Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Let Me Tell You of a Story of a Bin Named Green

Now that the election is over, you've earned a rest. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little story.

The green bin arrived all nice and shiny. She looked at its gleaming surfaces and spotless latch, and decided to take it for a test run before she used it for real. Trundling it to her solid concrete patio, she prepared to open it. The latch didn't budge. She grabbed it as best she could with her crooked fingers and pulled. Nothing. She looked at it from the side, she looked at it from the top, she looked at from raccoon view. Brute force only, she thought, and she needed more gripping power. She rummaged around in her basement and found some sturdy gloves with grip, put one on, went outside, grabbed the latch firmly, and using her shoulders and back as well as her hand, heaved at the latch. It flew open; she landed against her house's wall. Well! She thought. She looked inside, took out the little green bin and the instructions, and went into the house to read them over a cup of tea. She needed the break.

Feeling caffeine-refreshed, she went back out to close the thing. Nothing doing. The latch stopped at clicking shut. Well, this is just ridiculous, she thought. She grabbed a loose brick from her house wall, stood on it, and leaned on the lid until the latch just had to click shut. Satisfied, she went back inside.

Being a law-abiding citizen all her life, it didn't occur to her to just chuck the bin in the shed and ignore the silly thing. Instead, come garbage eve, she took her small bag of potato peelings, put them in the bin, which she had earlier in the day pried open, and standing on the brick, used her full weight to close it. At least, it wasn't too difficult trundling it out to the curb, and it only took 5 minutes to snap shut.

She went back inside and looked out her front window with satisfaction at a job well done and her small part at reducing Toronto's garbage. A raccoon was waddling towards her green bin. She smiled; this should be fun to watch, she thought. He stood up, sniffed at the latch, dropped back down, and swatted the bin over. His dextrous fingers neatly opened the latch in 30 seconds, and he pulled out the bag, ripped a hole in it, and hauled out the potato peelings. He took what he wanted, and left the rest strewn across the sidewalk, oblivious to the outraged owner on the other side of the glass.

OK, I made that up. But is it fiction?

Toronto's garbage madness has become intolerable. Every garbage day, the narrow sidewalks are taken over by the bins: blue bins, grey bins, green bins, rubbermaid bins, metal bins. Pedestrians are relegated to the edges, where we get to walk up and down over the curb cuts instead of on a level plane. Once the garbage trucks have come through, the bins are no longer neatly lined up on the inside edge of the sidewalk; now they're strewn hither and yon over sidewalks, front yards, and sometimes the road. At this point, it's just easier to walk on the road and hope you don't get beaned by an idiot driver or cyclist.

Inside, garbage containers have multiplied like rabbits. Putting out the garbage has become a tour de force of sorting all through the week in the kitchen in the bathroom in any room you read the paper, eat an apple, and blow your nose (separate disposal containers required there), then checking your calendar on garbage eve to see what's up for the next day, and hauling out the right bins, hoping all is in order because if that cardboard roll isn't folded up just so or the wrong container is visible in the bin, forget about having your stuff picked up.

Other Canadian cities have a higher diversion rate than Toronto's, yet their citizens don't have to go through this idiotic rigamarole. I hear that Edmontonians have one bin for paper and everything else goes in garbage bags. I long for those simpler days.

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