Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rubbish in the Land of Basura

Since there is no shop in Barcelona with Travelpro wheelie bag parts, my poorly executed attempt at being a professional princess is destined for the rubbish bin. But that is not why I am showing you this rubbish bin photo.

No, it’s because I think Barcelona’s rubbish bins are so darn sensible. Not the rubbish bins themselves, mind you, because they are inanimate objects. But the use of them.

In the US, garbage pickup burns huge amounts of fossil fuel as giant diesel trucks go around to each one of our homes. Then men gather up small bags of garbage from the curb and physically carry it to the truck in the street, and toss it into the back. The truck drives about five feet, then this process is repeated until an entire neighborhood’s garbage has been collected.

In Barcelona, we are all required to carry our rubbish to the bins at the end of the block. The bins serve 2-4 blocks each. One bin is for glass, one for plastic, one for cardboard, and one for wheelie bags/coffee grinds/egg shells and the like. Then the trucks only need to make one stop for each several-block area.

And as an added bonus, it makes dumpster-diving more efficient for those down on their luck, or in need of a broken suitcase.


Amanda Castleman said...

Do they have nifty foot pedals like the ones in Rome? Ax.

Marie said...

YES! Marvelous invention. Saves you the trouble of getting garbage juice all over your paws.

Course, when I lived here, it took me several times of putting out the trash before I realized that metal bar was a foot pedal.

Amanda Castleman said...

A period of confusion is par for the course (it took the Muppet about a year to suss the pedal).

The "foot button" sinks really throw folks off too. Now there's another unsung invention...

Do you think Americans are late-adaptors because their pride is stung by the bewilderment? Ax.

Marie said...

I don't know... it took us years to grasp the SIM card... anyway, I'm proud to say it didn't take me a year to find the foot pedal.

Sara Kocher said...

Our garbage men don't have to lift anything or even get out of the trucks. All three trucks for residential pickup (recycling, yard waste, regular trash) have robot arms that lift the wheeled trash cans up, dump the contents into the back of the truck, and then gently lower the bins back to the street. Uses more fuel that way, but generates fewer worker's comp claims.

Our city of 40,000 has 23 garbage trucks, for both residential and commercial pickups. I think they're natural gas or another alternate, not diesel, but I'm not sure. Gotta wonder how much that all costs.

Sara Kocher said...

Oh, and I'm in the U.S. Forgot that part.

Amanda Castleman said...

The Muppet is an unusual case. After living in Britain three years (late 90s), he finally asked, "who is this Tony Blair guy anyway?"

I shouldn't throw stones, though. When I had adult chicken pox, I answered the door with my bra over my shirt (it cut down on the chafing). The editorial assistant – who was delivering magazine proofs – let me stand there chatting for five minutes before she mentioned anything.

Jammy cow.