The Origins of Garbage Men and Women
I’m guessing that not many of us have sat and pondered, “I wonder how the career of being a garbage man came about”. However, it’s an intriguing story and with now that National Garbage Man Appreciation Week 2017 is here, what better time to explore this topic?
Before there was ever an official “garbage man”, garbage was solely disposed of in a landfill. The first known landfill was in 3,000 B.C. and was basically a hole dug in the earth to dispose of your garbage and then covered over with dirt.
I’m sure you can imagine the stink of any such landfill near to where you live or work, so in 500 B.C., the first ever law stating that garbage must be dumped at least a mile from the city was put into effect in Athens, Greece. It wasn’t until the year 1350 that the first “official” garbage men were introduced after a staggering 25 million people died because of The Black Plague in a time span of only five years.
The first garbage men emerged in Britain, but the job carried high mortality rates as it was a dangerous and toxic job that led to serious illnesses. The first name for a garbage man was a “Raker” because these men raked trash into piles and disposed of it. Eventually, in the year 1407, a law was passed that required people to keep their garbage inside until the Rakers could collect it.
Fast forward to the year 1885 when America built the first incinerator on Governor’s Island, NY, however it would not be widely utilized due to the cost, smell and toxic smoke that was produced.
Finally, by the early 1900’s, more than 70% of large cities began to utilize organized trash collection. This was mostly carried out by garbage men with a horse and cart. The trash was disposed of in oceans, wetlands, rivers, or other areas that were not inhabited.
By 1914, the horse and cart was replaced by motorized carts and only 5 years later, the rear loader garbage truck entered the scene. The U.S. Supreme Court finally intervened in 1934 by forbidding the dumping of waste into the ocean.
Up until the 1990’s, drivers would need to exit their truck to collect trash at each stop, but as the years have progressed along with the technology, drivers can now collect trash without ever leaving their truck.
Why Are Garbage Men and Women Alike So Important to Society Today?
The Waste & Recycling Workers Week slogan has been re-branded to represent the heart and soul of what they do day in and day out- “Keeping You and the Environment Safe”. Garbage men do much more than collect your trash on a weekly basis. They are responsible for making a positive impact on our environment.
The U.S. alone disposes of 250 million TONS of waste every year, with less than 35% of this waste currently being recycled. Today’s garbage man has a big impact on the health and safety of our environment. For example, computers carry dangerous chemicals, and if not disposed of properly, can cause significant health problems and environmental issues.
Animals can also be adversely affected in large ways if trash is not disposed of in a proper manner. Most of our plastics if ingested by animals cause a double dose of chemicals to flow through their bodies.
Today’s garbage men and women are some of the hardest working people in our society and the importance of what they do is often taken for granted. These same men and women are some of the most willing to give of themselves to the communities they serve.
They are difference makers in kids’ lives. Many even take the time to stop their truck, let kids sit in the driver’s seat and show them how the truck operates. These children look forward to the weekly stop from their local garbage man every week.
Show Your Appreciation for Your Garbage Men and Women
Following are some simple ideas that could go a long way in making your garbage collector feel appreciated:
- Snacks: Who doesn’t like food- especially home baked treats like cookies or cakes! Taking the time to bake something for your garbage man would speak volumes to them of your appreciation. If you have children, get them in on the gesture!
- Thank You Notes: A thank you note can make their day and doesn’t cost you a thing. Take the time to make a creative card that shows you put time and effort into thanking them for a job well done.
- Greet Your Trash Collector with A Cold Water or Gatorade®: This is a HOT time of the year and these hard workers will always appreciate a cool beverage.
- Offer to Help: If you have a large pile of trash and other large items to dispose of, meet them at the curb at collection time and offer to help load the items into the back of the garbage truck.
- Consider A Gift Card: If within your means, to say thank you. Restaurant gift cards make great thank you gifts!
- Recycle: Don’t forget one last very important thing- recycling! We all need to do our part when it comes to recycling efforts to help make our world a safe and healthy environment for our families to grow up in.
Visit www.garbagemanday.org for a complete list of ways to thank your local trash collectors, including downloadable thank you cards, give a shout out on social media, a free kids (or adults) Garbage Man coloring book, and lots of other fun ideas.
Recycling in Charlotte and Surrounding Areas
A few simple ways you can help with recycling in Charlotte and surrounding areas include:
- Have Your Recycling Bin in A Convenient Place: Making sure your recycling containers are strategically placed makes utilizing them easier for family and friends.
- Recycle Empty Ink and Toner Cartridges: This is an easy, but often overlooked item to recycle.
- Reuse Your Disposable Cups: Get more than one use out of your morning coffee cup or afternoon pick me up beverage.
It only takes small efforts to accumulate and turn into big results. Start by thinking of small ways you can make a difference where you live when it comes to waste disposal and recycling!
The men and women who are responsible for trash pickup in the Charlotte and surrounding areas are hard workers and deserve to be recognized for what they do!