A Really Trashy Story

Recently, trash, specifically garbage type trash, has been a focal point in our kitchen. What happened?
When I was a child the only thing collected at the curb was garbage. Real garbage like orange peels, egg shells, potato peels, meat pieces, and the rest of the smelly stuff. There was a triangular plastic bin, about 8 inches on the 2 sides, with holes in the bottom, and a shelf below to catch drippings. That sat in the sink and was then dumped daily into a metal pail lined with newspaper and with a lid, outside. The pails were put out once a week and the “garbage men” came by in a truck and dumped the contents of the pail into the truck. The rest of the trash was burned, in the backyard incinerator, which was a concrete or brick chimney into which you dumped the paper, set it on fire, and watched smoke come out of the chimney.

As the 1950s went on and the word SMOG developed, burning trash was no longer allowed and people had to put their trash in some type of barrel, next to the garbage, for weekly pickup, where it was taken to huge incinerators, run by the city, to be burned, and which was supposed to be so much better than individual backyard burning. The next transition was to be able to put all of the trash together and the city would haul it to a landfill somewhere. We all know about landfills.
The type and size of the trash bins were left up to the homeowner and there weren’t too many standards. We had a friend who worked where they used barrels of dry chemicals and he supplied many of his friends with the empty barrels. Imagine the fellows who had the job of picking up the barrels and dumping them into the trash trucks. Every barrel was different – cardboard, metal, plastic, some with lids, some without, most without handles – you can imagine the work related injury claims.
After a while, I think in the 80s, cities began to give out barrels and trash became automated. A decade or so later trash was sorted into black bins for trash, and green bins for greenery and later later the blue recycle bin was added. At our house the blue recycle bin is often full, we use 2 greenery bins and 1 is always full and usually the second bin is partially full. The smaller black trash bin is often not even half full.
However, it is that black bin that causes us no end of trials because over the last few years we seemed to have developed a “smelly trash” problem in the house. Since clean paper all goes into the recycle bin, trash consists of garbage that doesn’t go down the disposal, meat wrappers, and food containers that don’t meet the criteria for recycled. How do you keep the trash from smelling? It is especially important as my kitchen doesn’t have an obvious place for a good sized trash bin. It won’t fit under the sink – the disposal and the reverse osmosis units take up too much space. There is a small cubby at the end of a cabinet and that is where the can sits, with its plastic liner and foot pedal to open the top. I’m clued in enough that meat packages go into a grocery plastic bag and directly to the outdoor black trash bin. Everything that can go down the disposal does. But that smelly trash. Ugh.
Thinking about when this smelly problem started made me realize that it coincided with the remodel of our house and some cabinet changes in the kitchen. Then it really dawned on me – that is also when hubby and I were both retired and home for three meals a day. Duh, now we have a lot more garbage type trash. Maybe we need to get in the habit of taking out the trash every day or two. Maybe a small trash bin under the sink would have worked better than the larger bin by the doorway. But really, how much trash do two adults create? Apparently enough to make it smell.

I’m thinking that what we might need is a gadget that has a roll of bags and much like automated cat litter bags, once there is a certain amount of trash, the bag rolls out and closes around it, keeping at least the worst of the smell away.
Meanwhile, we are dumping the garbage more often and that seems to be working well. But really, how much thought should trash and garbage take in daily life.

Every Day Is A Good Day – VJ


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