From Iceland — Taking Out The Trash

Taking Out The Trash

Published April 13, 2011

Taking Out The Trash

The concept of a ‘trash day’ will soon take on a whole new meaning for the hitherto spoiled residents of Reykjavík. Thus far, taking out the trash in Reykjavík has simply entailed emptying the indoor trash bins into the outdoor bin. And as such, many people have no idea when their trash is even picked up.
But imagine this! Starting May 1, in what would seem like a completely ordinary chore to anybody in the United States, Reykjavík dwellers will face the laborious task of rolling their outdoor bin to at least fifteen metres of the curb for pick up. Yes, you read correctly. They don’t even have to go all the way to the curb.
Equipped with measuring tape, employees of the city have been busy these past few months visiting all 49.721 houses/apartments in Reykjavík to record the distance from their garbage bins to the street. If the distance exceeded fifteen metres, the city has mailed a letter to the household informing them that they must now take out their trash or, if they are seriously that lazy, pay an extra 4.800 ISK per bin per year.
Although the city is first and foremost thinking about saving money and not improving the quality of life for garbage collectors, the new regulation would definitely have made Þórólfur Valgeir Þorleifsson’s job quite a bit easier on the legs. In 2007, then Mayor of Reykjavík Vilhjálmur Þ. Vilhjálmsson honoured Þórólfur for his fifty years of service as a garbage collector in Reykjavík. At that time, it was reported that the average garbage collector walked 10.000 kilometres per year on the job. That’s tantamount to walking nearly an entire marathon every day (38 kilometres or 24 miles), five days a week. That means Þórólfur walked about 1.186 marathons and he probably deserves some praise for that fact alone.
In any case, it remains to be seen whether all hell breaks loose in May or whether Icelanders can peacefully roll their bins to the street like the 300 and some million people living in the United States manage to do. Already though it seems that those who must now add ‘trash day’ to their calendar are getting ready to erupt with jealousy toward their neighbours who can simply carry on with life unburdened by this chore.
Let’s just hope the aftermath of the city’s decision to stop picking up discarded Christmas trees last year isn’t any indication of what’s in store, because if it is, we can expect to see overflowing garbage bins all about the city. Although spoiled trash would be almost too poetic in this case. 

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