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. I’m in Jerusalem (Israel) and here every neighborhood also has green dumpsters, but instead of them being in one localized place there’s one or two every block or so. There are also separate recycling bins for bottles/batteries/CDs/plastic bags.
    I grew up in Toronto and there the city gives each family 1 huge bin for waste (blue), 1 huge green bin for recycling (papers/bottles), and one small green bin for wet waste (compost, diapers, etc). I think pick-up there is once a week.

  2. Auckland, New Zealand: We get 3 rubbish bins from the council with different coloured lids (red for regular, blue for recyclables, and green for organic), we put out the regular rubbish on the curb every week, and the recyclables every other week. Not sure about the organic stuff, ‘cos I don’t think we’ve ever put it out… And once/twice a year we put out our inorganic rubbish on the footpath (people often go about searching for treasures in these, hehe).

  3. In Belgium we have both: curbside pick-up for ‘household waste’ and a container park for recycling (wood, greenery, glass, paper,dangerous chemicals,old electrical appliances,etc). Some communities now have a system for household trash with an ‘intelligent container’: it measures the amount of trash you put in and you are billed in accordance. More trash= more pollution=bigger bill.

  4. My apt bldg in San Francisco has a trash dumpster that is picked up twice a week, then provided recycling bins are picked up once a week and we have a compost bin picked up on the same day.

    My favorite was living in a building with a trash chute, so convenient!

  5. There’s no free trash pick up on Nantucket, only a paid carting service, so we (and most other year-rounders) take our trash to the dump ourselves. I actually think it’s a good thing to be forced to see where your waste is going, especially since we live on such a tiny island. It really makes you think twice before you buy something without reusable packaging. Also, it’s sort of fun, because the landfill has a “take-it-or-leave-it” shed where I’ve found all kinds of gems – tons of baby/kid’s things, clothes, and some household things. There’s often furniture there, too.

    1. Wow does this sound good. I wish we had this system in the UK (especially the take-it-or-leave-it shed), although of course it’d have to be brought in carefully so that the lazier types didn’t just never take their rubbish/leave it in their garden/dump it at the side of the road.

  6. SLC has recycling now … in the City itself it get’s picked up weekly and then in unincorporated parts it’s every other week I think. I do like that they charge you monthly fee for your trash can and you can choose from 3 can sizes, smaller obviously cheaper but recycle is free (at least it’s free in the City proper, although we still can’t recycle glass yet). They also do a yard waste one now too. However, the City does the recycling sorting because they try and encourage recycling so they want to make it easy on the resident but they are having a lot of problems with that. For people who don’t read what you can and cannot recycle or for people who abuse the system and just use it as another garbage can — hopefully it won’t ruin it for the rest of us, but it is an issue. In the end, I think people need to take responsibility for the garbage they create, think about what they are dumping out — not just assume it disappears after they put it in a bin.

  7. How do they handle trash pick up where you live?


    Okay, it could be worse. They provide the bins, there are rarely strikes, and they let you know when the provision is going to change over holidays etc. But in this area there are also a gazillion different bags for different things, and the ones for recycling paper especially are so thin you can barely fill them, otherwise they break. And most things go in bags, not bins, so you get all these unsightly piles on pavement corners (I think some people actively try not to get a house on the corner for this reason). I heard that in other areas of the UK (where I am) they tried only picking up rubbish every two weeks and there was uproar.

    The whole topic of rubbish makes me a little anxious, because I hate that we’re using all that lovely room on our planet for landfill. But I like that you posted this, because by taking a look at how other people do things and comparing pros and cons you tend to come up with the best solution to these things. So really, you’re helping us all save the world :)

  8. So interesting! Although it isn’t super convenient to drive your trash to the dumster, it would be more convenient to recycle. We don’t have recycling pick-up here and I have been meaning to start dropping recyclables off for oh…a few months now! Otherwise, trash pick-up is once a week and I believe the trash cans are provided (rented possibly) by the company that collects the trash. (We live in an apt now so we share a large dumpster with the other residents.)

  9. Well, it’s really not a normandy’s thing…. it ‘s just because you canno’t be more in the countryside where you’re living… ;-)…. I’m living in caen, and a truck comes 5 times/weeks to pick up our garbages (the recycling one, the regular one and the one filled with your gardening things).

    When i was in Nashville, TN, we couldn’t recycling…. we needed to go far away to find a trash to recycle glass and paper/cardboard…. but, maybe it already changed there….

  10. Many places in Utah now have recycling. Which I LOVE!!! My only problem is that none of the apartment complexes that I have lived in offer it. :( I still recycle by bringing my stuff to my grandmas. :)

  11. wow- so interesting! in my town in NJ we have to pay for our own service- but i don’ t think there is a dump you can bring it to yourself, so you are stuck paying- however, you don’t bring your cans to the curb- the garbage men come around to the side of the house twice a week to collect the trash. so you don’t have to remember what day to bring it out!

  12. When did you live in Athens? I used to live there as well, and the comment about the trash strike made me laugh. I remember a couple of those. When I lived there, I used to walk down the same street every morning, and this little old little sitting on her porch would shout out “Koritsia! Skoupidia!” which means “Girls! Trash!” Then she would throw her bag of trash at my friend and I and we’d put it in the dumpster for her.

  13. Yes there is recycling in Utah now, although not for glass. It killed me to toss glass in the trash…

    And in Beynac the trash situation is the same…we have to bring our trash/recycling/whatever to the dumpsters every day. During the renovation we had insane amounts of trash. Oh man. The next time we see you my Ben can tell you about securing a DUMPSTER in France…we filled that bad boy up 2x.

  14. I didn’t roll my eyes once. Think its a great topic.
    You are right that trash collection is handled differently from locality to locality depending on a lot of factors. Funding, infrastructure, quantity etc.
    The real questions isn’t how is the trash collected the question is what is being done with it once its collected? If you think about the amount of time money and effort it takes to get the trash collected shouldn’t we be doing more with that trash than ‘dumping’ it a whole in the ground?

  15. Hi – I live in Cape Town, South Africa. We have curbside collection of household waste every Thursday and recycling on Fridays. Different suburbs have different collection days. The city provides the bins, but they remain on the property when you move. All recycling goes into one bin as the sorting process provides jobs. The city has launched a pilot project providing composting bins to reduce waste intended for municipal dumps. We have to take garden waste to desinated sites ourselves and household – and electronic appliances can be taken to several charitable organisations or other collection points.

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