Sunday, January 11, 2009

Talking trash ...

I was sitting here wondering, "What can I bore people with today on my blog?" as I looked through some old pictures. I know, the dump! I know you're excited. You're probably thinking, "Oh goodie, Rena's going to talk about trash, be still my beating heart." This picture is the residential trash area. There's a real dump in the town of Kalispell. When we first moved here, we found out there was no trash service at our house. This threw us for a loop for and we weren't sure if we'd like that. We always had trash service in California. We had a trash bin, recycle bin and a green bin for things like brush or grass clippings. Every Monday we had to put the bins out. It's different here. Instead, we keep our trash in our garage and when our bins are full, we take them to this site in the picture. I thought it would be a pain, but it hasn't been. In fact, it's worked out better. For one, there are several of these dumpsites, so we can drop off the trash regardless of which way we're traveling. Two, it's free and there's no limit of trash you can get rid of. That was especially nice when we first moved here and had all those boxes and things. It's great at Christmas and birthdays when we have more garbage than normal. So, it's been kind of nice and not an inconvenience at all. There are bins for trash, others for cardboard and a place for large items to be removed. Some people here have regular trash service, so it just depends on where you live. After not being able to get up our own road last night because of the ice, I understand why they do it this way.

One thing that's sad is how some people go digging around the bins. We've had people dig through our trash even before we've driven away. Some people are just looking for junk, maybe to sell or fix up, but others are really so poor that this is how they survive. I'll never forget a story Rick told me about seeing a family digging through the trash. As the parents poked through the garbage, their 2 young girls were inside the trash bins digging around. One of them stood up straight and held a grubby little tee shirt over her chest to see if it would fit her. Rick said it was heartbreaking. We give stuff to the local Salvation Army quite a bit, but sometimes I'll leave things at the dumpsite instead. I'll just put them next to the bins. I've done that with clothes, shoes, old toys, etc. It's not like everyone here is dirt poor. That's certainly not the case, especially in the town I live in, which is on a huge lake surrounded by million dollar homes. But there are some people struggling, and if I can help in that simple way, I will. I recently left 2 perfectly good booster seats at the dumpsite. For one, thrift stores can't accept them and we don't have a place locally that recycles them. Ours were in perfect condition, so rather than toss them in the bins, I left them next to them. Hopefully, someone was able to use them, especially someone who might have been tempted not to put their child in one after they grew out of their baby seat. The other day I saw a nice looking couple digging through the trash. In just the few minutes I was there, the lady had pulled out a box of Christmas ornaments, a beautiful wreath and a few other holiday things. One person's trash is another person's treasure! I have never dug through the trash myself, but I have found books in boxes next to the bin. And yeah, I did pick a few of those up. I hate to see books thrown away.

I've been doing research on dumps and garbage men for my book, A New Job for Dilly. I'm trying to come up with some fun projects that kids can do after reading the story. There's some interesting stuff out there. Did you know garbage men can make $30,000 to $80,000 per year depending on where they work? Did you know the very first garbage men of England were called "rakers" because once a week they'd go through the streets and rake up the trash? I guess it's interesting to me because my book has a connection to it. But anyway, having to take our trash to the dumpsite isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I've seen some bizarre stuff there -- from people digging through the trash, to the legs of deer sticking out of bins, to watching bald eagles fly overhead. You never know what to expect.


  1. Wow, that is crazy. It is sad to see people digging through trash for things that we so take for granted that they DON'T have. Very humbling. Wouldn't it be nice to have the money to take that family to Target or Walmart or where ever and buy them new clothes? Sad. I had no idea a sanitation worker could make that much money. I highly doubt they make anywhere close to that here though. Cheyenne is so cheap. LOL


  2. We have these kinds of trash areas in our area also...Once when Hubs and I were dumping our trash off, we heard a noise in one of the other dumpsters, we thought it was dumpster divers, but before we looked away, a bear stood up! We could have thrown our trash in that dumpster as easy as we did the dumpster down from it...I don't want to think about how a bear would react to having a trash bag tossed on it's head...grin...

  3. Brenda: Scary...

    Rena: So sad, that little girl. Sometimes we forget how privileged we are.

    I've only experienced SERIOUS recycling in Denmark. They don't package stuff the same as us. You even have to bring your own bag to the grocery store - or pay for a bag. People are more aware of trash. And they have one garbage pail for an entire house - the size of a bathroom garbage here.

  4. We're very lucky that we have a recycling center in our town and are able to recycle just about everything. We bury in our garden or feed the deer any veggie or fruit left-overs and we have a burn barrel to burn any paper we don't want to recycle. The two of us produce about one bag of garbage a week. That's garbage we can't recycle. When we get 4 or 5 bags we go to our local dump (a land fill) and for something like $8 dump our bags. Once when we were at the dump we saw old wooden trunk someone had tossed. We went through it. I found a handmade silver and turquoise thunderbird on a heavy hand-made silver chain.

    Nice header picture Rena. Glad you figured out how to do it!

  5. Nancy -- Yes, it is sad. It's tough on us too since we took a big decrease in income to move here. I doubt garbage men make much money in our area either.

    Brenda -- I would have loved to seen that bear. I always try to have my camera with me because of things like that. You never know what might "pop up" at you.

    Kim -- I remember that from my trips to England where they didn't offer bags for your groceries. I admit that I still get plastic bags here, but I reuse them and find new things to do with them. The last thing I've done was use them to wrap up all my Christmas decorations with them. That worked better than newspaper and the bags will last a long time.

    Bish -- That's great you have a lot of ways to recycle there. I know there are places here too. Even the grocery stores recycle their bags and such. One thing I wasn't used to was how people burn their brush here in "slash piles". Nearly every home has one. You're not supposed to put any kind of natural material in the trash bins and people are expected to burn them. They have specific days and time periods for that too. It's kind of fun hanging out at the slash pile by a big bonfire. At the same time, it's frightening to see just how quickly that brush can go up in flames. We try to burn the rotten wood and such, since a lot of the other stuff can be cut and used in our woodstove.

  6. I wonder if having central dump sites could also be due to the surrounding wildlife, mainly bears and raccoons?

    That is sad about the little girl with the shirt.


  7. Could be Gale. Then again, it doesn't help matters when people leave their garbage in the back of their trucks and/or drive around with it in there for days. No wonder there are problems. But most of the people within city limits have regular trash service, and even then, there's a lot of wildlife in those areas too. At least there are up here.

  8. Oh I just love your header. Amazing! My husband's family grew up near where you live, by the way.

    But as far as trash, Korea is really big into recycling. Even my preschoolers (3 year olds) clean out their milk containers and divide up the food, plastic, paper, and metal.

    It's really a great thing, but believe me, not easy. Nearly everything we have is recycled. The food bin is the worst because it smells so bad and you have to clean it out. Gross!

  9. That story about the family searching through the trash broke my heart!

    What a wonderful project you're working on!



  10. That actually does sound convenient. It's difficult here to get rid of oversized items.

  11. I've left items out for people to take by the trash or in areas where I know there's a need. We donate too, but times are really tough now.

    I think it would be nice to have the trash site option, especially for large items. Sometimes it's nice not to have to deal with it though.

    Good luck with the research for your book.

  12. First I have to say that I like the idea of the trash areas and that you are responsible for taking your own stuff to the dump. We have weekly pick up here for recyclebles and bi-weekly for garbage. But there is a limit of how many bags you can put out and the weight etc which is a pain.

    It is so sad to hear about people going through the garbage - not the people that want to but the people that have to. It makes you realize how truly lucky and blessed you are and how easy it could be to be that person looking in the garbage.

    Good luck with the research Rena.

  13. And now I can't even sign my name!
    I am the anonymous writer above Rena!