Living and Learning

The Joy of the Dump

"Taking Out the Trash" by Stavos licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Taking Out The Trash” by Stavos licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Oh, the joy of the dump. No, not that kind of dump. The municipal dump. The waste disposal site. Today I took some trash to the dump. This trash has a history that raises issues of honesty and integrity and ethics, but mostly it’s just trash.

Recently, we had some work done at the house. We had an old fence taken down and rebuilt and we had an old path that sloped in the wrong direction taken up and repaved. The contractors did a wonderful job and they took away all the debris they created.  The trouble is, a neighbour thought they could cash in on the trash removal bonanza.

In the middle of the night they left a pile of junk in our garage driveway.  Our driveway is in a back alley, so this nocturnal subterfuge was easily accomplished without notice. The mystery person left us with a pile of unused laminate floor planks, an old crib with mattress and bumper pads, a rusted industrial-sized muffin tin, an old realtor’s lawn sign, and some rotted fence lumber. Not surprisingly, our contractors ignored it all.

When we realized what had happened, we debated whether to hire a junk removal company or to deal with it ourselves. Some of the items were too big for either of our cars, so we decided to add some of our own junk to the pile and call someone who moves junk for a living.

After a couple of days we put out an old boom box and toaster oven, and rounded up some leftover concrete lumps from the pathway paving. A few days later, though, some of this stuff miraculously disappeared. The sides to the crib went first. Maybe someone wanted to use them as a barrier to restrain a dog or small child. The boom box went next, then the toaster oven.  We don’t even know if either of them work.

Subsequently, the weekly garbage truck came and took the crib mattress and bumpers, the sign from the realtor but not the metal post that held it up, and some smaller pieces of wood that I had put in a trash can, but they left everything else. By now we were down to a manageable pile.

So, today I took it all to the Eco Station. Edmonton is blessed with a wonderful garbage processing system that separates recyclables and provides a building for the free share of all sorts of things including furniture, electronics, and appliances. Everything in my car was designated as refuse and went in to a large dumpster. I enjoyed chucking that old wood and miscellany in there as I stood beside another woman who was throwing similarly useless stuff out of her life.  She mentioned how good it feels to get rid of junk, and I had to agree.

I explained that I was actually throwing out other people’s junk, but it still felt good. There is something uniquely liberating about freeing your back alley of rubbish. If the neighbourhood nocturnal trash dumpers knew how much better they would feel if they took it to the Eco Station, maybe they would do it themselves.

The larger issues, though, have to do with how much rubbish we create and how much it costs financially and environmentally to get rid of it all. Even people without large vehicles create trash, and they can’t get it to the dump without help. As far as the city is concerned, if it is in your property, it’s your problem–hence, the nocturnal alley-dumping.

There is probably a solution to all this, but until the city figures it out we have to create mini free-shares in our driveways until the pile gets small enough to fit in our cars.

Or, we put it in someone else’s driveway.

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