From the Publisher's Desk: It’s time to take out the trash

By Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate September 07, 2011 03:13 pm

Every Wednesday morning Rick gets up early, opens the garage door and rolls out the trash and recycling cans. Both are always positioned right by the door and ready to go because Rick spends every Tuesday night prepping for garbage pick-up day.

Rick has been a master garbage disposer since I met him a dozen years ago. He crushes, flattens, squeezes, stuffs, organizes and separates with passion and purpose. At first I thought his garbage-related behavior was compulsive, but then I realized that his method made a lot of sense.

He has taught me to take the extra few seconds to flatten the cardboard paper towel core to make room for more trash or to take my empty plastic shampoo bottle to the recycling bin rather than the waste basket.  I’ve improved considerably, but Rick still doesn’t trust me with the night-before preparation for trash pick-up for fear that I will mess it up, I guess.

There was a bit of a learning curve when we changed over to the new cans a couple of months ago, but it didn’t take Rick long to adjust. For him it was just a matter of testing until he found the appropriate size can for our household’s garbage and then changing from bin box to the big blue can for all our recyclables.

When I pull out of the driveway on Wednesday to go to work, our two cans stand like soldiers next to our mailbox.  But driving away I can’t help but notice that only about half the homes on our street have cans in front. On my way to the office I observe that other streets in my neighborhood look the same—some homes have cans and others don’t.

At least two houses on my block that don’t display trash cans are rental homes.  I guess what they do with their garbage is their own business, but I can’t help but wonder where their trash is.

According to Dave Mason, the code enforcement officer for Del Norte County, all landlords in the city and county (excluding Bureau of Indian Affairs land) are required to provide garbage removal service for their rentals. The landlord can remove the garbage, can have an employee remove it or can contract with Recology Del Norte. This code was adopted by the Solid Waste Management Authority in 2008.

If that’s the case—if the landlord pays for the service—then why wouldn’t the folks who rent put out their trash for free-to-them pick-up? As for homeowners who don’t have garbage pick-up, I have to assume they are taking their trash to the landfill themselves.

I wrote a column about my discovery of a rat chomping away at seeds on one of my bird feeders a couple of months ago. This “rat infestation” as I called it, led me to abandon the hungry birds in my back yard and stop putting out food that might attract rodents.

Where is the trash that isn’t in the curbside cans waiting to be picked up every week? In a pickup on the way to the landfill? In sheds, garages or carports? Piled in back or side yards?

I’m not jumping to conclusions about where the rat came from—or all the raccoons, for that matter. I am simply curious.

  Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate’s publisher, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.