Trash isn't something we really think about. We toss something in a bag, in a bin, then dump that bin in a bigger bin, then someone comes to take it away. However, it's who comes to take it away that we might never give a second thought. Garbagemen and women are incredibly undervalued in our society, usually working under intense pressure and timelines to essentially play mommy to whole cities. Anything you can do to help make their lives easier would be great, unlike the people talked about in the stories below.

Reddit user, u/bb2210, wanted to hear the inside-the-can stories when they asked:

Garbagemen if reddit, what are your pet peeves about all of us? What can we do to make your job better?

You Know You Can't Just Throw Away Anything, Right?

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Be Selective. Don't put just any random thing in the trash. There are quite a few things that are either illegal to put in your trash or dangerous in some way. Dispose those items properly.


Propane cylinders in particular! I worked in a landfill for a few weeks as a temp job right after college, the D7 dozer ran over one that was partially full and while no one was injured, it blew out the back window of the bulldozer.


Burn, Baby, Burn

For the love of God do not try and hide kerosene heaters, flammable liquids or anything else that will burst into flames in your trash can. When the truck dumps the can and compacts it, it will catch fire or blow up. So then guess what, I'm now going to dump 10 tons of flaming garbage right in front of your house so I can save my $350K truck and not let it burn to the ground.


Think Of The People Behind The Job

We don't have the garbage trucks that have the mechanical arms that pick up the bins. We ride off the back of it, stop, dump the bins, repeat. Basically if two men can't pick it up, its not going in.

So. With that information. Stop dumping your damn furniture! You have a place you can call that can haul it away properly. Don't shout at me and my partner because your couch has been sitting on the curb for two weeks. If we can't pick it up, it can't go in the truck.

Also, put your needles in a sharps container!


Remember What Smokey Said?

Don't put used fireworks/charcoal/etc in your cans. Even if you think they're out. They can reignite in the packer of the truck and cause a load fire. We've had several a year the time I've been with my company.


That's Why We Have Bags, Right?

Please don't put loose trash in the can, super simple but so many people in my town do it . The wind will carry so much trash all over the lawn and then we get calls and complaints that we were "reckless" in disposing of their trash. Had too many co workers be wrote up for this when the residents were the ones just letting loose trash fly about


We. See. Everything.

Stop telling us we missed your bin when you forgot and put it out late.

We have cameras on the trucks now. We can see straight through your lies.


You Better Believe They'll Just Leave It

When I was a garbagewoman I used to HATE people who build as much as they can on top of the bin. The funny part is the company I worked for decided it was an OHS [occupational health and safety] problem, so we just put a sticker on the front of the bin & left it.


Public Trash Bins Are Not Your Personal Bins

I worked for a parks department for a time, and I was the one to empty the garbage cans in all of the parks in the city. (it's not very big.)

Putting things like;

  • whole vacuum cleaners
  • drug stashes
  • garbage bag full of house hold garbage
  • dead things
  • broken glass
  • bulk frozen things
  • unfinished dairy based liquids

aren't cool.


The Broken Glass Advice Is Pretty Good

I've been out of the game for a few years, but I'll name two that really pissed me off; if you can afford to not use dollar store garbage bags, please do so. They tear super easy to and make a goddamn mess that I then needed to clean up. And don't then fill the bloody things with heavy cat litter.

Second; broken glass goes in a taped up box, not the garbage bag. Noone likes getting stabbed by random glass hidden in a garage bag.


Use Those Bins Correctly

Frustrated Lisa Simpson GIF by The SimpsonsGiphy

Not a garbageman but worked in a safety role for a waste collection company -- Please use your bins correctly.

If general waste goes into a cardboard collections bin, for example, the whole lot of cardboard waste has to go to general disposal instead of recycling.

Worst case scenario, if you're disposing of solvents, oil etc. instead of doing the right thing and taking them to the local dump (or arranging a specific pickup of hazardous goods), you could cause a fire.

And it should go without saying but.. please don't dispose of explosive materials in general waste!?

ETA something "relevant to the post"
Most common 'bastard client' complaints I've heard are:

  1. Domestic bins are too far away from the curb and have to be moved into position (wastes time, causes injury depending on how heavy bins are/how many they have to move on any given day)
  2. Domestic bins are too full (Can end up throwing trash around the place) or bags are placed outside of the bin (if you have a good guy driver, he'll pick them up too. He doesn't have to.)
  3. Commercial dumpsters have to be dragged uphill/across sh-tty ground/over drains to get to the pickup position (wastes time and causes injury again. Lot of injury incidents arise from drivers being the ones to have to drag the dumpsters out so they can pick them up)
  4. Commercial dumpsters are overfilled. (as above, but to the max.)

So mainly.. Pull your bins to the curb (if they're domestic) or to an easily accessible area (if they're commercial). You only have to pull your bins once. If everyone's bins need moving, that driver's moving hundreds of bins per day.


Throwing Bags At Them Isn't Cool, Bro

For the love of god, don't leave your bags out of the can, if you have too much garbage filled with spoiled food, then you aren't using your trashcans every week. Animals will get to them, maggots will begin to show up in them from all the rotting food because bugs love the smell. And don't and I mean don't ever toss your bags at us if you miss the day we come by to pick up your literal sh-t...


Even More Explosions?

Aerosol and pressurized cans (like febreeze, sunscreen, etc)need to be fully emptied before disposing of, or better yet taken to an HHW drop off. When the trash gets compacted it can start a fire and/or explode.


This Sounds Like A Literal Nightmare

Packing peanuts are the worst. Put them in a bag and TIE IT. Don't leave them in an open box.

Quit throwing grocery bags in the recycle.


Seems Like There's Lots Of Rules For Furniture

In our region, you can't just throw a couch out on a curb and expect it to be picked up. We have a Large Item Pickup number you need to call a week before, for pickup.

If you've thrown a couch out on the curb and it's still there two weeks later check with your city RE: large item pickup.

*Note that all places don't have this, but yours might.


Give Bins The Proper Space

As a driver of bin lorrys in Scotland one thing that would make life at easier, just park your cars bloody properly. Especially due to the size of trucks we have (8x4 axle) most people don't use their driveways/can't park properly and resulting in me haveing to pass a few inches between cars on each side of the road.


Break The Rules? They'll Make You Pay A Fine.

Based on a warning that could have been a fine I got while my mother in law lived with me, use bags.

[Don't] pour cat litter directly in the bin.


As a cat owner, [I] cringe at this. How could you scoop the litter directly into a bin? Always use a bag


Where Do People Think All That Liquid Goes?

Not a garbage man, but a maintenance worker who takes out a lot of garbage.

Please stop putting liquids in the trash at stores or gas stations or anywhere someone would have to physically pull out the trash bag. Would you throw away a 3/4 full extra large soda at your own house? They make the bags so heavy and it will all come out of the bottom and will get everywhere, then we have to mop or clean with a hose. Every time.

If you don't want your drink, empty the liquids in a sink, gutter, or in some soil (away from plants) and only throw the container away in the bin.


They Need Room To Work

If you have two cans. Space them at least 3 ft apart.


Need Some Help? Here's A Few, Rapid Fire!

Don't park in no parking zones or right next to tight alleyway entrances/exits.

Please put dirty diapers in garbage bags instead of leaving them loose in the can.

We can't always collect mattresses, long pipes, pallets, etc. Please understand that we don't make those decisions. Some are made by our bosses, others by the laws of physics.



Some Good Advice For Life, In General:

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Literally just don't be an a--. You know not to put sand or concrete or tiles, anything like that, into your can. Like, if it's something you yourself struggle to pick up/move don't f-cking put it in your can for someone to lift that plus every bit of your trash from the past week. I worked as a garbage man for a few years and I had to be put on workers comp for herniating 3 discs cause someone filled their can with sheetrock and tile and covered it with loose paper, like, if you're going to do it let me see it so I can prep myself to pick it up. You putting too much weight into your can has the chance to change someone's life drastically forever.

I do know I could have prevented it by just not taking the can but I had already lifted it into the air when I realized and it was to late. We didn't have hydraulic lifts so I had to do it all by hand, 2-3k cans a day is rough when ya pick em all up.