Lockport is about to become the latest community in Western New York to switch to a garbage tote system for trash collection, joining a list that includes Buffalo, Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda.
Although there are slight differences among the programs, some Lockport residents are expressing the same reticence as others before them. But as a TTB -- True Tote Believer -- I would like to provide some reassuring answers to frequently asked questions.
*I don't want a garbage tote. Why do I have to get one?
You only think you don't want a garbage tote. But then one garbage day on your street, you will look down the block and see a neat row of trash receptacles with closed lids and no trash overflowing on the ground and you will understand.
*How will my life change once I have a garbage tote?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people with garbage totes are better looking, live longer and have higher IQs than people who do not have them. Or at least they feel so good about their garbage that they believe all those things.
*Isn't this just another government money grab? Don't we pay enough in taxes without having to buy a stinkin' garbage tote?
Until I see some proof of a kickback scheme, I'm forced to believe that elected leaders embrace this idea because it saves money, benefits the public and improves the quality of life -- as implausible as that may sound.
*I know that the big selling point is that totes are supposed to keep rats and other pests away, but we don't have that problem in my neighborhood. So why are they forcing this on us?
I remember when I thought we didn't have that problem in my neighborhood. Then one night, I realized that the opossum convention was in town and my garbage can was the main assembly hall. The critters and rodents will find you and your trash. Take advantage of the totes before they do.
*I can get one of three sizes of garbage tote. Which one would you recommend?
Go for the Big Boy. You might not be able to imagine that you will be able to fill a 96-gallon tote every week but believe me, after a few weeks of owning one, you'll be throwing out stuff you still need just to have another excuse to spend more time with your tote.
*What is this business about throwing your toilet in your tote?
Garbage totes generally are so big and sturdy that you COULD throw your toilet in there, if you are getting rid of it. Don't make the mistake of thinking that once you have a garbage tote, you no longer need a toilet. (Some people had to learn this one the hard way.)
*What if I have too much garbage one week to fit in the tote?
First, hold off on throwing out the toilet. Then, if it's still too full, you have three options: 1) Take the garbage out of the tote and try to rearrange it so it fits. 2) Hang onto some of your less noisome trash and put it out a week later. 3) Introduce yourself to that next-door neighbor you have never met by asking if he has a little extra room in his tote. Talk about a great icebreaker.
*Can't I just jump on top of the trash to force it in there?
That does sound like fun, but no.
*I think this whole tote business is designed to homogenize society, to remove any hint of uniqueness from a community. I'm organizing a protest and will start by refusing to throw out any of my garbage until they give up on this cockamamie idea. What do you think?
I think you need a hobby.