Opinion

Dealing with garbage has become complicated

I was looking through the latest continuing education catalogue recently. There are very informative and interesting courses available but alas, the one I was looking for was not there. I need the one titled, “How to Sort and Organize Garbage and Recycling For Garbage Day.” It is getting to be a very complicated task.

I have three different-sized garbage cans and a recycling blue box. I have yellow plastic bags and blue plastic bags but I can only put dry newspaper in the plastic bags. I have to put wet kitchen scraps in paper bags. Leaves and branches go in another container, and cans and cartons go somewhere else.

Old electronics go to a special place but some only take little stuff and the big stuff has to go somewhere else. Batteries and printer cartridges go to a different recycling centre, but not car batteries. They go to a car battery recycling place.

Even if you drive up to the good old dump, you have to sort the garbage in your truck and drive over the entire site dropping branches here, metal there, mattresses in that pile and propane cylinders in that bin.

Every week I wonder what would happen if I just jammed it all in one bag like the good old days. Do we have regional or municipal refuse inspectors who lift the lids and open the bags? Would a wrongly placed banana peel attract a $200 fine? I just don’t want to take the chance.

It’s only a matter of time until we see some bright entrepreneurs like ‘Bob’s Recycling Organization and Gutter Cleaning.’ We will just dump everything in the back yard, and each week Bob will charge us $25 to sort our garbage and, twice a year, he’ll clean our gutters. You see, we all believe in recycling but once it becomes work, it’s just easier for us to pay someone to do it.

Many years ago in Langley, the garbage was handled by a very colourful gentleman by the name of Bill Hamon and his boys. Bill made no bones about the fact he was the garbage man. They had a fleet of old garbage trucks retired from New Westminster or Burnaby, and they ran rain, sleet or snow.

They had a large acreage out on 88 Avenue, where the graveyard of old trucks grew each year. In the tire shop we drew short straws to see who would drive out there to take two tires from a truck that wasn’t running to put on the front of one that was.

You could put garbage out in cardboard boxes, burlap sacks or Buckerfield feed bags and it got picked up. The only sorting they did was to separate the beer bottles and pop bottles and throw them in the side bins. My Dad delivered their milk and said when the cases of bottles were gone from the side of the garage, the milk bill got paid.

You knew the garbage had been picked up because the bags were gone and there was a pool of diesel fuel, engine oil and hydraulic fluid where the truck had stopped. Environmentally, I guess that was the trade-off.

Now, three different big diesel-powered trucks pick up my diligently-sorted garbage. I guess that’s a trade-off as well.

Remember we were only asked to look after this place for our grandkids, so do it right. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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