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I haven’t been on in a while, but now that y’all have dragged me back from my work, I’ve pulled another rainy-day issue from my list. How do you define “waste basket”, “trash can”, “trash bin”, “garbage can” and whatever other terms you have for the same thing? How are they different, and how are they alike?
The only distinction that I keep more or less consistently is that “garbage” is usually biological (orange peels, sour milk, moldy bread, too-old chicken etc) and “trash” usually isn’t. It may be that aside from that, all the differences in terms are merely regional. But I’m not convinced. How do you use these terms?
The last time I looked (the 1980s), the city code for Fort Wayne, Indiana distinguished between garbage and trash, and required regular removal of garbage from premises but in practice, they co-mingled waste streams.
A garbage can, to my mind, is 30 or 33 gallons, made of galvanized metal. If it’s similarly large and made of HDPE, it’s a trash can.
I never use the term trash bin. In UK stories, they talk of ash cans and ash bins. . We always carried ashes in a coal skuttle, spread them immediately on the stone driveway.
Bob Bridges said
I think I always had the notion (never having lived there) that the British “ash bin” was just a wastebasket, not literally reserved for ashes. I mean, probably it used to be for ashes, but not nowadays. Am I mistaken?
I had the same impression, else wouldn’t have introduced them into the discussion, but I can’t imagine a tall kitchen trash container being used for ashes. Add hot ashes to wastepaper, and you have a nice blaze. Add only ashes, and you’d need a forklift to empty it. Ashes weugh more than concrete!
I think that it was not until I left home for college that I (knowingly) encountered a distinction between trash and garbage. Trash can = garbage can. All the disposal receptacles in the house were waste baskets, but the organic material primarily went into the kitchen waste basket. After nearly half a century of making such distinctions, the old way sounds rather odd.
It occurs to me that through most of my childhood one of my chores was to “burn the papers” in the back yard, so there was some discrimination in which materials were disposed of where, but that orange peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, cans, and bottles occasionally went into the burn basket. Mostly illegal now, of course.
Tromboniator said: It occurs to me that through most of my childhood one of my chores was to “burn the papers” in the back yard, so there was some discrimination in which materials were disposed of where, but that orange peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, cans, and bottles occasionally went into the burn basket. Mostly illegal now, of course.
OK, so this might be a bit off-topic, but you bring up an interesting point about “waste management.” Here in AZ they’re pretty strict about burning trash, given our desert air particulate levels. Some years ago I set up a”burning barrel” like we used to use in WI where I was raised. Usual steel drum with holes drilled for air flow and trash burning. The smoke plume triggered a 911 call, and I was visited by the local fire department, educated about what was legal here, and given a warning (though they could have fined me). Turns out that the only thing legal to burn here in AZ is tumbleweeds … it’s a grandfathered law from back in the days where tumbleweeds were a nuisance and fire hazard to early settlers. Whoda’ thunk? So now I’m into composting and using the local waste transfer station.
The county makes a distinction between “recyclables” (plastics, paper, etc.), which is free to drop off, and “garbage” (food stuff, yard trimmings, styrofoam, etc) which costs me $1 per bag. That’s OK with me. Still, I sense that what is considered “garbage” has changed much over the years. Probably a good thing.
We had three streams of waste when growing up on the farm.
Kitchen waste went into a metal can with a hinged lid that flipped up with a foot pedal, capacity of about 2 gallons. The can was emptied everyday or so, because of flies, into a corner of the garden, where it got disked under in the fall. Haven’t seem one of these cans in stores since the early 1960s.
Waste baskets were emptied into a 55-gallon drum, in a far corner of the barnyard. We covered the top of the barrel with hardware cloth and set it ablaze on a still day, watching carefully that floating sparks didn’t set the roof of any building on fire. (Volunteer fire departments save you on fire insurance premiums, but they rarely saved more than foundations.) The barrels filled with ashes, so we had to keep adding ventilation in a 2nd Amendment manner. Rain plus ashes gives you lye. The bottom chime would rust away, so we got to kick over the burn barrel (or knock it over with a tractor) and use the now-bottomless barrel a 2nd time,
Any non-rotting, non-burnable waste , nominally tin cans, but jars, broken crockery, retired burn barrels, bed springs, and broken implement parts, etc. went into an empty corn crib. After the last snow, while the ground would still be too cold and wet for planting, we’d clean up the farm, hauling a trailer to the dump. Townies’ combustibles and compostables as well as junk, were deposited weekly, so we not only picked up other people’s good “junque” but made a point of exercising our 2nd Amendment on the rats that thrived there. Let me tell you, Love Canal later proved landfills were tragically dangerous, but we already knew that they were no fun.