Keeping it Clean

Taking out the trash in Taipei is madness.

Let’s start with the trash bags. You have to use special trash bags sold by the city, pretty blue bags like this one. These bags come in different sizes and have different prices. Now, I do think this is a pretty good idea since not every household generates the same amount of trash. Instead of getting charged a flat fee to get your garbage picked up, you actually pay the city by buying the trash bags. It’s fair enough. If you generate a lot of garbage, you need to buy more trash bags, and therefore you pay more.

Now, those bags are only for regular trash. You need to put your organic garbage and recyclables in separate bags. All set and done, you need to figure out the garbage truck schedule.

Yes, you read that right. The garbage truck has a schedule, kind of like the school bus that picks up the kids in the morning. If you’re not there when the truck drives by, you need to try taking out your trash again another day. This is kind of what happens when the garbage truck drives by.

People in the neighborhood all stand outside waiting for the truck, which for some reason plays Für Elise to announce it’s arrival. But wait! It’s not just one truck, usually there are two or three! The first truck is the regular garbage truck. That one also lowers a couple of bins for people to put their organic garbage. Usually people bring it in buckets and empty them there. The trucks following the regular garbage truck are the recycling trucks. The guys in the recycling trucks sort out your recyclables right away.

As crazy as that sounds, people in Taipei take it very seriously, and hell, they must be doing it right. The city is super clean. I do see little pieces of trash here and there every now and then, but in general, it’s very clean.

Now. Guess what happened today. I did everything right. I had my special trash bags; I sorted out my garbage, and I went downstairs to wait for the truck. Suddenly, I realized there was no one else waiting for the truck. But why?? Well… today is Wednesday, one of the only two days of the week the garbage trucks don’t run. Do you know how sad it is to go back to your house with bags filled with garbage? Not new toys, not new books, not new clothes… GARBAGE. Yeah.