penelope and bumblebee

Good grammar costs nothing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tin Can Alley

I love walking the three blocks to the subway on Tuesday mornings. It is one of the greatest non-family related pleasures of my week (up there with so you think you can dance Wednesdays and casual Fridays). Is it the early morning birdsongs, you ask? No (I’m more of an evening bird kind of girl). Could it be the morning dew glistening on slowly waking garden blooms? Nice, but nuh-uh. How about the sleepy commuters, still friendly in their sunrise stupors? Nope.

It’s the recycling bins. Yes, I get a kick out of glancing at a household’s recycling bin and discerning bits of information from the receptacles and the contents therein.

Gross, I know, but it’s not like I get down in there and rummage through leaky milk cartons and stinky tuna tins; in fact, I don’t even slow my pace. I just look, and discern. Look, and discern. I’m not a garbage picker; I’m a detective. An urban anthropologist. An explorer, some might say (some might say a whackjob, but I’m not listening to them).

There is a lot to learn about a household by doing this.

I notice mainly 3 things – organization of the bins, number of bins, contents of bins. (Isn’t this fascinating? too bad; you tune in here and this is what you might get – do get – on occasion. I bet the comment count on this one will be through the roof!)

I note the people that separate their paper from their plastic. You don’t have to do that in Toronto anymore, but some can’t break the habit. These people tend to have tidy bins in general – everything is flattened, bundled, stacked and laying neatly within the confines of the bin. These bins also tend to have less variety as far as contents go – one bin is filled mainly with water bottles, the other, a week’s worth of the Toronto Star. I like these conscientious, neat people, even though they would probably be disgusted by me.

Most houses have the requisite 2 bins, standard order, compliments of the city. One gray, one blue, both full. But some people have an extra, tall blue bin. The people with the extra bin usually stack to over-flow, with nothing flattened or separated. Sometimes tissue boxes or frozen pizza packaging spills onto the sidewalk. These people, I think, have kids. One house in my hood puts out not 2, not 3, but 6 bins each week. They are all gray, and they are stacked on top of each other, half-full. I think this is just silly. I think the people in the house should probably be commended for recycling, because they usually tend towards the excess, or at least towards not forcing the full life span onto their products before they deem it garbage.

Then there is what I see in the bins. It’s so interesting, I swear. Like, the people that have millions of single-serve water bottles in their bins – why not just get the big jugs and a glass? The first ‘R’ is REDUCE, people! I like the big, flattened boxes the best – the treats and gifts; the big purchases. A few thoughts from this morning:

· Ooh, #213 got an outdoor tin-man heater!

· That whole box is filled with bits of paper, #119 – smarten up and get a ‘no fliers please’ sign.

· #99 – christ, that’s a lot of plastic garden statues… tylenol, batteries, soda crackers, whiskey, more whiskey… when do I get to be an eccentric old alkie?

· Aww, #75 got the same car seat as us – new baby or growing baby, I wonder?

· Ugh, #43 eats total shit. What are lunchables, anyway? There’s no food in their food! This is what they feed their kids? Gross.

I look for the contents that most resembles our own bins – organic milk, tampons, discarded playstation game manuals and healthy times teething cookies, anyone?
In the empty shell of packaging, the mysteries of humanity. I’m serious here, folks.

I also look into open windows – from the sidewalk, you perv, as I stroll by with my hubby and bumblebee. I’m not a bush-lurker. But I guess voyeur would be apt. Dusk is the best time for this, as most people have reacted to the fading daylight by opening lights, but have not yet drawn the drapes. I like to see what people have done to their space – what colour the walls are; if they’ve torn down all the walls; how people decorate. I love it. I can’t help it. I always, always look. Never mind.

Anyway, to make up for such a loser post, here is a cute picture:


  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger metro mama said…

    I'll have to try this. I must admit, I already look in windows.

    We have more boxes than we'd like (including one tall) that are completely disorganized. They're full of: newspapers, magazines, wine bottles, PC frozen product cardboard and boxes from Home Depot crap.

    Great pic of bumblebee.

  • At 3:29 PM, Blogger SpeakEasy said…

    Too funny!!!

    We are 5 blocks from the subway - usedto be 50 feet from the Yonge subway, but still close enough without worrying about the traffic.

    I walk to and from the subway every day for work, and I always look into the recycling bins, at construction and into windows while listening to my iPod. If they can see my, why can't I see them???

    I'm usually left empty handed except for the one time I caught a glimpse of a guy in all his glory. Yuck. For the next week I kept my eyes on the sidewalk.

    Have you found anything interesting in windows??

  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger lisalou said…

    I do it too! All of it! I don't even try to hide it and sometimes I do slow down my pace or stop even. Gasp!
    I live in a small town and we live right in town so I walk everywhere! Sometimes we go out on walks just to do our inspecting. Karen, you would love the recycling here. People put their stuff in really large clear blueish bags. Very easy to peer into.

    I love to recycle. Crazy though is that it is not for environmental reasons or neatness reasons. It's just a freak thing that I like to do. I try to see how much I can actually recycle vs. put in the garbage can. It's like a game. Collect the crap, rinse it and put it in the sack.

    Our bag contains,because I know you can't stroll by and examine: rinsed Bean Around the World coffee cups, toilet paper rolls, various cereal boxes, flyers (sorry, love to look at shiny pictures), envelopes, yogurt containers, and usually various odd little plastic objects that I find and like to send to a better place.

    Love you

  • At 11:04 PM, Blogger Jezer said…

    New here, but already loving the site. I'm a window-looker, and a trash/recycling speculator, too.

  • At 1:56 PM, Anonymous the hubby said…

    why do i see a seinfeldian situation evolving here? Another urban neurosis for the socially anal? You sidewalk anthroplogists are going to be responsible for creating refuse sensitive people "padding" their recycling with fashionable waste to create lifestyle impressions for the Jones's. maybe concealing Teen People under a prominently displayed yet supposed just randomly discarded Bust Magazine ? Maxwell's signature blue tin can of instant coffee pushed to the bottom to be mostly obscured by the deep purple and gold of korean ginseng tea boxes?
    for shame on you people. for shame.
    now if you don't mind i have to go censor my yard waste.

  • At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love your blog.

    I do the same also.What l like doing is going into the richer area's of town and looking in their windows.

    The shame!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape