It hit me the other day as I watched two men in a station wagon cruising slowly down the street, inspecting the assorted trash outside everybody’s house, that when the town switches over to the new barrel system this fall, one of the town’s long-standing traditions will die.
If the only stuff that trash collectors will pick up is whatever we can cram in the barrel for the one-armed trucks to lift, dump and return to the curb empty, then there’s no place anymore for putting old Playschool climbing toys on the side of the road, or aging tv sets with “IT WORKS” signs taped on the tubes, or boxes of odds and ends from the basement. They either get tossed in the can or hauled off to …. well, I’m not sure.
What I do know is that I probably won’t be trying to lug an old bookshelf home that my neighbor down the block no longer wants. I’ll just see neat rows of big trash cans, with nothing to differentiate one from the other except perhaps whether the lids are firmly closed or propped up a bit by that final bag of kitchen litter.
I imagine this change will have quite an impact on the stores throughout the area that sell used goods and for the people who take out trash to flea markets.
What it really does, I’m afraid, is to push us a little further towards becoming the throw-away society we all loathe, even as embrace its ethos day in and day out. What’s old and unwanted simply disappears. It never even makes a pit stop by the side of the road, where a hope of new life still exists.