Dave

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Update: Automated Trash Pick-up...

A while back my wife and I attended a Town Hall meeting held at The Lodge of the Great Northwest so the the City of San Antonio could present information on the new automated curbside recycle and garbage collection system. I recall that there were lots of concerns from people about only having garbage collection one day a week instead of two. The city folks assured them that people already on the program have had sufficient room to toss all their junk, especially when they get with the idea of recycling.

So, we have had this system in use for a month or so and I'm here to tell you, it works.

I took video of my recycle bin being loaded into the new truck.
video

No, I didn't stand out there all morning waiting for the truck to come by so I could make a 10-second clip. The truth is, I forget it was recycle pick-up day and heard the truck coming down the street so I quickly went outside and pushed the recycle bin from the garage to the street. But first, I had to move my wife's truck out of the way because the bin is too large to fit between the two cars if parked close together.

Which brings up a few key points about his new system, which you simply have to adapt to. First, the cans are large. But the two of them do not take up much more space than my original garbage cans did. We have always kept our cans in the garage so for the most part, I think they would fit wherever people were keeping theirs before the change. Oh, and as long as you tie off your plastic bags before placing them in the garbage container, they won't stink the place up.

Some people were used to keeping their cans on the side of the house or in the back yard behind privacy fences and now, they feel that since the cans are too big to be carried, they simply place them in front of the garage doors. People, seriously, this is in poor form. I am certainly not the golden standard of good taste, but the first step to knowing that you are "Going Ghetto" is to drive through a neighborhood and see these garbage cans parked in front of people's garage doors.

I know of several people who are having to modify gates or add walkways to the side or back of their homes to accommodate these wheeled cans; I know it is a pain, but totally ignoring the fact that it is a violation of the deed restrictions to leave the cans out in front of your house, it just looks bad if you do.

If you are suggesting that the new cans are too large and awkward for elderly folks to move in and out, I would submit that first, my mother-in-law in her 70's can roll hers out with ease because of the wheeled design, and second, if they simply cannot, handle them due to other physical limitations, the city has a program to assist those residents with smaller sized containers. Contact 311 for info.

The bottom line on this is, I understand that the city did not consult with our deed restrictions before giving us these larger containers, but most of the people on my street have been able to accommodate the new cans and keep within the deed restrictions. So I'd love to hear the specifics of why other people can't.

The other thing we have observed is just how much stuff we are now recycling that we had simply tossed in the regular trash before. What we have noticed (and your household certainly may differ) is that in a one week, we generate about triple the amount of recyclable material as we do just regular trash. And I think that was one of the expected benefits the city had in mind when coming up with the program.

I don't have all the facts and figures, but it just makes common sense that when the city has to pay money to take the trash to the landfill, but can generate income by selling off the recycled stuff, the more we can do to increase the recycled stuff and reduce the trash, the better off we will all be. If I were in the Scouts, I might get a merit badge for coming to this conclusion.
The final point goes back to the video of the truck picking up the large can. Did you notice that the driver of the truck never got out and lifted the can? Just think of how much money the city is saving on medical costs associated with back injuries. In spite of the adjustments we as homeowners have to make to get used to this new system, I'd say it was a brilliant program and our city deserves a vote of praise for implementing it.

7 comments:

Maureen said...

HINT TAKEN!!! We're on our way to the Depot now to get some building materials. We've been talking about doing it since we bought the house and it's one of those things that keeps getting put off......

but we are not ghetto. :-[[

Dave said...

Oh, hey, I wasn't talking about your house...

Maureen said...

Haha! I see more parked in front of the garages than I do anything else. But seriously, we've been putting it off and you lit a fire......

So, thanks, I guess. At least it's a 3 day weekend you ruined, not just a 2 banger!! Have a good one!

The Bridegroom said...

You're right about the recyclables...Juice and I noticed in the first week how much more stuff we had to recycle. We hadn't really recycled before this, and in fact had just gotten our green recycle bin about 2 weeks before we got the new cans, but now that we're being "nudged" we're recycling quite a bit.

Albatross said...

Wow, great video! That mechanical arm is simply cool. I'm never home when the garbage and recycle trucks come by, so that's the first time I've seen one in action.

As for the whole program, I agree that this is something the city has done right. There is plenty of room in those cans, and the recycling is easy because the city will take almost anything. The cans are big, but it just takes a little adjusting. Overall, I think the city is better for it.

M2 said...

After living where recycling was mandatory (Belgium and Germany), we always wondered why it isn't done here. It greatly reduces the amount of trash you have.

Since we are outside of the city limits, we only have once-a-week pick-up anyhow with Tiger Sanitation; but at least there is almost no limit to what you can put out (they picked up the POS Best Buy TV that crapped out on us in less than two years, but they did not pick up the carpeting my neighbor left out last week). But we also have people who leave their cars where they are en eyesore. Our HOA requires cans to be out of sight, but as usual the rules are not enforced. They need to crack down on it.

Cheers! M2

Maureen said...

OK, our cans are properly screened and ready for inspection, sir!

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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