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Garbage In

Electric garbage can at Atlanta Airport 

As I walked by the garbage can in the Atlanta airport, it opened its mouth.  Yes, the thing is automatic, so that you don’t have to waste energy pushing it open to throw away your coffee cup or Hershey wrapper.  Of course, it wastes lots of other energy.  I see public service messages on TV telling me to unplug my chargers.  They call such things energy vampires.  How about the electric garbage can?  And anything that has moving parts wears out.  That means that these things require maintenance.  So some pinheads have taken a simple thing like a garbage can and made it complicated and expensive. 

Solar powered garbage canBut that was not the end of the waste odyssey.  I was walking around Roslyn and noticed an even more expensive and complicated garbage can.  These garbage cans evidently compress the garbage after you toss it in. This waste is probably justified by some people, since they run on solar energy.  Each of these things has a solar panel on top.  But solar energy is not free. There is a considerable capital investment.  I cannot believe these fancy garbage cans will ever break even.  I suppose since they compress the garbage, the garbage collectors can come around less frequently, but I bet they don’t. What happens to the liquid? People throw away half full cups of soda or coffee.  They toss out organic materials and food. So can you really leave this stewing even if – maybe especially if – it is pressed together. So this machine squeezes the juice out of garbage.  It seems to me that this worsens rather than improves the garbage disposal situation.  It requires more, rather than less care and it does so at significant cost. 

IMO, these are all examples of somebody spending somebody else’s money. You couldn’t sell one of these things to an individual homeowner, at least an individual homeowner whose home isn’t the nut house.  Consider if they didn’t have these things.   What if you had to push the thing open with your own muscle power in Atlanta or if the trash was not compacted into little package in Arlington. What a hardship.  It is certainly worth the thousands of dollars and commitment to future maintenance.  Yeah. 

On a related note, garbage cans in Brazil (which you actually have to push open manually, BTW) often have the word “Obrigado” written on them. Obrigado in Portuguese means thank you, thank you for throwing away your own garbage. We have the same thing in the U.S. in some places.  I was talking to someone who told me that he had a friend who asked why Brazilians kept on saying “garbage”. Sounds absurd, but it makes sense if you recall where this guy commonly saw the word written.


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Comments

Loved this story! Your points about waste are completely valid but I also found it funny; it's all just so ridiculous. Meanwhile, someone is patting himself on the back for going green (at our expense, as you point out).

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