The title of this blog entry is not about me donning spandex to fight injustice superhero like nor is it about vigilante justice – as much as there are some companies and organisations who are driving me spare right now. No, nothing as exciting or creative as that. This blog is literally about taking out the trash.
Trash collection is quite different here in the Pennsylvanian town we have landed up in compared to in the remote, rural community we left in Scotland. In Scotland, regular household waste was picked up weekly and paper recycling was picked up fortnightly. We had to take responsibility for all other recycling so our back garden contained three different boxes – for metal, plastic and glass – which we had to transport to the dump every time they filled up. We are not eco-warriors by any stretch but we are eco-conscious so we did not object to the hassle or effort involved but I am pretty confident that more people there would have recycled had there been kerb side collection of such materials. Here, not only does the township collect all of the recycling but it can all be put in one bin. No sorting of materials required. It is also collected weekly. I cannot be bothered to track down the evidence but I would guess that more households recycle here as a result.
Another difference is that the whole bin collection process is automated. Back in Scotland, the bin men would walk alongside the lorry to hoik the bins onto the back of the lorry and have them flip their contents inside the lorry. Here, a solo driver scoots the lorry alongside the kerb and a mechanical arm comes out to grab the bin, toss its contents inside, and then deposit the bin back on the roadside. I have no preference because, frankly, I don’t really care how my rubbish is collected as long as it is. I am merely noting the difference.
The third thing is that here, in the appropriate season at least, the township comes to collect leaves. This is a great thing because our back garden is absolutely littered with leaves. Every three weeks we can gather them up into a large pile on the roadside and then a truck visits with a man operating a giant vacuum that sucks all the leaves up. My 4 year old finds it quite fascinating.
One area of rubbish collection is definitely better in Scotland, however, is access to dumps and recycling centres. In Scotland we could take any surplus rubbish, recycling, old electrical items and such like to the town dump where it would then be processed. Here we appear not to have any access. As a result, since we just moved here and have had to buy new things, we have a load of flattened cardboard boxes stored in the basement which we are gradually getting rid of by shoving them in the recycling bin so long as it is not already full. It’s weird that they don’t seem to permit householders to dispose of that stuff in any direct way. Apparently we can contact the township if we have any bulky items to dispose of – old furniture, for instance – and they come and collect it but I can’t help thinking they have missed an efficiency trick there by not just allowing people to go along and deposit their own waste.