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Richard - Trash Thank You

A work camper’s view: RVers biggest trash sins

“Hello, fellow RVers. It’s your friendly work camper here. A lot of us RVers work 20 to 25 hours a week around the park helping with pools, trash pickup and office work. Not every RV park offers daily trash pickup at your site, of course, but many do.

Having now collected our neighbors’ trash for several months, in a park that offers this service, here are 10 ways you can make your work camper’s day more pleasant. And who knows? A work camper may be your next-door neighbor. Treat them well and they’ll return the courtesy every morning as they grab your trash at the curb!

RVers’ “Top 10 Trash Sins”

1. Putting trash out the night before — Most RV parks ask guests not to do this, but not all RVers may know the reason why. It’s not just for appearances. Animals are remarkably good at finding the tasty morsels in the bottom of our trash bags. The problem is, when your work camper grabs a trash bag in which an animal has chewed a hole in the bottom, your trash escapes through the hole — leaving the work camper or park staff with a nasty cleanup job.

Recently, a guest in our park thought he could protect his trash by putting it in the back of his pickup truck overnight. A raccoon found it and that guest faced the same cleanup in his truck.

2. Putting 40 pounds of trash in one flimsy kitchen trash bag, when you really could use two — Your work camper must throw trash bags 5 to 6 feet up into the air to clear the edge of most dumpsters. To their credit, many RVers get out of their chairs if they are sitting outside and help put their trash into the trash cart.

Most also say “thanks,” which is always appreciated. It’s just that those guests aren’t at the dumpsters (and we don’t expect them to be) when we’re hoisting 40 pound trash bags. So go easy on the weight. It’s a big help to your work camper and park staff.

3. Putting nine tiny Walmart bags on the curb, when one standard kitchen trash bag would have held everything without exceeding the weight limit. Sure, at one time or another, all of us have put out one small, additional trash bag on the curb because we just couldn’t fit the last item into our big kitchen trash bag. But nine Walmart shopping bags? Yes, truly—it happens. More often than you’d think. Surprisingly, sometimes the biggest rigs use the smallest bags, often overstuffed, with wet paper towels and water bottles falling out the top.

4. Creating “leakers” — A “leaker” is a trash bag with liquid in the bottom. Maybe it came from leftover coffee in a cup you dumped. Maybe it was just oatmeal and very dark chocolate milk. Maybe . . . well, work campers have seen it all. But most trash bags aren’t watertight. Imagine what happens when one of us slings a trash bag 5 to 6 feet up into the air. If two of us are pitching trash into a dumpster, the spray from the leaker usually is not pleasant for the second work camper.

5. Hiding your trash — Here’s the picture: your truck, your towed vehicle or your friend’s car is parked in front of your rig. Your trash is neatly tucked alongside the vehicle, so that the work camper won’t see it at all, or if he/she does, it will only be long after they have passed your site. Put your trash in the street. Most roadways are wide enough to accommodate a trash bag in front of your truck, toad or friend’s car.

A closely related “sin” is leaving your trash 2 to 3 feet away from the roadway. Work campers are amazingly good at what might be called the “snatch and stash.” It’s a technique by which we pass near your site, snatch your trash from the ground, and stash it in the trash cart behind us — often without stopping. But if your trash is sitting 2 to 3 feet into your site, our only alternative is to stop the cart, get out, grab your trash, and stash it in the back of the cart. No big deal at one site, but imagine collecting trash from 100?

6. Creating “the surprise” — The surprise is when your work camper finds bottles, cans, bananas, watermelon rinds, or diapers, etc., hidden under the bags you put out. Somehow these “surprises” must be corralled in a way that permits disposal and not every work camper carries extra trash bags in his/her cart.

7. Putting out highly “aromatic” trash — If you are bagging diapers, dog poop, or cigarette/cigar butts (yes, your work campers get all of that and much more), it is a huge kindness to be sure the bags are tightly tied. If you want bonus points, throw in a few springs of rosemary or something with a more pleasant aroma. Hot summer days picking up RVers’ most “aromatic” trash can be tough. A shot of Febreze works well, too.

8. Including medical waste — Okay, work campers understand: almost everyone has a medical issue at one time or another. And some folks require regular injections of insulin or other medications. But you’ve seen those hazardous waste disposal bins at your physician’s office, where they place the syringe after giving an injection. That biohazard symbol is pretty ominous looking — umm, like, “Danger!” One guest at least alerted me by saying, “Oh, be really careful with our trash. We give injections to our dog.” If that RVer’s trash also weighed 30 to 40 pounds, would you lift it from the bottom? No, I wouldn’t either, not even with heavy gloves. Please be kind and protect your work campers from needles, broken glass (use a bag within the bag) or sharp metal.

9. Leaving trash bags untied — Okay, this “sin” doesn’t sound like a big thing. That’s why it is appearing near the end. But almost all trash bags have a cinch mechanism — usually orange or black plastic ribbons that allow you to pull the top closed. Or they have long “ears” that you can pull together and tie. Do it, please, if you will? The dumpsters may be a quarter- to half-mile from your site, depending on the size of the park. If your bag is on top of the trash cart’s load, your work camper becomes really discouraged when tissues, paper towels, and who knows what else, steam out of your trash bag and must be gathered up on the roadway.

10. Not breaking down your boxes — All of us live in the Age of Amazon. Online ordering is especially helpful to full-time RVers, because we can obtain items that are impossible to find locally shipped directly to the park where we are staying, as quickly as overnight. That said, big, empty boxes on your work camper’s trash cart means that he or she must:

  • Make many more trips to the dumpsters, when only one or two was necessary
  • Stop and break down your Amazon, Camping World, Eddie Bauer, Gander Mountain, Cabela’s, and other retailers’ boxes.

On the other hand, putting 30 to 40 pounds of trash in the box from your new charcoal grill is probably worse than not breaking down the box.

Richard - Dumpsters

A final caution

By the way, one final tip. Thin kitchen trash bags, both white and transparent ones, may reveal more than you realize. I haven’t seen the CIA around our park, so no one is deliberately going through your trash. But if you don’t want your latest bank statement (or whatever) showing through the side of your bag, black bags are very fashionable these days.

Enough! Your work campers really do love you. We are thrilled to see you and your families having fun together. None of these “sins” are pointed out in a mean way. Most of us have never considered the difference between putting out trash at an RV park and regular garbage pickup at home. I know I hadn’t, before becoming a work camper.

So, please make your RV park’s work campers happy. Avoid the “Top 10 Trash Sins.” You’ll make RVing a better experience for all of us!

About Richard Peck

Richard Peck is a certified sommelier in The Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as a certified wine educator in The Society of Wine Educators. He and his wife, Susan, are full-time RVers based in Sonoma County, Calif. They are currently doing a survey of Texas Hill Country wineries and planning a series of articles about everything you wanted to know about wine, but were afraid to ask. To pose a question, email Richard at rich@sojourningsomm.com. To follow their adventures, visit http://www.sojourningsomm.com.

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