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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


New neighbours, old garbage

Remember when you were a little kid, and a new family would move onto your street? You’d stand there watching the moving truck being unloaded, looking for clues about the children, how old they were, and what sex, hoping they’d have one just like you, someone with the potential to be your new best friend.

The house next door to me has a lot of turnover. Most of the tenants have been large groups of hardcore party animals. There was also the 23-year-old couple with five six children.

A week after GC read the last neighbours the riot act, they moved out. It was just a coincidence.

The house was vacant for a couple of months, and we liked it that way. When the moving truck pulled up, we weren’t excited. We weren’t looking for new best friends.  We just hoped the new people would be quiet.

It’s a group of young, newly arrived Israelis.  Their gatherings involve more conversation than music. They appear to drink socially, not competitively. They’re practically perfect, as neighbours go.

Except for one thing: They can’t seem to master the complexities of Ottawa’s garbage system.

First there was a growing pile of garbage out back, in our shared parking lot.  Animals were ransacking it. Garbage day came and went, and the chaotic pile remained. The next day, Eli knocked on our  door. He asked why the garbage collectors hadn’t taken his garbage. We explained that he needed to move the garbage to the front curb for pickup.

“Aha!” said Eli. We then discussed the various recycling bins and what went in them, and the pick-up schedules and so on. Admittedly, it was a lot of information, and we weren’t surprised he didn’t remember it all.

The following garbage day, Eli’s green bin was passed over. GC went and took a look inside it.

It seems Eli was using the green bin as a regular garbage pail, instead of for organic waste. But the garbage collectors had left a flyer explaining the green bin, and we were hopeful next garbage day would be better.

The other day GC went to throw our organic waste into our green bin, which we keep on the front porch. It was full of plastic bags of garbage! Upon further inspection, we determined it was Eli’s garbage, since it included the flyer.

We were mystified. Why would Eli take his garbage out of his green bin, walk over to our place, climb our front steps, and put it in our green bin? He’s a nice young man, so we assume there was no ill intent, but we can’t think of any plausible explanation.

Today is garbage day. Eli did not put any garbage out. A corner of his back yard has become his designated garbage area. His green bin, black bin and blue bin are all out there, filled with plastic bags of regular garbage.

“He’s just confused, that’s all,” said GC. “It’s all new to him.”

Last night I was at a meeting, and Natalia, CCOC’s Green Facilitator, gave me a helpful garbage-and-recycling information package for Eli. It’s the one they give their tenants, and it’s crystal clear.

GC passed it on to Eli this morning, but Eli didn’t seem interested. We’re afraid he has given up.

4 comments to New neighbours, old garbage

  • Eric

    Gah! Sigh. Good luck.

  • Julia

    Maybe if you ask him, “What seems to be the trouble?” he might tell you something about whatever it is? Like: “hey, howzitgoin, I see you seem to be having trouble with the garbage pick up. Can I help?” Like that.

  • sara

    The burning question in mind here is WHY DO YOU KEEP YOUR GREEN BIN ON YOUR FRONT PORCH?!

    Sorry for yelling, but I’m currently sitting in my nice new little condo townhouse, looking out the window to my next door neighbour’s house – who insists on keeping her blue box and green bin on her front porch. Tacky! (and smelly!)

    At least Eli has the class to keep his garbage at the back of his house.

    • Well, actually, it’s not there anymore, since we had to get it away from Eli. It’s now in the tiny back yard. (And Eli, it seems, has taken to stashing his garbage in my salt-and-sand box out back.) But I did prefer the green bin on the front porch because it was more convenient. I live in the midde of a nine-unit row. If the green bin is out back, we have to wheel it all the way down to the end of the row, and then all the way back along the street. No big deal in the summer, but kind of a hassle in the winter. Besides, I don’t think of the green bin as an eyesore. To me, it’s not tacky. As for being smelly, only when I’m opening it to put something in.