Taking out the trash is a complicated, time-consuming and expensive business. I spend hours scraping, rinsing, sorting, jamming and pulling rubbish that if it wasn’t for me paying for the pleasure, I think it would qualify as a part-time job. Living in rural Ireland makes simple things a pain in the arse. Dealing with rubbish being one of my main complaints during the winter (windy) months.
Recycling, composting, rubbish – yuck, yuck, yuck. Gone are the days of horsing black trash bags into a bin or even straight onto the sidewalk on trash night in Boston. Every rubbish item has a different home and none of them are as convenient as a black trash bag thrown out the back door.
We now have three wheelie bins (big plastic trash cans) that all have to be pulled down our small road for patchy collection by the rubbish company every two weeks. It’s probably a 250 meter walk down a bumpy pot-holed road wide enough for one car. This in itself isn’t too bad until you add in a fifty pounds of dirty nappies in one bin which makes it impossible for me to pull both together. Let alone our new third ‘food waste’ bin. Add hurricane winds and sleeting rain plus either a stroller or one or two dawdling toddlers that have ‘tired legs’ and want to be carried. (I have considered stuffing the smallest in the bin at times but thankfully for her there’s never room).
Once the bins are deposited, they are supposedly emptied early Monday morning and then someone has to go back during the week and drag them back home so we can start emptying our kitchen bin, recycling collection and now counter-top food collector thing again. This never happens on Monday, rarely on Tuesday and sometimes by Wednesday. At least four times last winter the bin truck never arrived. The high tides and storms washed our road away on a Monday. Rocks were covering the road from the beach another Monday. The local Council was ‘fixing’ the road another Monday. So the bin truck comes back later in the day or perhaps the next week and empties the trash, right? No. They just never come. You call, complain, whine, plead. They don’t come so now you have the fun of getting all the full bins back to the house and having no where to dispose of your rubbish and recycling for another two weeks.
We then have to hoard bags of stinking rubbish in the shed. We need to empty the recyclables into another bag every few days. Then on the next rubbish day the rotting bins have to be maneuvered back down the road along with bags of leaking trash which are piled next to the bins waiting for a dog to rip them open and spew your dirty tissues and worse all over the road.
Between rubbish days the rubbish struggle continues. We don’t have a garbage disposal in the sink (think it has something do with with the septic tanks but Irish people have a strong distrust of them) which means all the plates and leftovers are scraped into the trash can. Except now we have a brown food waste bin for our counter that then needs to be emptied into a larger brown bin outside. Easier said than done with clinging moldy food in the bottom. The large bin fills up after one week so then we are hoarding vegetable and fruit waste for our own compost bin (that serves no purpose on the other end of this endless compost process) which is outside through the wet grass and swarms with flies even in winter. The last place I want to go after cleaning up the kitchen from dinner.
The recycling is cleaner and lighter. Lighter means when the lid blows open the top layer blows out and flies around the yard so when I am trying to load the kids into the car, I have to then run around chasing skittering cans, cereal boxes and empty toilet paper rolls. After stuffing them back in the bin eventually will blow over all together in a big gust of wind and I’ll be greeted by this sight when I pull back in the driveway. If this happens enough times, I’ll eventually drag the bin to the shed where at least it won’t blow over but then anytime I want to clear out the recycling I have to run about 20 yards holding an overflowing pile of recyclables. At least one milk carton will blow away.
We pay over €200 a year for the pleasure of this great service but the alternatives are no better. At least when I am dragging a full bin down the road against the wind and choking on my neighbors toxic smoke from the trash he burns in a specially built lean-to, I have the moral high ground. The moral high ground is the only thing keeping me from ‘shock’ stuffing all my recycling (glass included) and food into one bag and throwing it off a cliff.