Here’s what happens when you leave a bunch of trash on the sidewalk, as these folks did a few days ago. First the pickers go through your stuff, and they don’t exactly care whether things get put back in a neat and tidy way. Then the dogs and other critters get into the bagged up garbage and spread it around. Then the debris starts blowing around the street, and before you know it you’ve got a disgusting eyesore that is getting worse by the minute.
You can compare this picture, taken after I got back from the office today, with the “before” picture I posted a few days ago. When Kish and I saw this scene we got out our own trash bags, bagged up the debris, cleared the sidewalk, picked up the scattered trash and garbage, and stored it in the dumpsters. Other thoughtless people may not behave in a neighborly way, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow their lead.
German Village is known for its picturesque brick-paved sidewalks and streets. But when people leaves overflowing dumpsters and piles of discarded items on the sidewalks, to the point where you can barely squeeze by, it tends to interfere with the charming vistas.
It’s a scene that we’ve seen more and more lately. Sometimes, as with the photo above, it seems to be people who are moving out, and apparently just don’t want to cart a lot of unwanted items to their next destination. Other times it appears to be people just getting rid of broken furniture or other junk, and not particularly caring how they do it. Maybe the people think that the trash pickers who periodically visit German Village will swing by and take away items that they think they can use. But whatever the cause or motivation, it’s always unsightly, and it gets even worse if the rains come.
It’s not neighborly behavior, it’s trashy behavior — and it shows a total lack of consideration for neighbors and other German Village residents. Would it really have been so hard for the people getting rid of their trunk and moccasins and clothing items to put the stuff in their car and take it to a Goodwill box or Goodwill store to be donated and reused, rather than left on the sidewalk?
In our German Village neighborhood, most residents tend to be very protective of our streets and sidewalks. We also recognize, however, that come trash day it’s not uncommon for scavengers to drive up and down the streets, looking for the possibility that one person’s trash could become another person’s treasure. A large discarded item often is plucked before the garbage guys swing by.
But what if large items are so ugly or smelly that even scavengers won’t touch them — and they’re not within the guidelines defining appropriate refuse to be collected on the standard pick-up days? What’s a resident who cares about appearances to do then?
After this unappealing, overstuffed floral print chair and mirror appeared on the sidewalk and then stayed there, like a pimple on the smooth brick skin of Third Street, one resident decided to go down the passive-aggressive note route. First one hand-lettered note — the one asking to “please make them not be here anymore” — appeared. Then, when the floral monstrosity remained for a day or two more, the second one popped up . . . just in case the offender needed to know the proper method for disposing of the overstuffed horror. And does the handwriting indicate it’s one note-leaver, or two? The use of lower case in the newer note makes me wonder.
When I take my walk this morning, I’ll be eager to see whether the unsightly chair and mirror are still there — and, if so, whether a new, perhaps more pointed, note has sprouted on the rear of the mirror. We’ve seen the passive-aggressive “please” and “thx,” and the even more ironic “XO” hugs and kisses. What’s next? A passive-aggressive smiley face?
Kasey is a unique dog. Many dogs like trash, of course. Kasey does, too. But Kasey especially craves a certain kind of trash — used Kleenex from the bathroom wastebasket.
If you leave the bathroom door open and the wastebasket on the floor within Kasey’s reach, it’s just a matter of time before you hear a bang and clatter and then see old Kasey shuffling by, munching on a mouthful of tissue and guarding it zealously when you try to get it away from her.
Disgusting, you say? Sure! But dogs do a lot of disgusting things, from appalling tongue swabs of their nether regions to up-close-and-personal sniffs of assorted animal droppings to hearty bites of flyblown roadkill. By comparison, chowing down on used Kleenex is a minor transgression in the canine health and sanitation area.
The mysterious question, however, is: why used Kleenex? As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot that we don’t know about Kasey’s history, given her Erie County Humane Society past. Did she once have to survive on Kleenex to fill her belly? Is eating used Kleenex the canine equivalent of nose-picking? Does the Kleenex remind her of something pleasant from her past? Are her senses of smell and taste so acute that she can identify the human who used the tissue?
Kasey will never tell. I’d ask her, but she’s working on a mouthful of Kleenex right now.
Every Thursday, the houses in our neighborhood put their trash out by the curb for pick-up. When I walk the dogs on a Thursday morning, I’m always amazed by the cumulative output, from just one neighborhood in just one suburb of just one American city.
My goal therefore is to make sure that our house sets out the smallest amount possible. I toss every bottle, aluminum can, milk jug, and other plastic item in their recycling bin. I break down even the most sturdily constructed cardboard box and throw every stray scrap of paper — newspapers, brochures, mail-order catalogs, and junk mail included — into the paper recycling container. I put food scraps into the garbage disposal and rake yard waste into the beds behind our shrubs. I know these efforts are small, but the multiplication effect means that little efforts can have large consequences.
In any case, I feel better knowing that our garbage footprint is as small as possible. Some years ago I had a case involving landfills that addressed how they are constructed and operated. I learned how they are lined, and capped, and how leachate — great name for the fluid that inevitably seeps out of crushed garbage, isn’t it? — is collected. Landfills are carefully regulated and engineered, but the fact remains that they are permanent pockets of garbage buried across the landscape that will forever limit how those locations can be used. I don’t want our little household to contribute unnecessarily to their proliferation.