Trash Talk with our New Neighbors
So, we did finally figure out what happens to our trash with a little help from our new neighbors. But, it wasn’t quite as straight forward as I would have expected and, definitely, challenges us to be more responsible consumers who produce less waste.
Before we even moved, I tried to find a company that would provide trash and recycling barrels for us and pick them up “at the curb.” I chose to set up trash service with Waste Management, a national brand of trash collection service that we had experienced as reliable in California. They told us that they would leave a trash and recycling barrel for us on the Friday before we moved in. Perfect. Easy peasy. Check the trash problem off my list. Done.
And, then we moved in and there was no sign of any trash cans anywhere on our property. But, remember, it is 10 acres, so we thought maybe they’d turn up with a little looking. We got busy unpacking boxes and forgot to look until we were suddenly up to our eyeballs in empty boxes and packing paper.
We decided to look for them in earnest on Saturday morning, thinking that maybe the trash people simply forgot to drop them off to us that first Friday. We were carrying on with our unpacking that Friday night when our doorbell rang. Now, in Los Angeles, it wasn’t super unusual for someone to be at your door trying to sell you something or leaving a package from Amazon or something. But, we are really out in the country and it was dark and cold out. We all simultaneously headed to the door to open it. Me and Hannah came in from the kitchen, Nathan came running up from the basement with the baby, and Steve came out of his office and we all converged on the door at the same time. Lol. Good thing none of us perceived it as a threat, so we didn’t have any weapons drawn or anything. But, I think our new neighbors were surprised when we opened the door and all 5 us greeted them. Haha. Poor things. They had no idea what they were getting into. Or, maybe they did…
Bob says, “Hi. We’re your new neighbors from down the road and we came by to say hi. We didn’t know what you drink so we brought red wine, white wine, and bubbles.”
Um, okay… people with wine can definitely come in!
We invited them in, opened some wine, moved some boxes and paper, and sat down to visit with our new neighbors, Bob and Wendy. As it turns out, Bob is an accomplished stalker and has been following the blog, so they already knew who we were. I think that they are secretly worried we might die of exposure. Or, maybe they’re just amused by our naiveté. They’ve been amazingly helpful and kind and make great suggestions like, “you might want to salt your driveway or get some ice skates.”
After a few drinks, we asked them if they’d seen our trash cans anywhere. They said that they hadn’t but that you don’t need trash cans, you can just take your trash to the dump. Steve asked a few questions to be polite, but I have to admit that we both assumed that our trash situation was handled and neither of us got over curious about the dump as we had no intention of ever going there. Until about 12 hours later when we found our trash cans at the end of our driveway and carried them the quarter mile down to the house to find that it would take us about two years of breaking down our boxes and paper to dispose of all our packing material using our recycle bin that gets picked up every other week.
Steve asked me, “What was Bob saying about the dump?”
“I don’t know. I wasn’t paying any attention. Too bad you don’t have a little computer in your pocket that can help you find it.”
He rolled his eyes and went to his office to Google the dump and figure it out. Hannah called after him, “Bob and Wendy left their phone numbers, you can just call them.” She doesn’t realize how hard that would actually be for me, Steve, and Nathan. We’re all fiercely independent, stubborn, and wildly self-sufficient. Three eldest children in the same house. God help everyone else. A half an hour later, Steve walked out of his office and told me that he couldn’t find the dump on the internet. Hannah, again, said, “Maybe you should call Bob?” I picked up the challenge, fully believing that Steve couldn’t find it, but not that it couldn’t be found. After another 20 minutes, I asked Nathan to help me. If you want to share our experience, you should try to Google the dump in Stoughton. We could find all kinds of dumps, including a site that has been closed for years and is undergoing environmental restoration. That was a fun rabbit hole we all got lost down. Ugh. Hannah, again, gently suggested, “Maybe you want to call the neighbors?” So, defeated, I finally picked up the phone and called Bob. He sounded surprised to have me call for help so soon. I told him our predicament and asked if he could tell us the name and/or the address of the dump so that we could find it.
He said, “Uuuuhmmm… I don’t know if it has a name. And, I’m not sure of the address. But, I can tell you how to find it.”
“Okay, great. Thanks.”
Fortunately, I had the piece of paper with his phone number on it to take notes because this is what he told me, word for word, off the top of his head:
“Go to the end of your driveway and turn left. Make the first left onto County Road A. Go about 3 miles. If you hit highway 14, you’ve gone too far. About a mile before highway 14, you will see a cell phone tower off to the right. That cell phone tower is in the dump. Turn off on the dirt road on your right there where the red iron gate is. It’s Saturday so it should be opened. Drive about a mile down the dirt road. There will be an old trailer on your left. Go into the trailer and set up an account. You’ll need a number to use the dump. Just tell them your address and they’ll get you all set up. It costs $1-$2 per bag of trash and recycling is free. The dump is only opened on Saturdays from 9-4. Make sure you get there by 3:30 at the latest. They don’t stay a minute past 4:00.”
I hung up the phone and thought, “Holy crap. Steve is never going to find this place. He can’t find the peanut butter in our pantry. None of the roads around here are actually marked and how do you know that you’re a mile before a road you haven’t happened upon yet?”
I was grateful I took notes and completely skeptical that I got them all right and that we’d actually find it. But, Steve and I loaded up a truck full of boxes and packing paper and went gamefully on a wild goose chase looking for the dump. And, you know what? Bob’s instructions were perfect. I mean, perfect. Every landmark was exactly where he said it would be and was exactly what we needed to find the dump. He failed to mention the junk yard dog with six toes on each foot that was in the scary trailer that looks like a meth lab or horror film waiting to happen. But, that was just a delightful surprise that we got to have as part of our adventure to the dump.
We have, since, figured out our trash barrels. While we have “curbside” trash service, our “curb” and our mailbox are at the end of the quarter mile long driveway. I think Steve feels heroic taking the barrels down the driveway in freezing weather and snow. And, he has managed not to kill himself on the ice when our driveway is completely frozen over. But, we’re still making almost weekly trips to the dump to get rid of the last of our packing materials and our Amazon and Blue Apron boxes. We’ve been talking about starting up a compost bin and a worm bin in the spring. I can’t bear to think about trying to keep any other creatures alive right now. In the meantime, we’ll be using our barrels and our local country dump.