Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Special Garbage Pick-up

My city contracts out for garbage pick-up, and one of the deals of our contract is 3 "clean-up" days a year--put out your old furniture, car tires, cut tree limbs, area rugs, etc., and off they go! The city ordinance says you can put stuff out up to 2 days before your pick-up day.

The city ordinance also says that it is illegal to pick through what people have placed out on the street for pick-up. Yet, starting yesterday (pick-up day in my area is tomorrow), pickup trucks with trailers trawl the streets and pick up anything that looks like it might have some value.

And it bothers the snot out of me.

You might think, why care, Darren? You don't want the stuff, they do, you're throwing it out, why do you care if they take it? And that's a good question. And tonight I tried hard to figure out why I care. And this is what I came up with:

They're violating the law.

We can discuss all day long whether the law should exist or not, and at the end of that discussion we might actually agree. But none of that discussion changes the fact that the law currently is the law and should be obeyed. They're flouting the law, with impunity, and laws that aren't enforced breed contempt for all other laws.

And that's what bothers me, as the pickups drive up and down my street, looking for treasure in the trash.


Scott McCall said...

Second to last paragraph: "We car..."

I'm sure you mean "We can..."

Darren said...

As long as the law exists, though, it should be obeyed. Work to have it changed if you don't like it.

Ellen K said...

True, it is the law. But it is also true that a vast number of people throw out perfectly good items rather than donating them to charities that could use them. Just last week a person put out on the curb a perfectly good couch. I walked by. It was older, it was plaid, but it was clean and in good repair. Now wouldn't it make more sense to donate it to say, a charity that places victims of domestic violence in apartments more than going to a landfill? Of course, it would be "nice" if the owners of said couch had bothered to lift a finger to see if anyone wanted it. Hey, Craiglist has curb pickups for free things all the time. How hard could it be to find a more efficient way to get rid of unwanted items. I am similar issues with people who throw out clothes. Our neighbor used to buy new sheets, blankets and pillows every three months and throw out the old ones. I can't help but think that many shelters and charities would have benefited from them.

Steve USMA '85 said...

"I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."
Inaugural address (March 4, 1869)

Ulysses Simpson Grant
U.S. general and president

I can understand the rationale for the law. It was probably enacted to prevent scavengers from picking through your trash and leaving a mess. Many folks doing this work don't care it they scatter refuse all over your yard looking for the golden nugget. On the other hand, what Ellen K says is quite true. Charities could use a lot of what is thrown away. Also, the scavengers make a decent living picking up your items. Your old fridge doesn't work so you dump it. Scavenger picks it up and fixes it with a $40 part and some elbow grease. He sells it for $100. Cottage industry helping the economy.

Personally, I have no problem with someone taking my tossed items. Better someone reuse them then filling a landfill somewhere. Just don't make a mess taking it away.

Darren said...

You are correct on all counts.

W.R. Chandler said...

I was under the impression that once something is put out on the curb, it is fair game for anyone.