Taking Out the Trash

Once a month, I take our recycling to the road. This is something far more annoying than most city-dwellers may suspect.

For one thing, the road is about 1/4 mile away. Over a month, we fill up at least three large plastic trash cans full of recycling. If I walked each of those there to be picked up, then walked them back to the house after, I’d have walked 3 miles.

So, I use our $75 pickup to get the trash to the road. The process is a long one, and it starts two days before the recycling is due to be picked up.

Monday, 5:30PM: Find an outdoor extension cord in the basement. Put on snow-suitable shoes. Go outside, plug the extension cord in at the elevator. Grab the battery charger, hook it up to the pickup. Unfurl and untangle the extension cord, plug it in.

Blog about it if desired.

Tuesday, 5:30PM: Go outside. Disconnect the battery charger, coil up the extension cord. Plug in the air compressor and get it going. Run the hose to the tire that keeps going flat and hope it reaches. Fill up the tire. Return the air compressor hose to the elevator, turn off the air compressor.

Go to pickup and actually get in. Remove the bungee cord from the brake pedal that is holding it up, preventing the brake lights from being on 100% of the time and draining the battery even faster.

Start pumping the accelerator. It’s not a fuel-injected engine, after all. Crank the engine. Stop cranking, pump some more, trying to avoid the hole in the floor under the accelerator. Eventually get it started, hopefully.

Roll down the windows to prevent the exhaust fumes from getting too strong.

Drive the stuff to the road. Unload the three cans, plus all the extra cardboard from Christmas that didn’t fit in them and is now soggy and snow-covered. Drive the pickup back to the yard. Park it. Replace the bungee cord on the brake pedal so it’ll start again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5:30PM: Dress warmly yet again. Go to the pickup, hoping the tire is still inflated and the battery is still charged. I’m going to be optimistic and assume they are. Hope that the pickup starts after only a few minutes of pumping. Go back to the road, only to find that the Kansas wind has scattered the trash cans and their lid all over the county. With luck, I’ll be able to find them on foot. Sometimes, I have had to get in the pickup and drive down the road to find all my lids. Stash all of this in the pickup, drive it back to the yard, park, replace the bungee cord, and close it up for another month.

I’m promising myself that when I upgrade to a better pickup, it’ll be one worth at least $200.

9 thoughts on “Taking Out the Trash

  1. So what’s wrong with a simple human-powered trailer on a string? Sleigh for snowy times, wheels for summer.

    I pack easy recycling (bottles, cans, etc) in a backpack to take to a recycling centre. More complex stuff (like electronics) goes into bike panniers, as access to the main recycling centre a couple of miles further away isn’t really feasible on foot.

  2. Tying the lids to the garbage cans with a few feet of twine will reduce the number of searches you have to make. If there’s no convenient handle to make it fast, a puncture or two with an awl will do.

    If you have any rights at the side of the road, a few 2x4s can become a corral for the cans.

  3. This is probably a silly question, unless you actually like gettin that ole chevy trampsin down the driveway.
    Do you have a fireplace or woodburing stove? If you do and you use it may I suggest compoting the waste materials.
    Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    1. Not entirely silly. I actually do burn things that I can which aren’t recyclable.

      The problem with burning is that burning paper and cardboard especially leave a lot of ash, and also require more precautions when it’s windy. It becomes a hassle to dispose of the ash all the time.

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