11 May 2010

Taking our rubbish on tour

The getting rid of rubbish is one of those things that one takes for granted.

One certainly doesn't expect to have to take one's rubbish for a considerable drive in the country every week.

Living close to nature, we try very hard to be environmentally responsible. We buy groceries that have minimal packaging and we compost everything that will break down (apparently garlic and onion skins don't break down so this is the only organic matter that we don't compost). We even have a small-sized rubbish bin in an attempt to limit our waste.

We have a private road up to our house that is about 1 kilometre long. The rubbish truck does not travel on private roads so we need to drive our rubbish to the corner where the private road meets the public road or drop our rubbish off ourselves at local skips that are provided by the Canelli Comune.

For our first five months here our rubbish system worked well.

We purchased strong plastic bags for our bin and at the end of each week, we would remove the bag, seal it properly, then drive it to the closest skip and drop it off.

That is, it was all going smoothly until a few weeks ago.

One morning we set off with our rubbish only to find that the skip had been removed.

Not easily put off, we drove our rubbish around Canelli until we found another skip and dropped it off.

This new system worked well for a week.

One morning we set off with our rubbish only to find that all the skips had been removed within the boundaries of Canelli.

We stood beside the now absent skip and looked at each other. We were clearly lost without a skip.

Not easily outdone and always practical, we put our rubbish back into our car and set off to find a skip outside the boundaries of Canelli.

After several hours, our rubbish was still in the back of the car and there was nought for us to do except drive it back home.

In the safety of our home we talked long and hard about the missing skip situation. We decided to ask Renzo what we should do with our rubbish.

But by the time Renzo came out to the valley again our pile of rubbish bags had grown. We were now too embarrassed to even ask Renzo!

So we did what all desperate people do in Italy. We went to the Canelli Commune. The two ladies in charge of 'rifuiti' were in place behind the sliding windows in one of the hundreds of offices in the maze that is the Canelli Comune.

Unfortunately, because I was so eager to dispose of our rubbish as soon as possible, I hadn't prepared for the conversation I would have with them. When I reached the window, I realised that I didn't know the Italian word for skip. I had planned to explain to her that the skip had disappeared and then ask here to tell us what to do with our rubbish.

Instead, I found myself telling her we had a problem with our rubbish and that there used to be a big (what?) that we put it into. In order to explain the concept of a skip, I gesticulated wildly and created an enormous shape with my arms. The ladies looked askance. They told us to turn right at the horse cart. Like I said, my Italian goes to pot when I'm under pressure...

We thanked them and left the office.

Afterwards I told Stu that the poor ladies probably thought we had a mountain of rubbish to get rid of. On high alert for potential outbreaks of the plague, they were probably redirecting us to the health department!

After this traumatic episode, we sought the shelter of our valley.

But every time we went outside the rustico, our beautiful green view seemed to be obstructed by our growing piles of rubbish.

(Please note this is a mild exaggeration. Suffice to say that we were personally very aware of our rubbish and our lack of apparent options)

Over the last few days we've been observing what other people do. It appears that some have wheelie bins while others use bags. From the overflowing wheelie bins that lined the streets, it seemed that rubbish collection day was Monday.

So on Monday we decided to drive to the end of our private road with our ageing rubbish in the trailer and drop it off at the corner where the private road meets the public road.

Having positioned our rubbish carefully in order to optimise its chances of being seen by any rubbish truck that happened to pass by, we spent a happy morning confident in the knowledge that we were no longer responsible for our rubbish.

Unfortunately, when we went to our Italian lesson later that day, our rubbish was lying in wait for us.

Worried that dogs, pigs or rats might rip the bags open and spread our secrets all over the town of Canelli, we stopped, picked up our rubbish and put it in the back of the car. Perhaps we'd got the day wrong? We'd try again tomorrow.

The following morning was cold. After dressing warmly, we walked out to the car eager to handle our first priority for the day. When we opened the doors to get in, our old rubbish rushed out at us. We could barely get near the car for the thickness of the stench that emanated from it.

One smell I remember particularly strongly is 3-week old garlic and onion skins.

Anyway, once we realised just how 'on the nose' our rubbish had become, we decided not to risk trying the street again. We needed an immediate outcome.

So that's how we came to be travelling around with our rubbish this morning. A full and comprehensive tour of the surrounding comunes was required before we finally found a skip near Asti and offloaded our burden.

As I write this, I still don't know what to do with our rubbish next week...


  1. This is a good saga - can't wait to find out how you behave next week - The Cyclist

  2. That is BIZARRE.

    But if you were really recycling you wouldn't have garlic and onion in your trash would you?!


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