Urban Etiquette: Trashy People

by Borderstan.com November 8, 2011 at 8:00 am 1,445 11 Comments

"Borderstan""15th Street NW""Trash Can"

A big trash no-no: Public trash cans on the street are not for your household trash. In fact, it’s illegal. (Matty Rhoades)

From Mike Kohn. Have an urban etiquette topic to address? Send Mike an email at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

You know what stinks? Trash. Even in my own apartment, I found myself needing to quickly get a bag of trash out of my apartment since it had somehow managed to smell up the place overnight. One thing can make everything around reek of garbage — and nobody likes that.

Now, I’m not going to get on my soapbox and tell you why saving the planet should be at the top of your agenda. Yes, I support the environment and work by day for a company that emphasizes the importance of sustainability, and I love that. But I don’t hug trees and this column isn’t a desperate plea for you to take action.

Dear Newly Arrived Downtown Resident: Public trash cans on the street are NOT for your household trash. Not at all. It’s illegal. Sometimes the city trash collectors or inspectors will take your household trash, trace you, contact you and FINE you. If problems persist with a specific can, the city might remove the can.

Instead, let’s talk about how your trash is affecting my life. Literally.

  • Put the trash in the trash can. I swear, it could not be a simpler instruction. And yet, I see trash on the street and blowing in the wind.
  • Along the same lines, tie up your trash bags. This is really for anyone who leaves their trash in a container outside. Trash smells bad. Like I already mentioned, we all know it, so keep it locked up as best you can.
  • Sometimes, I will admit that it’s hard to put your casual trash in trash cans because they’re full. And with that in mind, don’t place your household trash in public bins. You have a trash can. Use it. For many of us in townhouses, this requires us to go to the dark and scary alley when it’s way easier to dump your stuff in the public bin outside your house. But doing that prevents everyone else from putting trash in the bin. And when people on the street are able to use the bins… well, that makes everyone happier, doesn’t it?
  • Even if it’s kind of a pain, recycle — even if it’s just a little bit. OK, I had to get an environmental plug in there somewhere, right? Maybe it’s too much of a pain to do everything, but if you recycle just that one plastic bottle or that one glass container, you’ll be doing some good. Good for you!

Let’s be honest. Overall, Borderstan is a pretty clean neighborhood. We don’t have a major trash problem. But as we keep growing, this is a good way to make sure it stays clean and doesn’t get, well, trashy. Ever noticed any problems? Have you seen delinquents with their garbage?

As always, if you have any crazy urban challenges, please send them my way at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @mike_kohn so we can right your etiquette wrong!

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