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Many moons ago, our building instituted a policy where the trash cans in people’s offices or cubicles were not longer to be used for trash, only for recyclables. If you have any trash to throw away, you have to walk it to a common area.

Now, think about that: every time you use a Kleenex, every time you have a small piece of food or a wad of tape or a soiled napkin or bloody gauze, you have to walk that trash to some common area. For some people, that means walking across the building to a kitchen or copier room.

A thoughtful building management company would have thought to do both: empty your trash and empty your recycling. But not our building.

For a long time, the janitorial staff has been just emptying our garbage anyway. But a while back, that stopped. I didn’t even realize it until about a week later. By then, my can was filled with apple cores and tissues and those gross parts of the mini carrot you have to bite off because it’ll taste like stem if you don’t. So I decided that I’d try it out. Maybe I can put my trash can in the kitchen every night to be emptied. Of course, that didn’t work well. My trash can is my last thought as I leave here every day.

So I came in today and had the following polite but infuriating note placed on my keyboard:

Well, that’s it, you jokers. Time for one of my patented rant letters. Here it is. It won’t affect change, but at least they have no doubt that one more person here hates the stupid policy.

Hello.

I know that the Tower’s poorly-thought-out “no trash in trash cans” effort has been more strictly enforced in recent weeks. I was going to try to be okay with the new crack-down and empty my own trash can myself whenever I remembered to do so. However, I found one of the “Oops!” notices this morning on my keyboard, and so I have to get this off my chest.

Recycling pick-up is not an every-day need. Trash pick-up is.

I already walk to the kitchen to rinse out things like bottles, cans, lunch containers, frozen meal trays, yogurt cups, etc., so they can be properly recycled in the blue or green bins. I will not also be walking to the kitchen every time I blow my nose or pull off the non-recyclable top to a food container or dispose of leaves that have fallen from my plants or when a napkin has been soiled or when a piece of gaff tape has been pulled off a box or when a raisin or a cashew or a piece of lettuce from a sandwich has fallen on the floor etc. etc. etc.

Dry recycling—which I assume is really just clean paper, clean cardboard, and non-soiled plastics/glass/metal—does not need to be emptied every day. It does not rot, does not pose a threat of vermin or mold, does not smell. Trash, however, is another matter. It should be picked up and disposed of every single day. Office buildings have been doing this as a courtesy to their tenants for countless decades. (Citation needed, of course, but I think you get the gist.)

The “let’s all recycle!” message The Tower is trying to use for this program comes off as insincere, just some marketing speak wrapped up in a desire to get some kind of tax-incentive building accreditation and to, perhaps, cut costs. If The Tower really wants to “save our planet,” then they should have added an in-office and in-cubicle recycling program to the standard trash service. Two containers would be swell—most of us had two containers anyway! Why not empty the trash every evening, then empty trash and recycling once a week? Say on Fridays? Still a bump in cost, but then the program is truly about the tenants and making our lives here better and not just about other, building-selfish concerns.

Perhaps it’s petty to complain about something that, in the end, takes only a few more moments out of the day. But that could be said about The Tower, too, asking us to do what has been their job. The flawed logic of this program is what gets me so riled. So is the lack of input from the people who actually have to live here every day. So is the inequality of people of a higher pay grade and with nicer offices having their trash emptied without complaint.

So I will not be walking every single piece of trash to the kitchen. I will continue to throw it into my trash can, because that’s what it’s for. If I forget to then walk that receptacle to the kitchen every night before I leave for home, and continue to do so for a week or more, then so be it. I’ll get to it when I remember to do so. If it’s now my job to be a janitor for my office trash, then I’ll get to it when I can, and I’ll thank The Tower for not meddling in what is now my personal business.

Thanks for listening.

–Steve

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