Oh dear. This is quite possibly the most mundane post I’ve ever written. It’s about trash! I thought you might be curious about how it’s handled in France. Feel free to roll your eyes if this is too ridiculous of a topic. : )

In Normandy, there is no curbside trash pick up. Instead, there are dumpsters in every neighborhood, and you drive your trash to the dumpster at your convenience. I’m not sure if this is just a Normandy thing, or if it’s country-wide.

This is the first time we’ve lived somewhere without curbside pickup, so I was a bit surprised. But, since Ben Blair and I are ridiculous about forgetting to put our trash out on the right day, we’ve decided this is a good method for us. When the garbage bags are full, or the recycling has piled up, we drop them off at the dumpster during our next errand. There are specific bins for garbage, paper, plastic and glass.

Silly fact: I think everywhere we’ve lived handles trash pickup a bit differently. In Colorado, residents provided their own trash cans and put them on the side of the road once a week. Recycling was picked up every other week.

In Utah, it was similar to Colorado, but the city provided the trash can and there was no recycling. (I wonder if this has changed…)

In New York, there was trash service 5 days a week! M: regular garbage, TU: recycling, W: furniture/non-bagged items, TH: regular garbage and F: yard waste.

In Athens, Greece, we would take our garbage bags and make a big pile (no receptacle) in front of our apartment building on trash day. And then cross our fingers there wasn’t a trash strike that day. : )

How do they handle trash pick up where you live?

85 thoughts on “Trash”

  1. In our town, we have curbside pickup on Fridays and we can use our own trash cans or just put the garbage out in bags. Rural residents of our county take their trash to dumpsters at designated sites and recyclables go there as well in separate bins.

  2. I was surprised when we moved to Bordeaux to find out that they pick up trash three times a week and recycling two times per week. I’m glad we have curbside recycling, although I don’t love the (city-provided) black and green bins that clutter up the already-narrow sidewalks. With narrow, busy streets the garbage trucks do their rounds at night-time.
    Back home in Canada our city (Calgary) had just recently gotten curbside recycling before we left. The city provided big bins that have handles that allow a mechanical arm on the truck to lift them up and dump them into the truck, saving the back’s of many trash collectors I presume!
    [Talk about mundane comment!]

  3. In our neighborhood (1 hr south of DC) we can pay for curbside pick-up which is what most of our neighbors do. We are just too cheap and the dump (called a convenience center) is less than 2miles away. I’m pretty sure that we would forget to put out our trash too. This way we save a little money and sometimes find that someone else’s “trash” is our treasure – like my bedside table.

      1. We have a home in Pont Audemer in Normandy as well where we spend our summers. We do have curbside pick up so I do agree that it depends on how rural the area is in France.

  4. We have curbside pickups three times a week. The city provides all houses with three different tons (size depends on number of residents): a yellow trash can for plastic garbage, a blue one for paper and a grey one for everything else (except glass). Glass bottles have to be dropped of at glass dumpsters (seperate containers for clear, green and brown glass). Oh, I live in Germany…

  5. I think in France it depends more on how rurally you live rather than what department you live in (although that obviously plays a part too). My mum’s very remote house in the Allier doesn’t have rubbish collection, my flat in central Grenoble did (and a rubbish chute! oh lala).

    Here in London we have recycling and rubbish pick up. Lots of different things are recycled and the best thing is that you don’t have to sort it – the council sorts it once it’s collected. (In the countryside in the UK they’ll only take your recycling in most areas if you’ve pre-sorted it).

      1. Also, they’ve just started collecting food waste (cooked and raw) for anaerobic digestion at my mum’s house and she says she loves it because it means her normal bin NEVER gets stinky and takes about two weeks to fill.

        Of course, the nasty Daily Mail paper gets all het up about anything like that. They had a front page headline saying: “A slop bucket for every kitchen” about proposals to extend the scheme, as if it was a real step back in time and something to complain about. Bah.

  6. My goodness…how interesting our trash is!! lol

    We have once a week curbside pickup. We pay for it but he will take anything…. I am the only one that takes the trash out on Tuesday night…unless there is a Monday holiday..then it goes out Wednesday night… No one else ever remembers…and each Tuesday night after closing the garage door my husband will ask me…”where did you just go?”

    1. HA HA, that’s so funny! My kids used to ask EVERY SINGLE Thursday night, “Where’s Dad?” Umm…at volleyball? Where he’s been going every Thursday since 1984?

  7. Last year I lived in Taipei, and trash, recycling, plus organics were all collected 5 days a week. Organics are sorted into what can be processed then fed to pigs or other farm animals, otherwise it gets composted.

    We had to buy official trash bags that came with a shiny stamp. Residents would wait at the curb at a certain time, or as I often did, come out when I heard the garbage truck music approaching (yes just like an ice cream truck!). Then we all throw our own bags into the back of the truck ourselves, and everything else into the appropriate bins that they put out for a short while before moving along…

    A unique experience that brought neighbours out to chat for a short moment, and also quite environmentally friendly!

  8. In my city, there is trash and recycling on Thursdays. It varies for the different neighborhoods, though. My parents also live in the same city and their trash/recycling day is Tuesday. Throughout the ciy, Monday is the day for yard waste. We have specific trash bags for the city that we have to buy, but other than that we don’t pay for the service. The county provides us with recycling bings. Also, it used to be that you could pretty much put anything on the curb (even a couch!) and they’d pick it up…now you have to buy a special sticker to put on oversized items.

  9. Maria Ortiz-Cintron

    I live in the Poconos (PA), and although we do have curbside pick up (garbage once a week & recycling once a month), we also have the option of driving our trash to a local dumpster, which is organized the same way yours is in Normandy.

  10. In Tennessee, we have a weekly trash pick up at our curb. The collection company provides one big trash can, but if you fill it and need more, you can use your own trash cans, as well. No limit as to how much you put out. You can even put out trash bags along with their can. They will even take old washing machines. Just put it on the curb on your day.

    Recycle pick up is every other week. A different colored can is provided for that, but it’s huge and you can mix the recycle and they take everything—even plastics up to #7.

    Of course, we are billed for these services, but it’s really not that expensive and a wonderful conveneince. I love it—especially being able to mix the recycle items.

    1. We also have recycling like that in Austin. We get an enourmous bin and can dump plastics, aluminum, glass, and paper into it.
      I find that we recycle way more than we throw away these days because of the convenience. Also, we have to pay based on how much trash we throw away, but can recycle as much as we need to.

  11. I think it’s actually quite interesting Gabrielle! I never knew that about France trash pick-up, and also am impressed that New York was 5 days a week, wow.

  12. Sandra Gonzales

    Not a mundane or ridiculous post at all. Life is made of all the little details. Again thank you for sharing.

    Can you please share what the kids thought of school?

  13. They did change it in Utah, thank goodness :) At least where my parents live the city provides one large garbage can for trash and one large one for recycling. They are both picked up on the same day once a week.

  14. I live in Cambridge, England. We have three bins, one for regular trash, one for green waste (yard waste + cardboard + food) and one for mixed recyclables (glass, plastic, paper, cans). The bins are provided by the city (presumably as part of our yearly “council tax”). Our day is Wednesday. They alternate the pick-up every week, one week regular trash, the next green waste + recyclables, then back to trash… So our regular trash only gets picked up every other week (used to be weekly when we moved here 8 years ago)! Our bin is usually pretty full by the end of that period, so if we forget to put the bins out one week, we’re in real trouble. Also, if there is a run of really hot weather, the bin gets absolutely disgusting by the pickup.

  15. In Provo, we’ve paid extra for recycling cans (we use two) for a little over eight years. The recycling cans are blue, the regular trash cans are black, and yard waste is green. Black cans are picked up & emptied once a week, green cans once a week during spring/summer/autumn months, and blue cans every OTHER week (which is why we’ve gone with two — we recycle too much for an every-other-week pickup, I guess). The city just began an opt-out initiative, though: beginning soon (August?), each resident who doesn’t already have a blue can will have one delivered ($5/month, added to utility bill), but can opt out if they choose. I do wish Provo did more (for instance, separating the recycling, like we did growing up in NY), but I’m glad they’re making it easier for residents to begin recycling with this opt-out program.

  16. The first things I thought of when I saw the title of this were the trash strikes in Greece. I remember my ship pulling into port and seeing the huge piles of trash. Then, I moved there and it seemed to just be common.

  17. I still remember the first time I ever heard of recycling. My grandma lived just outside DC, and she had a big blue bin in her carport that she was supposed to put her metal, glass, and plastic in. I was just a kid at the time, and thought it sounded strange and complicated, but of course now it seems like the most normal thing ever!

  18. Trash is never dull! Or at least that’s what I tell myself since I spend so much of my working hours dealing with it, analyzing it, and finding ways to avoid it. : )

    I’ll refrain from commenting much except to say that I think most of the US is far behind Europe when it comes to diverting/recycling/composting. (There are some exceptions of course.) Or maybe it’s just that Europe is better at not producing the trash in the first place…

  19. I live in Orem, UT and we have once a week pickup, bin provided (for a fee) by the city. And we do have recycling! Every other week, in a lot of Utah cities :)

  20. Still no glass recycling curbside in Salt Lake, which drives me nuts. I love that they have added the yard waste/compostable bin to our lineup though. It’s amazing how much stuff can be diverted out of the garbage.

  21. Only you can make a trash article sound interesting! Haha, it is interesting though!

    In Dallas, the city provides us with a wheeled trash bin and a blue wheeled recycle bin. You have to request the recycle bin, which is kind of funny, because I came home one day to a big blue bin on my front stoop one day, and had to wheel it back to the alley myself . Doesn’t the city of Dallas know where it belongs?

    Anyway, because of budget cuts, they only pick up once a week, which is kind of a beating (especially when trash day falls on a national holiday, like it did this week). However, we don’t have to sort our recycling, which I love.

  22. I love info about these little “mundane” tasks. After all, these are the things that make a town run well. When I was in Paris last month I took several pictures of the garbage trucks working their way through the small arrondisement streets. I also got a kick out of the big glass recycling containers throughout the city.

    In my Utah county we have two provided cans – one trash, the other recycling. Trash is weekly and recycling is every other week. You can also opt in for lawn waste which is another, green, can. Or you can do what we do and just haul lawn waste to one of the several drop off areas.

    1. Seriously! There are even theories that the trash service is tied to organized crime — that somehow they force communities to adopt the 5 day service and then charge for it.

      I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but that one was always interesting to me. : )

  23. In my borough of south Dublin, Ireland, the council issues each house with three bins (one green, one black, one brown). Each one is fitted with a micro-chip (no joke!) to measure the weight and number of bin-lifts and each home is billed accordingly. Green is for recyclable items, which are collected curbside once a fortnight, free of charge. Black is for unrecyclable waste, which is collected curbside once a week and charged at €0.20 per kilo plus a lift charge of €3.00 (pretty steep!). Brown is for organic waste, which is collected fortnightly and charged at 20% less than unrecyclables.
    If I were in charge, I would definitely make some changes: the organic waste collection should be more frequent (two weeks of organic waste gets stinky!) and a lot cheaper (we’re providing the council with free compost after all!), and the non-recyclables collection should be a lot less frequent and even more expensive -seems that’s the only way to persuade people to “reduce, reuse, recycle” :)
    And, yes, I’ve told my local council what I think ;)

  24. i think this is very interesting. i think it is very smart that they don’t have curbside trash service. maybe it will make people this a bit more about what they are throwing out & how much trash they are producing if they have to make a trip for it. i would be ALL for it if they changed it to that where i live (in Oregon)… although i have a feeling people would be mighty upset if they did that. thanks for sharing!

  25. In Vancouver we have trash & recycling pick up a couple days a week. I live downtown, and most apartment building have their own dumpsters, but my street is different- it’s part of the last full block of heritage houses downtown. There are two “garbage rooms” for the block, each with a dumpster for garbage and large bins for recycling (containers, newsprint, other paper/cardboard) and yard waste (which is picked up and composted by the city). We don’t have pick up for large items, like furniture, but I can usually disassemble stuff enough to fit it in the dumpster.

  26. In Utah it is determined by the city whether or not they provided recycling cans and pick-up, but most cities now do. It is definitely something that most people want so I’m glad they do it. Makes recycling much more convenient. :)

  27. I don’t think this post is mundane at all, I find it fascinating (as will my husband when I tell him about it). Here in Phoenix we are provided one large regular trash container and one for recycle. We roll the bins out to the curb and each gets picked up once a week. Yard clippings and such get picked up 4 times a year and you just leave them in a pile on the street in front of your house. This is a good reminder of all the little things you discover when you move.

  28. We moved to Ogden (Utah) two years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised to find they have curbside pickup for recycling, and what’s really nice is that it’s the same day as trash pickup, so we only have to remember one day a week :)

    I actually think this topic is sort of fascinating!

  29. In Ireland, the local city or county council provides every household with two bins; home refuse and dry recycleables, which are collected a few times a week. Some places also provide a smaller one for glass, which is collected once a week. The company we deal with also sends a text to remind us on which day to put which bin on the curb.

    For electrical waste, furniture and other large items, you either have to hire a skip (this is only really used if a house is, say, renovating, and has a lot of waste) or bring it to the dump yourself. Here, there are specific places for specific items.

  30. I am in Utah and for a little over a year now, we pay for a recycling bin and it gets picked up every other week, at least in our city. I love it, I recycled before, but I recycle a lot more now that it is picked up rather than me having to make the trip myself.

  31. This was probably answered in previous comments. Utah has recycling now (in most cities) and has for at least 7 years (that’s when we moved here.) I am from Bridgehampton, L.I. New York. There you don’t have city trash pickup. You contract with a boutique garbage collection firm. They have these tiny garbage trucks that zip up your drive and clear the rubbish. Very civilized but expensive!

  32. Based on the number of comments, people find garbage pretty interesting. : )
    Here in New Westminster (small city near Vancouver, B.C., Canada) we have weekly pick-up of trash, recycling, and compostables. Compostables that are picked up including grass clippings, and food scraps such as egg shells, vegetable and fruit peel, meat, bones and food-stained paper, such as paper towel.
    Right now we have to seperate our recycling into paper, newspaper and containers (glass and plastic), but our city is planning to move a single-bin recycling system soon, so we will be able to dump everything into one bin.

    1. I love the idea of collecting compostables. Does your city make the compost available to the citizens? Or maybe use it at local parks and on city owned flower beds?

      1. They collect compostables here, too (although I’m not sure how many people know exactly what counts). I’m pretty sure they use it for the parks – it’d be nice to give it to our poor struggling farmers, but I guess it’s not high enough quality!

  33. I love the idea of being able to take your trash anytime you want, though I’m afraid we’d get quite behind. We have weekly trash and recycling pickup in Kansas City, but they don’t take glass, and it always takes me forever to get our glass to the bins, even though we have some quite close. We were provided with a large plastic bin for our recycling, and can put out up to two bags of trash per week for free. We can purchase tags for additional bags of trash, which I think cost $1, but we don’t know because our goal is to only put out one bag per week and recycle the rest. It’s a pretty convenient system.

  34. I love how this post has grown with the comments– telling us all sorts of information about the different cultures and how they handle trash!

  35. We live in an apartment in Jackson Hole, and we take our trash out to the dumpster. There are two recycling drop offs in town, so you take your recycling there and seperate it – it looks very similar to the pictures above, just not as cute. :-) Recycling was handled the same way the last place we lived, in Humboldt County, CA.

    I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and they had trash and recycling curb site pick up. I miss that!!!!

  36. Hi there, I agree with two comments up that the comments have made for a very educational post!

    In Toulouse we have curbside waste pick-up three times a week (M W F) and recycle pick-up once a week (on the same day as a waste pick-up). It’s okay if we forget to put the trash out because pick-up is frequent.

    In Biarritz, where we spend most of summer, we have to walk the trash to separate bins in the city, sort of like your set up.

    Curbside pick up is the most convenient but walking to the bin means your (smelly?) trash doesn’t sit around for long.

  37. In Australia we have two big green wheelie bins with different coloured lids. One if for regular trash and one is for recylables. They are picked up on the same day each week (our area is wednesday) but the recycle one is only picked up every two weeks.

    Its fun to blog the differences in culture I think, even rubbish is interesting in an international setting :)

  38. This IS interesting!

    In my large-ish suburb of Dallas, we have trash pick-up twice a week and recycling once. (For us, Monday is both, Thursday is trash only.) For big items and yard waste, you get on the city website or call to have them picked up as needed. They have you check a box to say whether it is compostable or not.

    We don’t do bins, you just put your trash bag in the alley. They say that trash should be in a black trash bag, but they seem to take anything. Recycling has to go in a special blue bag (everything together), which you have to buy — except that every year we get a letter from the city saying, effectively, “If you don’t already, please participate in our recycling program! Here’s a coupon to get free bags!” so we haven’t bought bags in years.

  39. Just outside of Seattle, we have a weekly (Tuesdays) trash and yardwaste (curbside) pickup and a bi-weekly recycling pickup. Our system is that my husband *always* puts out the trash and I *always* bring the cans back in. :)

  40. We have regular trash pick up (curbside) with city provided cans on Tuesday and recycling (bags provided by city) and bulk (boxes or large items that don’t fit in the cans) on Fridays. Different areas of the city are on different days. I live in College Station TX .

    I like how “pretty” the trash station is.

  41. Currently we have trash pick-up twice a week and recycling every other week. There are certain days you can put out bulk items and yard waste but I always have to look it up.

    When we lived in Germany we had to separate our recycling (paper/cardboard, plastic and glass), trash and compost. We had bags from the town that we could put our plastic recycling in, a town supplied bin for paper/cardboard, a town supplied bin for our trash and a town supplied bin for our compost. The bins supplied by the town were different sizes with the trash bin being the smallest. The first few months there we always ended up having too much trash and having to take it to the dump. After we got used to it, separating everything was easy enough. For our glass recycling we had to drop it off in town and sort it by color.

    I still am always checking what I can recycle here even though I’ve lived in this town for over three years. I got used to the way we did things in Germany and still think I can recycle everything (which I can’t here).

  42. Here in Australia we have weekly curbside pick up of trash + recycling picked up every fortnight – bins provided by council but we pay for them. then they do curbside pick up of big items like sofas etc at set times of the year.

    My ILs live in Brittany and we visited last year – I found it so odd to take the tradh and recycling to the centre. Thought it was bad enough when we visited them in the UK and had to drive all the recylcing (but i think that is more normal around the world still).

    Growing up in NYC i think the daily sound of garbage trucks became my soundtrack to NY with a few sirens thrown in on the hour too! (Australia is so quiet compared to NYC)

  43. Japan has a pretty intense garbage system. Everything has to be thrown away in clear plastic bags, so in case you don’t separate things properly they can tag it and leave it for you to fix. There are little cages strategically placed around neighbors where you deposit your trash. For us we throw away “burnable” on Monday and Thursday, “plastics” on Tuesday, “non-burnable” every other Wednesday, and “PET bottles, cans, and glass jars” on Friday. Also on Thursday you leave out cardboard and paper stuff that is tied up for recycling, and anything like clothing to donate. We have a 5 page packet that lets us know what goes where (CDs are non-burnable, chip bags with foil lining are still plastics, etc…)
    About once a month a truck drives through announcing that they are collecting bulk items.
    And our garbage truck plays music too! I love it.

  44. Of course if you don’t have curbside pickup, your toddler boys are missing out on the most entertaining day of the week! One of my littlest’s first words was guck, for garbage truck! This was a most interesting topic.

  45. In Chicago we have a dumpster for trash that’s picked up three days a week. There is no recycling for apartment buildings so we bring our recycling to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. They have a dumpster outside the building for recycling. For furniture and random stuff that’s somewhat usable we leave it in the alley and scrap trucks come and pick it up to make money on the materials.

  46. This is actually a fascinating topic, probably cause we all deal with trash on a daily basis, no matter where we live.

    Here in St. Louis Missouri (city, not county – different story) we have trash dumpsters, yard waste dumpsters, and brand shiny new recycling dumpsters in our alleys. We also live across the street from a school which has a paper dumpster for fundraising. Up until the new recycling dumpsters were added, trash pickup was completely free, now it is $11 per month, which I think is still a great bargain.

    We also have bulk pickup every 3rd Monday, and after Christmas you can drop off your spent tree at two city parks to be mulched. Later in summer, that mulch is also free!

  47. here in switzerland you have to buy specially marked trash bags(or stickers), otherwise it does not get collected. If your building has a dumpster you can place your bags there, if not, you take your trash out on pick up day. Batteries, water filters, Plastic and glass you take back to the store to put in the recycling containers. Electronics you also take back to a store that sells similar, even if you did not buy it there. Paper and cardboard pick up comes once every 2 weeks (depending on our town), and needs to be nice and bundled. Chemicals and oils are collected once every 6 months (i think), as are big items (like old furniture).
    They are VERY serious about the recycling and trash here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top