The Side Saddle of Luuuuurve

In which I talk about the new Trash/Recycle Initiative.

First off, I want to say that I really dig the U’s new trash thing they have going. Many thumbs up (and I’m going to have to go borrowing thumbs again) I say, and not because it’s a suck-up brown nosed thing to say OR because I’m afraid they are going to can my ass if someone somewhere whose pet project this is happens across my tiny space of cyber land. Naw, I actually think the U took a really good step towards being more environmentally responsible. Hooray!

But.

And there is always a butt-err, excuse me, but, I’m going to have to give the U a “D” or “U” or “Check Minus” (heh, let’s see how many of you get THAT reference) on the implementation aspects of this program. Here’s the history for those of you playing at home. Monday of last week (which would have been the 5th) we came into work to discover these new “Side Saddle” waste cans which now take the place of our old cans. Our old cans are now pressed into service as recycle bins. Current recycle bins are still recycle bins, which is good because there is a finite limit to my transposition capabilities and I think this is pushing it. Especially since old trash cans in the common areas continue to be trash cans even though they are the identical twin to the former trash can that is in my office which is now a recycle bin. Currently, this makes a total of three recycle bins in my office since there are two desks and I had one of those giant sized recycle bins to begin with. You can see why I keep a jar of Advil at my desk.

These “Side Saddles” cling to the side of our old trash bin turned recycle cans and they measure 9 inches by 5 inches around the lip and are 9 inches deep. They are for “Non-recyclables” which include copy paper wrappers (I know you are thinking “What? But, copy paper wrappers are…paper. and…but…” and I was right there with you so I gave them a ring. It turns out that they lace the suckers with some sort of space aged polymer or alien technology that makes them stronger. You know, so when you happen to drop a whole box of copy paper upside down the reams don’t all split open and spill the paper everywhere. Not that *I* have ever done such a thing), tissue/paper towels, plastic stuff, wax coated paper, carbon paper, food wrappings/containers (except paper bags and empty dry food containers), photos, hard cover books, and much much more! The theory, I am pretty sure, with this drastic reduction in refuse receptacle size is to make people think about the stuff that they are tossing. Give Joe Worker a normal trash can (of the 15 inches by 7.5 inches by 14.5 inches size variety) and they are prone to toss all sorts of crud in there. Yes, and I too was guilty of the “Hrrrmmm…recycle bin’s too far away. I’ll just toss this here recyclable in the trash for today.” syndrome as well. These smaller doodads drastically cut down on that sort of thinking and make Joe Worker more aware of what they are tossing.

Y’all KNOW Joe Worker doesn’t want to have to be emptying his or her own trash so now Joe Worker is going to pause in mid toss and think “How full is this going to make my Side Saddle? Can I recyclable this?” and LO! In one fell swoop the U has managed to get Joe Worker to pause and think about the environment. Even if it is in context of Joe Worker trying to avoid making more work for Joe Worker by filling up the Side Saddle faster. And THAT is what I applaud. Amazing.

It’s generally a good idea too, I like being environmentally friendly and I’d be all about the recycling too (the cans and plastic and whatnot) if my home city had some sort of program what would pick up my cans and glass and whatnot. Suffice to say the U is making it very easy to recycle (they have cans and glass and whatnot bins too that are easily accessible) and that is a beautiful thing.

But.

The U has also changed up their trash/recycle schedule so that now they only pick up from offices once a week. They are still doing the common areas daily but your office trash and your office recycling sits about until they come by and pick it up on the one designated day. That’s potentially seven days of whatever it is festering in the Side Saddle (or hanging around in the recycle bin, but that’s not really a problem. I’ve never known the rough draft of the department minutes to acquire “character” if left for a few days in my recycle bin). Errrrr…yeah.

In defense of the change in collection, the U has been hit pretty hard by the current budget crisis and departments are doing what they can to tighten up, and cutting back on the pick up really frees up a lot of the custodians’ time. If you figure there are 60 private trash cans and it takes a custodian one minute to empty and rebag each trash can you can save an hour a day by cutting down the pick up frequency. Heck, my trash can didn’t really need to be emptied every day. I generate so little personal trash that once a week (although a tad ew) wouldn’t hinder me much…under the old system. My happy 15×7.5×14 trashcan can easily hold the 4 or 5 coffee cups and misc. wrappers and tissues I used to toss in its general direction in any given week. No problem.

The Side Saddle? That’s a whole different story. They will fit 3 medium coffee cups (two abreast and one on top), a squashed fry holder and a balled up burger wrapper and a couple miscellaneous snotty tissues before they are full. Trust me, this was exactly what was in my Side Saddle Tuesday evening before I had to bag and remove my own trash. The frightening thing is that Shar, whose unit was the test bed for this new program, told me that the original Side Saddles were smaller. In her words, “You could fit two coffee cups in them if the coffee cups sucked it in.” People, that’s tiny. What we have now isn’t much better but if you are someone who stops by the coffee shop more than twice a week you are now someone who bags and removes their own office garbage.

I did not sign up to be my own office sanitation engineer. You can say what you want about “Is it really THAT big a deal?” or “It’s only one or two small bags of garbage a week.” or whatever you want but the combination of new smaller trash bin and longer frequency between trash pick up is supremely irritating. I feel like the custodian department figured out their budget crunch woes by shuffling it off onto me (and the other people who are not in the custodian department). Oh, they will continue to “pick up” the trash once a week but if I generate any more trash than my itsy bitsy Side Saddle can handle then I am welcome to bag it and put it in a common area to be picked up. Do they truly believe that these Side Saddles can really hold a week’s worth of garbage or are they counting on us picking up their slack?

Another very irritating aspect of this new system is that they completely overlooked areas that are not public areas but serve as departmental common areas and departmental areas that generate large amounts of trash just in the daily flow of work. Our department has a common area which I discovered, quite rapidly, is overwhelmed in one day by things I need to toss (copy paper wrappers, non-recyclable packing envelopes, etc.). I can pause all I want and think about whether said thing is recyclable but I’ll come up with “Nope” every time and have to empty the common area Side Saddle once, sometimes twice a day. The general orders and processing department was in more of a panic when they realized they generated a can’s worth of recyclables in one day and a can’s worth of trash in two. In one week you wouldn’t have been able to walk into the department. Fortunately, we were able to get the custodians to do a daily pick up in their department and we will be getting a bigger trash can which should hold a week’s worth of garbage so that has been smoothed out. Still, why wasn’t anyone consulted about this beforehand?

I’m still not sure the motive behind reducing the trash receptacle size and lengthening the time between trash pick up. I’d like to not think that they have cut a bunch of people and hours and shuffled the time cut onto our shoulders because, hey! We have our own time/personnel/budget problems here, thankyouverymuch and we aren’t about to ask an entire division of the U to come and shelve a book or do a checklist. Maybe they truly didn’t think this through thoroughly and down the road all the kinks will be ironed out and we will look back and have a good laugh about it. You remember the time they thought once a week trash pick up would suffice? Bwaaaa! Or maybe they are launching a giant weight loss campaign and the small trash bins are put into place so that people stop getting fast food with take out containers that fill up half the basket. Perhaps they want people to use reusable containers and bring their lunch to work and further reduce the land fill problems. It could be they want to stimulate the economy and get people to eat out more (which would really negate the weight loss theory) because I look at the Side Saddle hanging there and think “Well, I’d bring my leftover Chinese in but the damned box would fill up the entire container. I think I’ll go out and grab a Subway…and eat it outside.”


Last Year at the booniverse: Maybe I should start a “guess the start time of that hourly” lotto or something and at least make money out of the gig.

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