City Sues Man For Not Having Any Trash

You would think city would be giving a guy a special bonus for not producing any trash, but San Carlos, CA is suing 53-year-old Eddie House for canceling his garbage service. House says he recycles most about everything by driving to the recycling center himself, gives food scraps to his dog, sells larger items or gives them away on craigslist, and burns his backyard clippings. Reports The Examiner: “House says he stopped his service with Allied Waste about a year ago after realizing that his garbage cans were nearly always empty. “It’s just me and my dog, so I don’t have a whole lot of garbage to begin with and I recycle everything,” he said.” Town ordinance requires that everyone contract with Allied Waste for at least once a week pickup. The city says they were alerted to the situation after neighbors complained he was burning garbage (a not-so-very green move). House says he was only burning firewood. “I don’t understand a city ordinance that requires you to fill up a can. That’s downright foolishness,” said Mr. House.

City sues man for canceling trash service [The Examiner] (Thanks to Nathan!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. monkey33 says:

    It wasn’t specified in the article, but I know that my trash service is actually part of my city water bill, and a lot of cities have the sewage and trash pickup under one bill. So unless he isn’t flushing and burning his sewage, that might be part of the problem.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like they’ve outsourced the trash pick-up to a private company.

  3. Brine says:

    My trash service has its own department and is billed separately from everything else.

  4. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    So get Allied Waste to pick up the recycling. He doesn’t have to drive someplace to take care of the recycling and they don’t have to complain about him breaking an ordinance.

    Seriously though, I don’t understand this. I would get an ordinance about not letting trash pile up around your residence but if he isn’t generating any trash (he could write a book) who cares that he isn’t giving Allied Waste his money?

  5. Whitey Fisk says:

    I think this is an odd ordinance, but I’m also skeptical about this man’s claims to having no trash. He should be able to negotiate for more infrequent pick-ups with the waste management company.

  6. flairness says:

    I have a feeling there’s more to his burning ‘yard clippings’ than meets the eye. I know that it’s possible to live a relatively green life. Hippies exist, I admit it. However, I have a hard time believing that he has ZERO waste. And since he says does not, I can only assume that he is burning it. And if he’s not burning it, he’s dumping it in someone else’s bin, which is also a huge no-no.

    I’m not saying he should have been fined, or even needs a once a week pickup. But what about semi-monthly? Or even the option to show receipts for trash drop-off at a drop-off site?

    Bottom line, I don’t believe his excuse.

  7. coan_net says:

    I hope consumerist stays on top of this story – I can see the city & Allied Waste quickly changing their tune on this as it gains internet momentum to how stupid the town & Allied Waste is for requiring someone to produce trash.

  8. shan6 says:

    Sort of like the guy who got sued because he wasn’t paying fuel taxes. He was using vegetable oil (or something like that) instead of getting gas from a gas station. So the city didn’t like that too much.

  9. Xerloq says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: He doesn’t generate zero garbage – he either grinds it up and burns it or flushes it down the disposer.

    Sounds like he’s not properly disposing of what little waste he generates.

  10. armour says:

    well I know in our house with the recycling, Composting we have 3 adults adn 3 kids and only produce on green garbage bag of waste per month. it not that hard really it just so many have become use to disposable socity.

    The only time we have larger amount of trash is when purchusing larger electronic items as the type of styrofoam is not picked up for reycling in out city.

  11. econobiker says:

    Ah, the smell of trash burning- still found in some of the rural areas of TN at dusk…

  12. madanthony says:

    In a way, I can kind of sympathize with the city – besides the fact that burning trash is bad in so many ways (pollution, fire risk, ect), requiring people to have trash pickup reduces the incentive for people to build up trash or to illegally dump.

  13. EBounding says:

    Recycling is a crock. It takes more resources to recycle most things than to just produce a new product using raw materials. But regardless, this guy should be able to do what he wants as long as he’s not affecting his neighbors.

    It sounds like the ordinance was meant to prevent people from piling up garbage since most people produce more trash than this guy does (supposedly).

  14. @Whitey Fisk: We know a couple people with no trash. They recycle EVERYTHING recyclable, compost all organics. They don’t buy anything that isn’t either recyclable or organic. For large items, they have garage sales, give to goodwill, reuse, sell on Craig’s List, etc.

    And on the rare occasions they do have something that HAS to be thrown out, they take it to work and toss it, or put it in a neighbor’s can.

  15. MoCo says:

    With a bit of thought and care, it’s not really that difficult to create almost no trash. My family puts everything in the recycle bins that is permitted to be recycled. The few non-recyclables are crushed and then go into the trash can, which I take to the landfill about once every two months. We give any away used stuff that is in good condition by putting it on or giving it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

  16. headon says:

    Recycling is BS just throw all the garbage in one recepticle and let the garbage man hoist it in the truck. You have all have boought into the global warming lie. Next you’ll all start believing in intelligent design.

  17. snoop-blog says:

    i’d be willing to bet that he’s burning trash. i’m not calling him a flat out liar, just that i’m a betting man and i’m placing my chips on trash burning.

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    @armour: I usually wind up saving it (Styrofoam) and giving it to the nearby Shipping Store (with the foam peanuts) to reuse. Call ahead, as not many places will take the block foam (only the peanuts).

  19. HOP says:

    california…..that should explain it……….

  20. cde says:

    Seriously, how much trash do you people expect one person to produce in a week? I produce maybe, MAYBE one shopping bag full of trash a week, since I mostly eat out.

  21. gp5548 says:

    Good for Eddie House I am 58, live in Columbus Ohio and recycle 99% of our (2 person) waste, we recycle religiously, compost organic matter, and have one very small plastic grocery bag of non-recyclable, non-compostable, non-reusable waste a month, I put that tiny bag in the big 150gal trash can once a month for pickup. San Carlos must suck.

  22. HRHKingFriday says:

    So what’s worse, having a bonfire for your tree trimmings, or putting them on a truck that gets 5 miles a gallon, that goes to god knows where to essentially burn or bury them in landfill?

    @cde: You’d be surprised at how wasteful a family of four can be. Some of my neighbors growing up used to take out at least two or three bags a day. Something tells me it had to do with tv dinners and other packaged crap they’d get from walmart every week.

  23. Adam Rock says:

    San Luis Obispo, CA requires paid garbage service. I rented a house with three friends and we found ways of disposing our trash (friends’ houses dumpsters) other than trash cans. Our landlord called us up and told us that the house owner had a lien placed upon the house because we had not paid the past year of garbage service (that we had not used).

    We ended up having to pay for the past year of garbage even though we didn’t use it at all. What a load of crap.

  24. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    Er…. WTF are you talking about??

    Anyhow, yes it is possible to cut down to almost nothing, but no its not possible in todays society to have absolutely no waste. There are still somethings that need to be thrown away or that cant be recycled.

    At my house we have changed our ways. Its a 3 adult house. We aren’t around much but when we are, we do have things for the trash. But we started to recycle now anything that can be recycled. Most styrophome (spelling?) can be recycled now. So our blue recycle can is filled up each week. The trash is about every other week. There are still some things that cant be recycled, or are too dirty to be recycled. Like some take out food containers. I’m not going to sit there and wash it wasting water, I’ll just toss it out. Or tissues. Recently I was sick and went through 3 boxes of tissues. the boxes were recycled, the tissues were trashed.

    If you think about it though you can create an extremely small amount. If you go to eat fast food, eat it there. You save gas from not waiting in the drive-thru and all the trash stays with them. Buy things in bulk so you have less packaging, like meats that come in bags instead of styrophome. Recycle anything that has a recycle symbol on it. Compost old food. Did that once, the next season we grew tomatoes with it, they were 3x the size of what they normally grow at. Heck you can make some extra cash that way by selling the produce you grow at a farmers market. Use it to pay for your trash pickup.

  25. MercuryPDX says:

    @EBounding: @headon: All fun and games, until you get a fine for NOT recycling.

    If they find more than 10% of your curbside trash contains recyclable materials, expect to pay.

  26. Adam Rock says:

    That is, the city placed the lien upon the house.

  27. BugMeNot2 says:

    I’d almost wager part of the problem the city has is the contract they have with Allied Waste. Where I live, I pay $27 every three months for trash pickup. People in neighboring towns (including the town where the trash service is based) pay $27 per month. The difference is that our town has a contract with the service saying that the municipality will use them exclusively and that 75% (or something like that) of the town’s citizens will use it. The other towns do not have that agreement.

    This town may have a similar agreement, and this guy rocking the boat opens up for more problems down the road.

  28. SkyeBlue says:

    Can someone be held to a contract that they officially have not signed themselves?

  29. Buran says:

    @EBounding: You need to read the National Geographic article from a month or two on this. Looks like you need to do some research.

    As for this guy, he’s not being sued for not having any trash, he’s being sued for breaking town law. He needs to work to get the pointless law changed and THEN cancel the contract. If you live in a place, you have to obey its laws.

  30. SarcasticDwarf says:

    To comment on the issue of trash/recycling: Pretty much every town in Northeastern Wisconsin encourages recycling yet greatly discourages it by either providing or allowing only tiny recycling containers. My parents live in a new development where you are allowed a recyclables container measuring about 2×2.5×1…which is picked up every OTHER week. At the same time the trash can is the smallest “large” size available and is also only picked up every two weeks. The result is that many people have BOTH more recyclables AND trash than can fit in their cans.

  31. changeyez says:

    I live in San Carlos. I haven’t heard about this until this story on Consumerist. The city of San Carlos (“City of Good Living”) contracts out the garbage service to Allied Waste of San Mateo County. Sounds to me like San Carlos is upset because they are losing their cut of the money Eddie House would be paying to Allied Waste if he utilized their services.

  32. AD8BC says:

    Remember the good old days when the scrap metal and paper facilities would actually pay you to bring in your cans and papers?

    When I was a kid we saved aluminum cans and would take them to this recycling place that would pay us by the pound. Same with the paper — they weighed the car before unloading the paper and then you unloaded the paper and then they weighed the car again and paid you for the weight of the papers… I delivered a weekly “PennySaver” type paper when I was a kid and I had so many extra papers it was great…

    Nowadays, the county or city forces YOU to pay THEM or some other collection company to take your recyclables which THEY sell for scrap.

    Regarding this fellow, I highly doubt he is 100% trash free. But recycling and composting is always a good thing.


    When I lived in Michigan up until last year our city licensed multiple companies to come in and pick up trash and the homeowner paid them directly. I just happened to have had Allied Waste up there. Now that I am in Texas, my city contracts Allied Waste to pick up the trash in the whole town and we are billed on our water bills, like some of y’all mentioned above. And I pay so little down here to have my trash picked up as opposed to the direct bill arrangement we had in Michigan.

  33. swalve says:

    When you break laws, you have to expect the consequences.

    Perhaps he will use this opportunity to get the law struck down via the courts.

  34. trujunglist says:

    A bit off topic maybe, but I thought that I’d get it off my chest..

    It really, REALLY gets to me when people can’t take 1 minute out of their overall time to establish a recycling routine. I’m not talking about composting all of your organic waste or reducing to 0% trash, I’m talking about recycling bottles, cans, papers, and generally known to be recycled items. So many people I’ve met who aren’t from the Western states (CA, AZ, WA, OR) are incredibly uninspired to recycle for some unknown reason. I realize that many of the cities don’t have a recycling program. When I lived in Chicago, one apt building I lived in was generally surprised when I inquired about recycling. I was surprised that they didn’t have anything, and that everyone in this gigantic apt building was clearly throwing away their recyclable stuff. I looked online and the building was exempt because it was an older building, so I suggested that they put some large plastic bins in the basement and get the city to pick them up, because it was suggested that the city would be willing to do it. But, no, of course that couldn’t happen.
    When I lived in GA, there was no resemblance of the desire to recycle AT ALL. No houses had it, my ex had no clue what could be recycled and what couldn’t (and still didn’t after a year of trying to condition her into it) and neither did anyone else, and the amount of waste generated was ridiculous.
    People should really take some time out to figure this stuff out. It’s not hard to set up an extra bin for your recyclables. America’s recycling rate is pathetically low when we should be the ones leading the charge.

  35. trujunglist says:


    Good article, saw that one myself and was ashamed at our piss poor performance, as I mentioned above.

  36. shadow735 says:

    while I give him kudos for recycling pretty much everything but he isnt recycling his yard clippings.

  37. headon says:

    @SOCALROB: I guess the screen name indicates your from California. I guess that’s why you didn’t understand my post. Your prolly one of those hippies. Just to make it clear for you what I am talking about. Recycling is BS. Got it now!

  38. acasto says:

    I don’t see how there can be a law requiring a person to utilize a certain private business, that’s just insane. I can see the town negotiating for the services, but not requiring all the residents to. Maybe I should look into getting a law passed that requires every new house built to utilize our custom cabinetry. This sounds like some shady small town good-ol’-boy local government funny business going on, even if technically legal. I always find it funny that while everybody loves to pick on Bush for everything, people just accept it as part of life that you have to ask the local government for permission to do pretty much anything. Not to mention all the crap they can pull with (re)zoning, changing ordinances, imminent domain, etc… With the feds, just keep the IRS happy and your in pretty good shape.

  39. urban_ninjya says:

    I find it cheaper to just sneak in my trash into the neighbor’s can.

  40. ClayS says:


    I’m not from California, and very far from being a hippie. I’m a Republican and I recycle fastidiously. Recycling lowers the costs of producing paper products, metals, glass, etc. Your town likely brings in revenue by selling recyclable waste.

    In this case, the town has a law requiring all residents to contract for at least one garbage pickup per week. Let them sue this stupid old man who is burning his trash.

  41. Gorky says:

    I live in Harrisburg, PA and we have the same thing. We are FORCED to use the trash service that the city contracts with and have no say in the contract. I admit I do generate trash but it should be my say who I pay to remove it or I should be able to drive it to a landfil on my own. This one of the things I hate the most is the fact Im REQUIRED to have trash service and I am FORCED to use the company that the city says I have to. I cant call another service and get a lower rate.

  42. clank-o-tron says:

    @Buran: I’ll counter that by suggesting you watch Penn & Teller’s BullShit episode on Recycling. Reusing items yourself is very good, but sending items far away to be hand-sorted and then sent somewhere else very far away is incredibly wasteful.

    I’m not saying recycling is totally baseless, but it’s far from the clear-cut issue it’s often made to be.

  43. cheviot says:

    Here’s the thing. Sure there’s a law requiring every home to have trash service… but breaking that law is between the homeowner and the city, not between the homeowner and the trash service.

  44. Islandkiwi says:

    This guy is generating trash…it may be a tiny amount, but you can guarantee he is, and is dumping it in a neighbors trash can…effectively making his neighbors pick up the tab for his trash.

    Sorry Bub, but you’re a part of society.

  45. rlee says:

    Sorry, Islandwiki, I’m with Gorky (and Ed). I don’t have trash service, and fortunately my county doesn’t have a problem with that. There’s a facility not too far away where you can deposit recyclables, and once a year or so I haul the rest to the “waste transfer station” for a small fee. All perfectly legal and above-board, and heckuva lot cheaper than paying $20 a month for weekly pickup I don’t need.

  46. StevieD says:

    The sanitation laws assume some waste, therefore there must be waste pickup.

    He can “claim” zero waste, but I, like others, suspect there is a lot of trash and waste products being burned OR the rooms of his house are holding the waste.

  47. ivealwaysgotmail10 says:

    @Buran: WOW really useful comment… can you not hear my sarcasm? if town law says he has to be under contract with a trash company and he has no trash and does not need, he is being sued because he does not need trash service which is because he has no TRASH! “if you live in a place, you have to obey its laws” wow, what an idiotic comment.

  48. ivealwaysgotmail10 says:

    A town having a law forcing you to pay a private company to provide a service hat not all may need is ridiculous, And the town going after someone for not using such a service is even crazier, HE COULD drive his “tiny” bit of waste to a dump who knows, your assuming he is burning it ? or throwing it in his neighbors trash? wow..

  49. alhypo says:

    Renew your service and fill your garbage can with dirt each week.

  50. Id_LQQK says:

    @Adam Rock: Isn’t there a law that says someone cannot charge you for a service you did not request or more importantly not use?
    Also, it is possible, with minimal effort, to reduce ones trash to the level the article talks about. All person has to do is find where their local recycling center is and what they take. Also true, (as another mentioned) most waste pickup companies will pick up recycling as well.
    I think the most shady part of the article is that the city ‘requires’ the residents to use a specific trash pickup service. Is there no competition in this market to give the residents a choice or save them some money.
    Most commenters hit on the root cause of the issue. Poor wording or updating of the city ordinance to get with the times and intent of the ordinance. Mr. House is meeting the intent of the ordinace by keeping his property clean.

  51. lockdog says:

    When there’s not something unusual going on, such as remdodeling or a major cleaning, or visits from relatives my wife, two year old and I can pretty much get by on less than a plastic grocery bag of garbage a week. We recycle or compost almost everything. Some weeks its easier to take the trash with me to the dumpster at work than to roll the giant trash barrel down to the street for one or two measley bags. I could easily see how an old guy who doesn’t by much, and has a dog would have (nearly) no trash. So to all the posters saying there’s no way he could have no trash, how little trash would he need to have to justify paying for trash service?

  52. Buran says:

    @clank-o-tron: I’m going to trust an internationally-renowned publication over a pair of people whose goal in life is to make people laugh. Sorry.

  53. Buran says:

    @ivealwaysgotmail10: Uh, it’s not idiotic at all. The headline says he’s being sued for not having any trash. That’s not true. How is it idiotic to point out what’s really going on here and that we’re dealing with yet another entitlement @*$@%*!! who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him?

    Wow, what an idiotic comment.

    Yours, I mean.

  54. headon says:

    @CLAYS: Sorry to hear about that republican thing.

  55. forgottenpassword says:

    I wonder what happens when someone is struggling to pay ANY bills & then suddenly gets sued by the trash company for not subscribing to their business?

    IMO you shouldnt have to pay for ANY utilities if you dont want to. That includes water, electricity, natural gas etc etc.. IF you can do without reasonably. I understand that maint. for utilities have to be paid for, but they should be paid for by people who actually USE them…. not people who dont.

    I think the town is just pissed off at the guy, thinks he’s living like a bum in his house & wants to make an example of him & is probably in cahoots with the trash company to MAKE him pay & make him an example so that everyone else stays in line & pays pays pays!

  56. yesteryear says:

    lots of cities have contracts with waste management firms, thats why we don’t get to choose who picks up our garbage. i agree with a previous commenter that these sorts of ordinances (as long as the city negotiates for a reasonably low rate) help keep some order and cleanliness in a city.

    yes, perhaps all of us here would be responsible with our waste, but that doesnt mean everyone else will be. do you want to live next door to someone who buries their garbage, or even worse, just throws it in their back yard?

    and as far as i know, you don’t have to have electricity or gas in your home. water, maybe, as it’s a public health issue. but if your utilities are shut off i don’t think the utility company wastes time calling you to ask you to re-establish your account.

  57. forgottenpassword says:

    ANd what I dont get is whos business is it ANYWAY what a guy dows with his garbage as long as:

    1. He isnt burning it & creating a hazard/breaking burn laws

    2. isnt dumping it on the street or in somone else’s dumpster without permission.

    3. isnt letting it pile up in his home.

    Hell!, maybe his employer lets him throw trash away in their dumpster? I dont see this as some horribly illegal thing as long as their is room. My employer doesnt care if I do this because they always have a 2nd dumpster that is NEVER full. I also know of people who share a single trash pickup between them to save money. One neighbor pays the official bill, the other neighbor puts his trash in with him & then pays half the bill. Why should anyone have to pay for a 4-5 trash pickup when they only throw out maybe 1-2 bags a week?! I am sure the trash company would be pissed because they dont have an extra customer to bill, but fuck em!

    Its like a internet subscriber allowing his neighbor to share his wifi connection & then also sharing the bill.

    Heck, I am wastefull as hell, but I only produce one full trashbag of garbage every two weeks.

  58. HalOfBorg says:

    Assuming that his story is %100 true – then why did he even bother?

    Just don’t put anything out!

    I have never once in my life heard a garbage man say “DAMNIT! He’s got nothing AGAIN!”

  59. synergy says:

    Although I agree that he shouldn’t be forced to use a particular company, I can understand why there would be a law that requires the use of one. It assumes that we all create trash/garbage sooner or later. Waste management is one of the things that’s so unappreciated in this country and yet keeps us all so healthy. I would think it’s a health issue. I’m not agreeing with the city, just saying it’s a reasonable law. Think of all the people who wouldn’t deal with trash at all if they weren’t required to do so. Plenty enough to screw the rest of us.

  60. cde says:

    @HalOfBorg: So he wouldnt have to pay 200+ a year on something he didn’t use.

  61. Hambriq says:

    I don’t really think the ‘forced contracting’ is all that bad of a concept. I have horror stories of neighbors stealing water, electricity, cable, and wi-fi. I can only imagine what it would be like if paying your trash bill was optional.

    Sure, there may be a few people responsible with their waste management like Mr. House (and that’s giving him the benefit of the doubt). But I imagine there being far more people who would forgo paying their trash bill to save a few bucks, and then get rid of their trash using methods that are either illegal, unattractive, environmentally irresponsible, or most likely a combination of the three.

  62. Hambriq says:


    Even if I generated absolutely no trash, I would be content to pay $200+ a year just to ensure that the scenario I mentioned in my previous post doesn’t play out.

  63. forgottenpassword says:

    I just read in a comment (from that article) that you can be ticketed/fined for not putting out enough recycleables in your bin. DOesnt this sound insane? I hate laws such as these that just paint everyone with the same assuming brush (that everyone automatically produces a certain amount of trash/recycleables & if not… then they should be punished in some way). Its local government out of control & asinine. I hate nanny-state legislation.

  64. Islandkiwi says:


    See, when I mention society, what I mean is our society. Obviously yours does it differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. My point is there’s rules in society and you play by them.

    If I’m his neighbor and he’s putting trash in my can, it would bother me. I see people dumping their trash in apartment complex containers all the time, which is a concern…that complex has to pay to have that hauled away.

    In the end, it’s not the story of one person here.

  65. @ad8bc: “Remember the good old days when the scrap metal and paper facilities would actually pay you to bring in your cans and papers?”

    Still do where I am. We pay (fairly minimally) to have it picked up curbside. It’s free to drop it at various city recycling bins in centralized locations. Or if you take it to the industrial part of town and deliver it to recyclers, they pay you by the pound.

    Generally we just set it out for our scavenger, a nice Latino immigrant who picks up recyclables, reuseables, and resellables, and deals with them all. He makes money off aggregating recyclables from many homes and selling them all at once — it’s hardly worth driving down there unless you gather a bunch together.

    Plus I like helping someone hardworking make it here.

  66. JiminyChristmas says:

    @EBounding: For beginners, you’re simply wrong. Recycling of any given material is contingent on there being private market demand for said material. If recycling is such a money loser why do scrap yards pay 55 cents/lb for aluminum cans? Likewise, how has the paper recycling plant down the road from me stayed in business for 25 years? They can’t have been losing money this whole time.

    Secondly, creating new products from recyclables is only half the equation. Every ton and cubic yard of waste that gets recycled is one that doesn’t go into a landfill or up an incinerator smokestack. The municipality where I live diverts over 40% of household waste through recycling programs. I.e.: If not for recycling we would have to find nearly twice as much space for garbage dumps.

  67. forgottenpassword says:

    @Hambriq: And what if you couldnt afford to throw money away on something you didnt need? (not referring to the eddie House’s particular situation, but just poor people in general).

    I have been reading the comments in the article where eddie house (the guy in the article) has been responding (assuming that it is indeed him, which it sounds like it is) & it seems that he had a longtime problem with the neighboring apartment complex possibly concerning inadequate or damaged dumpsters & a resulting rat problem. Could be this is just payback for these complaints. Also… he says that he had the neighbors call the cops/fire dept. on him for burning something in his backyard which he says is just firewood. The police/fire dept. have responded only to find he was burning wood in his woodstove & then searched inside his home on numerous occassions (probably to make sure he wasnt hoarding trash & living like a bum) & didnt find anything. Its seems that the apartment complex’s residents are complaining about the smell of him using his woodstove to burn firewood (or claiming he is burning trash in it). I have smelled woodstove smoke & it can be a bit of an obtrusive & strong odor at times.

    Looks like the trash company & the city is busting this guys balls on purpose for either complaining about the apartment building next door or because he doesnt want trash service OR both (or because the neighbors dont like to smell his woodstove’s smoke).

    Here are some interesting items I found on san fran’s local news craigslist regarding this article….



    I would like to know what exact problems mr house has been having with the neighboring apartment complex…. just so I dont have to speculate.

  68. drjayphd says:

    @jiminychristmas: @Buran: @clank-o-tron: aaaaaaaaaand @EBounding:

    I was going to bring up that episode of Bullshit!, so a bit of clarification:

    * At least on the show, Penn and Teller pretty much seem to work more as professional skeptics. So while they’ll give credit where due, they’re coming at it from a certain perspective already. (Even if they have to resort to calling people assholes instead of frauds to not get sued.)

    * They did acknowledge that aluminum recycling was worthwhile. No reason to believe other materials won’t also be cheaper and less damaging to get recycled in the future, and they didn’t dispute that point either (they just said that for most materials, between gas, etc., it wasn’t economically or environmentally affordable right yet).

  69. veronykah says:

    @lockdog: Exactly what I was going to say. I live alone and pay $20 a month for trash. I think its ridiculous. I recycle most things and produce MAYBE a bag of trash a week. Why I pay the same amount as people who fill their HUGE bins each week annoys me.
    I could get by with trash pickup once a month, but am required by the city to pay for a service that half the month I do not even use.

  70. Hambriq says:


    And what if you couldnt afford to throw money away on something you didnt need? (not referring to the eddie House’s particular situation, but just poor people in general)

    That’s exactly what I’m worried about: people interested in saving a few bucks a year by ditching their garbage collection service. Then, rather than cutting down on their production of waste, they just get rid of their waste in other unsightly and illegal ways.

    Like I said, I have enough horror stories about neighbors trying to pinch pennies by sponging off other people’s utilities that I have little to no reason that it would be any different with garbage.

  71. IrisMR says:

    I don’t recycle anything because I think it’s a worldwide scam, but if that guy does, more power to him damn it. He has the right to have no garbage…

    But I’m a bit worried about what the neighbors say. It’s easy to just reply “nuuuh, I’m burning wood!” and then chunk a few bits of trash in there.

  72. Celeste says:

    @Hambriq: there’s no requirement that you have a trash pick-up contract in my town. There are at least two companies serving our neighborhood that you can hire, and the city landfill allows you to take your trash there and drop off for free.

    So I can imagine exactly what it would be like to have a neighborhood where people aren’t required to contract for a service they don’t need. It’s clean and lovely and well maintained. Some of us get trash pickup because we’re too lazy to go to the dump. Some of us load up the back of our truck on the weekends and go to the dump. None of us have piles of trash building up in our homes or back yards.

  73. FLConsumer says:

    @forgottenpassword: The comment on “not enough recyclables” was apparently from Baton Rouge, LA, not the California city in question, but I’d be curious how they would judge that. I poked around their website but couldn’t find anything on it.

    Fortunately, all of my homes are condos, so I don’t have to deal with the trash issue, but it would worry me if the city mandated that any particular minimum amount of recyclables had to be put out each week — what would happen to those of us who are away for months at a time?

  74. RandomHookup says:

    He should figure out which is cheaper — paying the waste company or paying a fine. If it’s the law and there is no legal princple to give him leeway and no waivers in the statute, sounds like he doesn’t have much he can do until he convinces them to change the law.

  75. Hambriq says:


    Fair enough. Maybe I’ve just had my experience soured by a few bad apples.

  76. PhilK says:

    As far as my county goes the trash service is part of my assessment with the house. I just pay it through my housing taxes yearly.

    It seems odd to me that usage of a private company gets enforced by the local government…especially since the local waste company is a bunch of idiots (leave bags, bags fall out of the trucks onto the roads, throw any recycling not in bins into trash section of truck). But hey, I’ve only got one choice for cable (Comcast), phone (AT&T), and electricity (FPL) so why not, right?

  77. WV.Hillbilly says:

    Why don’t they pay you for your old cans and paper anymore?
    Because there’s no market for the stuff. If bums won’t pick it up, how much demand can there be?

    @jiminychristmas: How does the plant down the road from you stay in business?

    Recycling IS a scam. It doesn’t do anything at all, other than waste time money and space. And make a bunch of do gooders feel better about themselves.

    I throw everything in the trash compactor. Glass, paper, plastic, cans, etc.
    I don’t give a shit. My time is worth more than that.

  78. smitty1123 says:

    @flairness: Nowhere in the article does it say he was burning yard waste.

  79. smitty1123 says:

    @flairness: Furthermore, the article doesn’t say he never has waste. He says he mulches his sold waste in a wood chipper and runs his food waste through his garbage disposal.

  80. Jimbo64 says:

    I work with a guy who is a little nutty about recycling and saving money. He recycles everything he can, composts as much as he can.

    He still has a little bit of garbage leftover that he throws out at the gas station or at work.

    I find it hard to believe the guy is story is down to zero waste. Me thinks someone is burning garbage.

  81. angryrider says:

    Man, why do city governments outsource sanitation services to private companies? In NY, there’s a government agency that does it. And they do a pretty good job, and our tax dollars pay for it.
    This guy, I’d say wow. He reduces his waste to the point that it’s trivial for the trashman to actually collect it.

  82. HappyCustomer says:

    Yeah, well just be sure there is nothing in there that identifies you. I have actually ripped open bags left in my container and returned them to the rightful owners.

  83. glynnjamin says:

    First, I’m shocked that someone on this board thinks people in AZ recycle.

    Secondly, the argument that it is unfair that he is getting sued because he doesn’t create trash is unfounded. He is being sued because he broke his legally obliged contract with Allied Waste. NO ONE is saying that he has to produce trash, but he still has to pay into the pot that takes care of everyone else’s trash. Trash pickup is a public good. While I would RATHER NOT pay for the war in Iraq, I still pay for it with my tax dollars. The subject of this story has a contract with the city to pick up his trash who outsources it to Allied. The city is able to obtain the rate for pickup because they negotiated it under the assumption of 100% customer retention. If I went out to get a company to provide military protection for me, it would cost substantially more than the percentage of taxes that I pay. If everyone who was opposed to the war in Iraq was somehow able to withdraw our money to support it, the military would begin to lack funding. Then, if China decided to invade, they may have trouble taking over the wealthy sections of town (because those people can afford private military) but would experience little resistance through the middle and lower class areas. The same issue holds true here with the trash. If I was not forced into a contract with a waste management provider, I would not have one. I am poor and it is an expense I would rather not incur. As a result, I would have to find somewhere in my condo to store my trash (albeit one small grocery bag a week) until I could find time to drive it to the dump. This would cause undue burden upon my neighbors who would have to deal with the smell and possible insect/rodent infestation. Even if I were responsible about the situation and took trash weekly to the landfill, I’m not sure that my cost of travel, time, gas, and landfill charge would be less than what I pay for the service through the city-negotiated contract.

    The point is, as a whole, the city has the collective buying power to negotiate a better rate than individuals. If Allied only picked up 10 houses in each subdivision the cost would be dramatically higher than having them get every house in a subdivision.

    Of course, this thinking doesn’t apply if you live in farm/rural communities but San Carlos is a suburb like most of Phoenix so I feel like my thinking is in line here.

    Finally, I’m sorry that the city can’t work out some tax credits for people who create little waste in order to off-set the cost of the trash pickup. It would seem to me that they are able to sell the materials that he is recycling for profit and that profit should be passed on to him if he is, in fact, able to produce Zero Waste. Although, how you would prove you create Zero Waste is another subject all together.

  84. Celeste says:

    @Hambriq: I think the big reason it works in our neighborhood is because drop-off at the landfill is free. Our local taxes cover it. I’ve lived in counties where you had to pay additional to use the landfill, and in those areas, yeah, there were problems with shifty types who would try to dump their garbage at someone else’s place or in a business’s dumpster without the owner’s permission. So I sympathize with the frustration over bad apples. It’s just my current location figured out a way to avoid that. :)

  85. smoothtom says:

    @Whitey Fisk: My parents did this for a time. They recycled everything they could by driving it to the recycling center, burned a lot of paper waste (not the best thing, but they live out in the country, and it was next to impossible to find somebody who would take paper), composted organic waste, and fed meat scraps to the many cats that roamed outside (thus increasing the cat problem). They only had a few items that could not be disposed of in the above manner–maybe a grocery bag full every couple months. When that happened, they just took advantage of my grandfather’s garbage service. But, inevitably, they got sick of this and went back to having a can or two for pickup each week. At least the wild cats are gone.

  86. AD8BC says:

    @WV.Hillbilly: Y’know, I put up with a lot of crap on here because I drive a gas-guzzling pickup truck. Buran really hates me :-)… But I’m not all heartless.

    You can say that lots of things can be scams… personally, I think emissions testing is a scam. But, I recycle and I make a conscious effort to do so. Why?

    Well, landfill space for one. Why just bury it when you can reuse it? Even an evil conservative hatemonger like myself can understand this. It’s absolutely amazing how well aluminum recycles — just met it down and mold it again. Plastic bottles? They make great composite lumber for decks that require hardly no maintenance for years and years. They also make great carpet. Rubber tires? Grind ’em up and put them in the blacktop and the road will last a little bit longer before it creates potholes big enough to swallow a Prius.

    Sure, it may take a little more energy to recycle something. That energy may even pollute the environment a tiny bit more. But there is always a trade off and personally I hate burying things in the ground when I don’t have to.

  87. antisocial says:

    Hmm, when we stopped paying our bill, they came and took away our trash cans…

  88. Buran says:

    @ad8bc: I don’t hate you. I hate selfish attitudes.

  89. trujunglist says:


    In the same National Geographic article that Buran was talking about, they go through the entire recycling process and show that most recycling is sorted by machines.
    It also shows the energy gains (savings, whatever) from recycling over generating new material broken down by material and how much of each material is recycled by each country. The USA, unsurprisingly, is not anywhere near 1st place where we should be.
    That reminds me, someone should turn this into a U-S-A chanter thing. That’d help get people to recycle.

  90. trujunglist says:


    Arizona does recycle. You must be confused because of the way Phoenix smells. You’ll get used to it.

  91. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …he either grinds it up and burns it or flushes it down the disposer. Sounds like he’s not properly disposing of what little waste he generates.

    @xerloq: He pulverizes yard waste and puts food down the food disposal. Unless he’s lying about not burning garbage other than yard waste then he isn’t doing anything wrong.