14 Garbage Collectors Share the Things People Can Do to Make Their Jobs Easier

I love that this thread exists, because I am always wondering if I am doing everything I can when setting out my trash and recycling to make the pickup as easy as possible.

I wrap up any broken glass, I make sure things are separated and bagged, I do my best to ensure nothing blows away, but could I be doing more? Is there something I’m missing?

If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, now’s your chance to find out – because these 14 garbage collectors are dishing on how you can make their day a little bit better.

14. I hope we all realize this already.

Based on a warning that could have been a fine I got while living with my mother in law my mother in law lived with me, use bags.

Don’t pour cat litter directly in the bin.

13. Dang it. I knew someone was going to say that.


12. Don’t pretend you don’t know better.

Literally just don’t be an ass. You know not to put sand or concrete or tiles, anything like that, into your can. Like, if it’s something you yourself struggle to pick up/move don’t f*cking put it in your can for someone to lift that plus every bit of your trash from the past week.

I worked as a garbage man for a few years and I had to be put on workers comp for herniating 3 discs cause someone filled their can with sheetrock and tile and covered it with loose paper, like, if you’re going to do it let me see it so I can prep myself to pick it up. You putting too much weight into your can has the chance to change someone’s life drastically forever.

I do know I could have prevented it by just not taking the can but I had already lifted it into the air when I realized and it was to late. We didn’t have hydraulic lifts so I had to do it all by hand, 2-3k cans a day is rough when ya pick em all up.

11. Two important tips.

I’ve been out of the game for a few years, but I’ll name two that really pissed me off; if you can afford to not use dollar store garbage bags, please do so. They tear super easy to and make a godd*mn mess that I then needed to clean up. And don’t then fill the bloody things with heavy cat litter.

Second; broken glass goes in a taped up box, not the garbage bag. No one likes getting stabbed by random glass hidden in a garage bag.

10. Don’t be lazy.

Just about EVERY garbage company has instructions on what can be recycled in their jurisdiction. Different places have different rules.

It takes only a few minutes to seek this information out and save valuable human resources in fixing people’s lazy mistakes!

9. All of these are pretty easy.

Don’t park in no parking zones or right next to tight alleyway entrances/exits.

Please put dirty diapers in garbage bags instead of leaving them loose in the can.

We can’t always collect mattresses, long pipes, pallets, etc. Please understand that we don’t make those decisions. Some are made by our bosses, others by the laws of physics.


8. Why would you do that?

Not a garbage man but my cousin is. Don’t hide a fucking boulder at the bottom of your can. Throw it in your neighbors yard like the rest of us.

7. Be like this guy.

Mine asked me to move my cans from out from under the sweeping tree limb. I just did not even realize it was in the way. It was though. Moved my cans. Apologized. Thankful they take away my trash.

6. Consider their safety.

Not a garbageman but worked in a safety role for a waste collection company — Please use your bins correctly.

If general waste goes into a cardboard collections bin, for example, the whole lot of cardboard waste has to go to general disposal instead of recycling.

Worst case scenario, if you’re disposing of solvents, oil etc. instead of doing the right thing and taking them to the local dump (or arranging a specific pickup of hazardous goods), you could cause a fire.

And it should go without saying but.. please don’t dispose of explosive materials in general waste!?

ETA something “relevant to the post”
Most common ‘bastard client’ complaints I’ve heard are:

Domestic bins are too far away from the curb and have to be moved into position (wastes time, causes injury depending on how heavy bins are/how many they have to move on any given day)

Domestic bins are too full (Can end up throwing trash around the place) or bags are placed outside of the bin (if you have a good guy driver, he’ll pick them up too. He doesn’t have to.)

Commercial dumpsters have to be dragged uphill/across shitty ground/over drains to get to the pickup position (wastes time and causes injury again. Lot of injury incidents arise from drivers being the ones to have to drag the dumpsters out so they can pick them up)

Commercial dumpsters are overfilled. (as above, but to the max.)

5. You want to be cool, don’t you?

I worked for a parks department for a time, and I was the one to empty the garbage cans in all of the parks in the city. (it’s not very big.)

Putting things like;

whole vacuum cleaners
drug stashes
garbage bag full of house hold garbage
dead things
broken glass
bulk frozen things
unfinished dairy based liquids
aren’t cool.

4. Respect their job – and their space.

My father was a garbage man for a suburban area near Chicago. He always stressed safety over anything else. They regularly have safety checks and watch videos and seminars often. Especially for driving above all else. They are masters at defensive driving, but accidents (collisions) happen.

You should always be respectful of their space because they have your best interests in mind. So please understand these trucks weigh several tons in a compact area. If you cut them off in harsh weather you may have just gave them a mini heart attack.

A small shout out to all those Sanitation workers. I respect you. As a child I never understood those who demean what you do. I watched my father wake up at 3:30AM almost every day and not return home until after 6PM. The hundreds of pounds of unauthorized bulk he would toss to be nice. The injuries he got for doing it. The heat. The cold. The rain. The traffic. The holidays.

Anyways, you guys are amazing. Try not to let addiction overcome you. You’re heroes.

Love you dad

3. But everyone loves pizza!

Whole, unfolded pizza boxes. Get one of those wedged on top of the can, & nothing else is going in there or coming out easily. Pizza boxes are the absolute nemesis of garbage men/women everywhere.

At least fold then up a bit (compact them by hand or by standing on them & holding a bit) or — ideally — put them to the side or in their own separate garbage bag/bin.

Seriously — f*ck pizza boxes..

2. Trash bags exist. Use them.

My boyfriend has been a garbage man for over 10 years and the stuff he tells me is nuts. EVERYTHING IN YOUR CAN SHOULD BE IN A BAG! Dog shit, cat litter, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and ashes, etc.

STOP PUTTING CHEMICALS IN THE GARBAGE! Every year my boyfriend and his coworkers get gassed and end up with chemical burns because people are too lazy to look up how to properly dispose of chemicals. Stop! It’s so dangerous and only takes 5 minutes to look up the right way to get rid of it.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE RINSE OUT YOUR CAN ONCE IN A WHILE! Getting covered in hot garbage juice and maggots is disgusting and the smell is incredibly difficult to get rid of. You don’t have to scrub your can out, just hose out the inside at least once every summer.

The guys and gals will be super thankful and more inclined to run your can up to your garage for you and more likely to take stuff they would normally have to tag and leave. They are people too, treat them the way you would want to be treated. Their job sucks enough.

1. This is a good one!

If you have two cans.

Space them at least 3 ft apart.

I’m just so thrilled to have some action items!

If you’re a garbage collector and think of something else that belongs on this list, share it with us in the comments.