Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How can I get my neighbours to stop putting non-recylable food rubbish in my yellow recycling bin?
February 27, 2011 9:17 PM   Subscribe

How can I get my neighbours to stop putting non-recylable food rubbish in my yellow recycling bin?

I live in a block of 8 units (flats).

Each unit has its own yellow-lidded (recycling) bin and red-lidded (rubbish) bin.

All but one or two of the units keep their bins in common areas because there is nowhere else to keep them (our unit is up a steep flight of stairs, it's not possible to get a 240-litre wheeled bin up and down the stairs every week.)

Each bin has a unit number painted on the front or written on the lid.

The bins look quite different - the yellow lid bin is twice the size of the red lid bin, in addition to having a bright yellow lid.

Recently, one of my neighbours (and I'm pretty sure I know which one, it's an Indian family with young kids and not much English) started putting mouldy fruit etc in our recycling bin.

This makes me hopping mad, as

a) I go to a lot of effort to separate out our recyclables to reduce our environmental footprint;

b) they have their own perfectly good red lid bin to use; and

c) If their red bin was full, they could use our red lid bin and I wouldn't mind at all.

I talked to one of the kids and one of the teenagers about how food scraps go in the red bin, the yellow bin is just for glass/aluminium/paper/plastic... but I don't know if they understood me through the language barrier.

Whenever I see the neighbours putting rubbish in the bins, 90% of the time it is the young kids (11-13 years maybe?)

How can I get my neighbour to stop putting non-recylable food rubbish in my yellow recycling bin?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total)
 
Drill it, padlock it, unlock it to add refuse, and unlock it on collection day. That will stop the neighbours from putting things in your bin. (This is a common tactic in our neighbourhood. It works well.)

It will not, however, stop them from putting the wrong items in someone's wrong bin. If you really want to get to the root of this problem, you need to ask them what their native language is and get the directions for trash and recycling translated into that. (I'm sure Ask can assist you with that, next week if needed.)
posted by DarlingBri at 9:25 PM on February 27, 2011


This hasn't proven particularly successful at work with my fluent english speaking colleagues but maybe a laminated picture with foods (fruit, bread, etc.) and a red circle with a line through it might help illustrate proper disposal designation for your bin?

You might be able to contact your local "department that handles this type of waste management" and see if they have any multi-language materials that you can distribute? I've been seeing more public information documents being printed in more than one language to reflect the diverse ethnic demographic in my area.

Keep trying with the kids. Their language acquisition ability will constantly improve and eventually your simple request will be understood. Getting them to cooperate however, is a different beast.
posted by loquat at 9:29 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think your first step should probably be to actually try talking to the parents.
posted by auto-correct at 9:34 PM on February 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


I like the idea of putting laminated photos on each bin.

Getting the kids to cooperate: I think if they see you as a weird anal old grouch they will ignore you, and if they like you they will cooperate. When you see them going to the bins, and you direct them which bin to thow their food in, and point out the photos, make sure you smile while you're doing it, and have some sweets ready in your pocket for them.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:40 PM on February 27, 2011


Do you own your flat, or does someone manage it? Talk to the manager about putting signs up in the common area-- then it's not on you to be the bad cop. Otherwise, lock your bin.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:44 PM on February 27, 2011


Talk to your neighbors. Go knock on their door.

Really.
posted by killdevil at 9:46 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ashley801: "and have some sweets ready in your pocket for them."

No no, we do not give candy to strange children!

*Except on October 31st
posted by DarlingBri at 9:48 PM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay then little tchotchkie's of the sort that you'd find in a vending machine or marbles or a couple coins or stickers or something like that. Kids like stuff and they are super loyal to people who give them stuff.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:52 PM on February 27, 2011


Drill it, padlock it, unlock it to add refuse, and unlock it on collection day. That will stop the neighbours from putting things in your bin.

If the OP is in Australia (and it sounds like they might be), the bins are probably council owned, so depending on the council, doing that might net you a fine for damaging council property.

I'd probably use masking tape myself, they can pull it off but assuming they're putting the rubbish in the wrong bin out of ignorance or laziness rather than malice, they probably won't bother.

That'd only work for your bin, though, which isn't ideal. I'd second loquat about checking with your council/other administrative entity to see if they have the types of labels that get put on public rubbish/recycling bins, which illustrate what goes in which bin.

Also, do you have any bilingual neighbours that can interpret for you? I live in an ethnically diverse but friendly neighbourhood where hardly anybody has the same first language, but most speak multiple languages well enough that there is usually someone around who's happy to translate if necessary. Your neighbourhood obviously may vary.
posted by lwb at 10:58 PM on February 27, 2011


Our council, in Sydney, has information leaflets about recycling in about ten different languages. Insert "we have to keep chucking them away" joke here.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:06 AM on February 28, 2011


11-13-year old kids are not going to be impressed by marbles or stickers, I guarantee you that. Try talking to the parents, and if that doesn't work, I like the "No food" graphic idea.
posted by cooker girl at 3:49 AM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Talk to your neighbors. Go knock on their door.

Yeah, most Indians who've emigrated understand English pretty well, even if they don't speak it too well, and it's likely to promote good neighborliness (read: get you some great Indian food!) in general. Try talking directly to them first--bringing your graphic with you might be a good idea.
posted by Rykey at 7:51 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older You've met someone who could, ...   |  Is it possible to screen-print... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.