When the trash can is trash

When we bought this house five years ago, we discovered that the previous owners had left behind more than just appliances and cans of paint. In the basement we found a large desk with a manual typewriter, a variety of tools and hardware, some knickknacks, and more. Items left in the garage included car batteries, garden hose, garden tools, a broken tricycle, and I forget what else. Plus two trash cans.

They are black plastic trash cans, the kind with wheels so that you don’t have to carry or drag the can out to the curb. Except that these two don’t have the wheels anymore, so not only can’t they be rolled to the curb, they won’t even stand up. We tried to put them out for the trash collectors to pick up. But as many people have discovered, it’s not that easy to get rid of a broken trash can.

Every April, our town has a spring clean-up week, when you can leave almost anything at the curb to be picked up. (There are limits – hazardous wastes will not be taken.) It’s common to see mattresses, broken recliners, worn-out sofas, appliances, along with boxes and boxes and bags and bags of trash. It’s also common to see pickup trucks slowly driving up and down the streets. Some look for scrap metal (I’ve had metal items taken from my curb almost as soon as I had put them down). Others look for useful items that someone else didn’t want.

I got an email today from a friend who told how he had to resist the urge to dig through other people’s trash. He gawks at the piles of trash, but doesn’t stop – even when his children begged him, last year, to get the console TV and foosball game someone threw out. This year he told about seeing an electric palm tree. “It took incredible courage to pass that one up,” he says.

I haven’t noticed whether other people’s piles of trash include broken trash cans, but each year we try to get rid of ours. We put them among the larger junk, away from the good trash cans with their normal load of kitchen trash. But later in the day, when the other junk is taken, those wheel-less trash cans remain.

Until this year. Yesterday I filled one of them with the smalls lengths of wood left from our work in the basement last year. I left it lying by the edge of the road, along with the longer lengths of wood and the broken tricycle. This evening I came home, put away the blue trash can and noted with satisfaction that all the wood was gone. Only later did it occur to me that the black trash can was gone also. (If only I had put out both of them!)

People come up with interesting ways to try to dispose of trash cans. Here are a few suggestions. Here are some other ideas. Now I have a year until next year’s spring clean-up to decide what to do with my other trashed trash can.

3 Responses to When the trash can is trash

  1. Margaret says:

    I knew there were advantages (plus disadvantages, of course) to living in an apartment, but this is something I never thought of. I just put all my trash in the Dumpster. If I had a trashy trash can, I would put it in there too. Maybe you could sneak into an apartment complex and put your can in their Dumpster when nobody is looking (so they don’t try to fine you for illegal dumping as a nonresident)? (And here you thought your sister was strictly law-abiding?)

  2. Peter L says:

    I once had an old can the trash men would not take. I finally had to tape a note to the lid.

    Now we have a trash company provided roll away.

  3. modestypress says:

    Trash cans should be made so they eventually dissolve by themselves.

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