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.
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.