to take out the green compost container and the gray trash container on Monday night.  And the blue recycling container every other week.

It is even a bit more complex than that.  There are some additional baskets for glass and other objects.  I know nothing about those baskets.  After three containers, my recycling mood started channeling Mr. Burns from The Simpsons:  “Yes, well, it does sound delightful! I can't wait to start pawing through my garbage like some starving raccoon!”

Our relationship with our garbage adds a bottom to cultures.

We Oregonians do not hide our rather neurotic holier (or, at least. greener) than thou attitude when it comes to recycling.  A Freudian would undoubtedly diagnose the condition as anal retentive.  Lots of neat little piles that eventually end up in a big hole in the ground.

My Mexican neighbors tend to live on the other extreme.  Garbage collection can vary regionally far more than cuisines. 

In Pátzcuaro, the garbage truck seems to arrive on some sort of astral schedule.  (At least, I could never divine any regularity in the truck’s appearance.)  When I filled a trash bag, I had to wait for the sound of the tell-tale cow bell -- and then dash like Jesse Owens to hand off the bag and a gratuity to the trash hauler.

Garbage in  Melaque is a bit simpler.  Whenever I have a full trash bag, I simply put it in the raised brazier in front of my gate.  The truck will pick it up on one of its regular routes -- five days a week.  Efficient and simple.  No pretense of recycling.

As I watched the Salem garbage men arrive in their separate trucks this morning to empty out the color-coded containers and baskets, I started to think about whether I preferred the Melaque or the Salem version.  And then realized it was a silly question.

Both systems work well within their own context.

And that may just be another hint about my own life.


NWexican said...

I still get a chuckle every week when the office garbage guy makes his rounds. He comes through twice, first picking up the "regular trash" depositing it in a standard trash barrel on wheels; he then makes a second pass picking up the "recycle" that we have in our separate, specially labeled, recycle can and deposits that in a completely different trash can on wheels. PUNCH LINE: Once once he has all of our regular and redycle garbage collcted he dumps it all into the same dumpster outside. Only in Norte America..

Steve Cotton said...

Mr. Burns is seldom wrong.

brenda said...

Off topic; but just read this article tonight.


Steve Cotton said...

Wow. Sad. I need to follow up on this.

Mcotton said...

I am so sorry to read the news that Brenda sent.

Don Cuevas said...

Out here on the Rancho, garbage collection is supposed to be every Wednesday. But the big truck didn't come after the Nov. 16 local election. A neighbor said it was because all the municipal funds for trash collection had been used to buy votes. We waited for another week, and they came.

Similarly, after Christmas, there was no trash pickup. We speculated that the trash collectors were either on holiday, or the funds had been depleted to pay aguinaldos (year end bonuses).

Saludos,Don Cuevas 

Kwallelno said...

The landfills are the mines of the future, fill them up! I read a news story that they are mining the Fishkills site in New York Harbor now, at least the older parts that are full of metal. Those old landfills will be a big resource in our future. Now I'm a big fan of high quality liners for the future mineral deposits, some of that stuff we throw away is pretty toxic.   

Steve Cotton said...

Yes.  It is unfortunate that there is violence in every community throughout the world.

Steve Cotton said...

But that is one iof the joys of Mexico.  Everything is performance art.

Steve Cotton said...

I never thought of that. We are building our own cultural time capsules.