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Busiest time of year for trash collectors

William Ferchland
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Remnants of a present-filled Christmas sit outside a home in the Bijou area on Tuesday morning.
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Bob Rockwell trailed a garbage truck in his Chevy pickup through the Bijou neighborhood and looked at one pile of trash with a box for an oil-filled radiator.

“That was somebody’s present,” said Rockwell, route manager for South Tahoe Refuse Company.

The initial weeks after Christmas are the busiest of the year for the garbage company when cardboard boxes, plastic bags filled with wrapping paper and discarded Christmas trees accumulate on the side of the road.

Refuse employees Leonard Soares and Rogelio Gutierrez were running a route in the Bijou neighborhood. Asked if there was a lot of garbage, Gutierrez just nodded his head.

After a couple of days garbage employees get a feel for the popular gifts of the season. Rockwell said Tuesday was too early for such a feeling but last year was full of discarded boxes for coffee makers and George Foreman grills.

One house had a Christmas tree, a package for a three-drawer roller cabinet, numerous crumpled sheets of wrapping paper and an empty case of Corona. Also in the heap were Christmas lights and a naked Christmas tree.

“It’s always good to get this time of year behind us,” Rockwell said. “This time of year” includes old pumpkins from Halloween and turkey carcasses from Thanksgiving filling trash cans.

Cited in a story on National Geographic’s Web site, people in the United States discard – on a weekly basis – 1 million extra tons of garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day, said Robert Lilienfeld, who co-authored a book, “Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We really Are.”

Rockwell said spring time is busiest for garbage collectors. Plastic bags filled with pine needles and yard waste sometimes numbers up to 50 on driveways.

A drive around Bijou neighborhood found those who were on Santa’s nice list. There was a box for a 27-inch Toshiba flat-screen television. Another driveway had two boxes for golf clubs. There was an empty container for a Disney Doll Playset and a steering wheel used for racing video games.

Other driveways had remnants of items that presents perhaps replaced, such as a broken skateboard and grayish vertical blinds. One large box, filled to the top with trash, once contained a new Husky garbage can.

Rockwell said there has been some treasures in past years, like a shirt still in its plastic wrapping. It was his right size, a double extra-large.

“I was quite happy,” he said.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com


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