Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Bin Brigade

It’s Tuesday morning 8.30ish. Gathering the last bits of trash around the flat. Rush off to the bins before the truck arrives. Only to find the customary and colourful Bin Brigade beating me to it… as usual.

To say it irks me would be putting it mildly. Somebody carefully filtering though my trash for bits and pieces of fortune. A day or two earlier I was cleaning out old paper work and threw away some ancient ID photos. This particular Tuesday, chief of the Bin Brigade stops me before getting to the car to ask whether I “know this lady?”. Oh why didn’t I tear the damn thing up before dumping it??! A few weeks earlier I caught the chief merrily reading my 2000-something appointment diary.

These little scenarios got me thinking on some things… should I be taking extra care when dumping my dirt? For heavens sake its dirt… empty containers… ash… peels and the science experiments from my fridge. What puzzled me more though was the religious gathering of the Bin Brigade and their mechanics. How do they know when bin day is in the various areas? I mean… do they keep a little diary…. “hmmm Tuesday Wysteria Lane…. Wednesday Daisy Avenue”.

To investigate the phenomenon – I engaged Henry, my former homeless acquaintance who now tenders the flat-block garden and stuff. Henry explained that Bin Brigades are territorial groups (well he obviously didn’t use the words Bin Brigade – but you get my drift). “When you sleep in a particular area , you just get to know when bin day is or hear it from someone. And beware your soul if you go scratching in another area’s bins where others operate ”.

Henry’s version is that most of the Bin Brigade comes from good homes, have left due to all sorts of circumstances and sleep in the streets when they have no pace else to go. Scratching in bins becomes a “means of survival” as all sorts of “useful” goodies come out of our bins.

Eish! my trash a means of survival?! A sad but true fact it seems. And after exploiting our bins and the remains are carted away to the dump, another Brigade finds their way there for further filtering of treasures.
It’s distressing that people resort to such measures as a means a survival in this day and age. So yes, we could create more soup kitchens or involve restaurants where the problem of food is concerned, but how do we go about tackling the problem and not just the symptom? How can we prevent people from landing up on the streets to begin with? Would better social welfare systems be tackling the problem or the symptom?

I’m not so sure about the answers here and think the solution lies somewhere between education and social welfare systems. Either way, we have to seriously think about doing something to eradicate the Bin Brigade or take better care when throwing out the trash.


  1. Vok.... now I gonna think about this whole day. Amazing how we take
    things for granted Eish.. This is such an awesome topic.. One could
    nicely write a book about this.. The book I am currently reading by
    JODI PICOULT also referred to someone who was once a professor of
    English and lost it all to join the BIN BRIGADE...

    And just last nite I threw a bunch of re-usables away.. They should
    invest in cellphones I would have sms'd them.. Lol..

    Have a splendid week further, coz U deserve nothing less.


  2. Be careful, maybe the CIA or RSA equivalent is investigating you/ watching you. That is truely non-intrusive investigation; why I say this is that once your personal stuff is out of your house, it is now in the public domain and guess what? We can track your life, what you are eating, changes in patterns like visitors, smoking habits, boyfiends, girlfriends etc. We can write a whole profile based on your garbage, we might even link this to where you shop, what you shop and even what medication you are taking. Big brother is watching! and it's not just your e-mails and sites you visit. So next time you see that homeless person going thru' your trash, check what jeans he is wearing under that shabby coat!!!

  3. I got only one word for you my friend, RECYCLING!! This will prevent the bin brigade form going through your stuff and it is job creation :)