Published on August 15th, 2017 | by Ann Rickard


Let’s Talk Garbage – Real Garbage

Let’s talk garbage. Real garbage, not the sort I can dish up in this column if I put my mind to it.

In Tuscany where I am right now, garbage is important. Dealing with it is not the easy matter we are used to with one big bin for recyclables, another for household waste and a wheel out to the nature strip once a week.

Here inside the walled city of Lucca there are no nature strips so that puts paid to that easy task, but that is not the real concern.

“Garbage must be meticulously sorted inside the household before there is any consideration of it going outside the door.”

Garbage disposal is a complex business and it takes a bit of learning the ropes and then a lot of finger-crossing that you will get things right. Garbage regulations must be strictly adhered to. Fines of up to hundreds of euros apply for garbage-disobedience.

Garbage must be meticulously sorted inside the household before there is any consideration of it going outside the door.

One bag for paper, one for recyclables, one for ‘organic’ (food waste.) All must go in different coloured bags. Waste disposal units are not permitted…very unfriendly…so that means every eggshell, potato peeling and tealeaf must go into the ‘organic’ bag.

The bags must be bought at a specialist bag-selling outlet in an industrial estate outside the walls. Paper-work is involved before purchase. Computer records are taken.

Sorting your garbage into three different lots in different coloured bags is not difficult, I know that, but it is the learning and the remembering of which days the different bags go out, and in what order and colour, that takes a bit of head scratching.

So far, I have confused the recycling day with the paper day. In fact, I have confused the recycling bag with the paper bag a dozen times. While paper

towels and tissues are, well…paper…and go into the paper bag, a piece of cardboard is not, it is a recyclable. Still with me?

Warnings of hefty fines if you put the wrong thing in the wrong bag have had me in a lather. Worse, getting the wrong bag outside on the wrong day means it won’t get picked up and could sit outside my handsome 500-year-old door for a week, shaming me in front of the neighbours.

And the neighbours, all smugly efficient at garbage sorting, will readily shame you. You cannot use the excuse of being a straniera, stranger. That won’t cut it with a garbage-police neighbour.

There have been rumours in town of other stranieras being buttonholed in the cobbled streets and screamed at for their lack of garbage etiquette. There is even an unconfirmed rumour that one straniera (who has lived here for five years but is still considered a stranger) has refused to properly learn the garbage-rules and is now considering moving to Costa Rica to escape the wrath of the neighbours.

I repeat, garbage is serious business.

If your garbage accumulates to a point where you need to put it out more than once a week, there are public bins in one of the beautiful squares in the town.

However, they are locked, you must be a local to use them, and you must have a special authority-giving laminated key-card. Obtaining one of these cards would be like gold for me because the people in my household (two of us) have a propensity for emptying wine bottles at a speed faster than Superman can fly (and that’s faster than a speeding bullet as you well know) and the recycling bag cannot cope with even a half a day’s worth of our consumption.

But I learn, I sort, I fret, and then I praise the town-authorities for their meticulous attention to the well-being of their ancient and lovely city.


About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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