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Too Green For Me

I may have to quit my job because of garbage.

It all started when we returned from vacationing on the coast. Great weather, beautiful views, deer frolicking under windows, complete relaxation. The kind of place where you feel the stress evaporating from your body.

It’s also nice to be home again. Your own bed, your own dishes, your own BRAND NEW Garbage bin! But wait….. it wasn’t just any ordinary bin. This was an “Organics Cart,” not to be treated like any old garbage can. This one came with instructions. Lots of them. Some reverence, please.

As if this new (unrequested) addition wasn’t cause enough for alarm, this (uninvited) system had infiltrated our kitchen as well.  On the counter sat what I (foolishly) thought was the house sitter’s forgotten lunch pail, or tool/tackle box? Closer inspection revealed that this was a “Food Scrap Pail” and it too came with its own set of instructions in the form of an illustrated brochure; one with lists upon lists headed by capitalized green YES’s and obviously very bad NO’s and NOT OK’s in the universally dangerous color red. I needed to sit down.

I was being told that I could no longer put garden trimmings in the gutter, except for once a month, the week of the first Monday and every week “during the leaf-drop season” (this would involve marking a calendar because there was no WAY I’d remember it on my own.) Apparently leaves in Davis had been informed not to begin falling until the “third Monday in October” and to stop “mid-December.” I let out a not so ladylike guffaw and a choice word that probably belonged on the red “NOT OK” list in the brochure. If you have a garden, which the geniuses who came up with this doozy clearly do not, you know that leaves, lots of them, are a daily chore year round, at least ours are, so they must be some kind of rebel breed that decided to ignore the memo which ours clearly have. I can see a handful of leafy miscreants swirling into our pool as I sit here typing.

Even if I could remember when to put the trimmings in the gutter, ( what is the punishment for placing them there more than 5 days before a scheduled pick-up? Consequences have to be dire since this too is in ominous red), the “Pile Rules” warn that I’m not allowed to put those delinquent leaves or grass in this pile, unless of course my organics cart is full….. but wait, there’s more. Piles cannot be “larger than 5 feet in any direction,” must be “18″ from the curb or gutter,” and we are not allowed to park “within 3 feet of a yard material pile.” (Aren’t leaves and grass “yard material”?)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but all these numbers mean more calculating and measuring than is possibly good for me, and I’ll have to invest in a serious tape measure which I intend to charge to the city of Davis.

At this point my family had spent an hour heatedly discussing these alarming changes no one had consulted us about, and all that stress I had left at the beach was wrapping itself rather tightly around my midsection. I had to take a break and lie down, conjuring up the scraps of food I so nonchalantly tossed from the vacation house balcony each evening to the grateful raccoon below and the turkey vultures circling above. Yes. I threw garbage OUT THE WINDOW.

When I regained some semblance of composure I returned to the brochure only to discover the page where I could check the “Yard Material Pile Pick-Up Map” instructing us about scheduled “pile collection days.” Now I know that I just turned a rather impressive number this past birthday, but my eyesight didn’t just give out altogether overnight. There were sections of five lovely colors on the page yet no one, not even our 19 year olds, could make out what the tiny writing actually said, and I just knew that the orange “NO YARD MATERIAL PILES” section was our neighborhood, but no one could find the magnifying glass to prove it so that too will be charged to the city of Davis when and if I decide to invest in one.

When and if because frankly, I don’t care. Not  to the degree that I’m being forced to, that is. I know, blasphemy in this oh so conscientious city of ours, but I don’t appreciate being told how green to be and what constitutes garbage or not. Davis can be quaint and quirky but this is downright over the top absurd. I recycle, always have. But I’m not lining, scrubbing, sprinkling or collecting GARBAGE in a pail other than the garbage CAN, the one under the kitchen sink. Separating tea bags, tissues, pizza boxes (greasy or not) is a full time job, and I’ve already got one.

By the way: There is an “opt-out” form, an option I happened to stumble upon when I saw the word “access” in that fancy brochure, implying that I didn’t have to do this if I didn’t want to. (A neighbor tried to opt out by simply moving the bin out of sight. They brought her another one).

“All residents and businesses in Davis now have access to food scrap recycling service.” That meant I didn’t have to participate! And it should have been left up to me whether I wanted a bin brought to my house! But wait – once I called the city and asked for this form, I discovered that I had to prove how I was going to “divert organic materials from the landfills” before they’d remove the extra bin I never asked for in the first place.

My options?

I could compost at home  – no thanks. I don’t need more wildlife than I’ve already got coming to dine.

I could “Utilize backyard chickens” – don’t even get me started on what I’d like to do to the genius who came up with the brilliant idea of allowing fowl within city limits. You want to play farmer? Move to the country.

I could get a “signed letter from a farmer who is taking” my “organic wastes for composting, etc.”  – I don’t know what the “etc.” may be that that farmer might be doing with my garbage but I don’t intend to find out.

In other words, I’m stuck with the bin. Can’t wait to see what Davis comes up with next.




6 Responses to Too Green For Me

  1. Mary Hickman August 28, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    The bins are actually quite large enough for your weekly leaves. Trust me. I run a gardening service. I cram tarp loads of material into them. The reason for diverting organics is a great one. Things that use to be placed in the landfill are now composted into useful material for gardening. The land fill has a limit, we just can not keep throwing out everything for someone else to take care of. The city voters voted to this new system a while back, it didn’t just happen. Going green for the planet is the only way to ensure there is a place called home for the future generations. I find your piece here a wee bit over the top complaining about something that is very very good for the planet and easy to shift to the new system. I’ll quiz you as I have been doing to anyone who comes over, ask the teens.

    • Karen Levy
      Karen Levy August 28, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

      I’ve got no issue with filling the bin with leaves, Ms. Hickman. What I do take issue with is being told what to do with my garbage – I shouldn’t have to compost if I choose not to. Telling me what I can and cannot put in my waste bin (refuse, “items rejected as worthless”) is however, as you put it, “over the top,” and not just a “wee bit.” If I were to place half the items they suggest I place in that bin, and leave it to sit in the heat for a day (forget a week), the stench would be unbearable. Again, I don’t appreciate being told how green to be. You are however, welcome to come collect my garbage if you so desire, yet spare me the lectures.

  2. Carolyn Waggoner August 28, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    My sentiments, exactly, Karen. Just curious how much these bins will contribute to landfill in their time. And though I am quite fond of my chickens, I’ve never seen them do much in the way of helping with pizza boxes.

  3. Karen Levy
    Karen Levy August 28, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

    Hi Carolyn,

    Those would be mighty impressive chickens if they could devour pizza boxes, yet I still don’t want to be disturbed by their shrill and constant noise as I go about my day.

  4. Mike Brown August 29, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    I’m new to Davis and those trash cans, orderly lined along our streets for pick up full of stuff each week is impressive! Not to mention the massive piles of trees, grass and leaves everywhere on the roads.

    Step #1 – stop overcomsuminhg (food, Amazon, grass fertilizer, recyclables, whatever the thing may be..)

    Step #2 – you can now put your cans out once every two or three weeks

    Caveats: the above doesn’t apply to families with babies and of course this is America, we can consume to our heart’s delight if we want to!

  5. Mrs. J. Moore August 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    We, the dwellers of surrounding Davis communities with a Davis address and paying the school district taxes , library taxes etc. are refused to be “awarded ” the “life saving, planet saving…” containers.
    We came empty handed calling the city objecting to this discrimination.
    Actually, We was referred to call Yolo County to get some answers, which we did, but found only a vacation message . No one called back.
    We remember the same situation some years ago trying to get the recycle container .
    We did win this one some time later. The recycle container is so small, you can’t dispose much on the paper side. Thank God Davis Enterprise reduced the volume of their so call paper.
    Now, lets not forget, we, the” border people” are paying for the privilege of removing our garbage and the recycle material. We should be able to have the green one also.
    Right now we must drive it out of our property to the land field or whatever the gardener chooses to do with it, and some of us have a burn pile. Is this really better?
    We were never permitted to leave the garden green matter next to the road . We never experienced any cleaning devise cleaning our back roads, or county roads and the entire area next to the road belonging to Davis / Yolo County is full of weeds and garbage from people who use the road , wind and the garbage trucks loosing their load. It is mostly up to us to call and complain. If not, it will not be done.
    So once and for all, please make up your mind City of Davis, are we your citizens or not. If we are not, please reduce our taxes.