12 Things You Didn’t Know About Trash Collectors

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Trash collectors are the unsung heroes of our urban environments. They play a pivotal role in keeping our streets clean and our communities healthy. Yet, there’s so much more to their job than just hauling away garbage.

Here are 12 fascinating facts about trash collectors that will give you a newfound appreciation for these everyday heroes: 

The Lucrative Side of Trash Collection

Courtesy of Slate.com

Believe it or not, trash collectors sometimes find unexpected treasures in the garbage. These range from designer purses and jewelry to cash and even a Tag Heuer watch!

While these valuable finds can turn a routine day into an unexpected payday, they are rare occurrences, not the norm.

One of the Most Dangerous Jobs

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Trash collection is not allowed in the park. In 2021, collecting refuse and recyclable materials was the seventh most dangerous occupation in the U.S., holding the sixth spot in 2019 and 2020 and fifth in 2018. It had been consistently in the top five in previous years—information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trash collectors face a myriad of daily hazards. They risk getting hit by vehicles while working on busy streets, endure exposure to hazardous materials that pose health risks, and brave unpredictable weather conditions that can make their job even more challenging.

Unsung Heroes of Sanitation

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Trash collectors are the unsung heroes of our urban environments. They are essential to our public health and safety. Imagine a world without them—piles of trash would quickly lead to unsanitary conditions and potential disease outbreaks. 

They are the backbone of urban sanitation, and their work deserves our respect and appreciation.

Community Insights

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Trash collectors gain a unique perspective on the neighborhoods they serve. They can discern a lot about people based on their trash—how clean or messy they are, how much they recycle, and even their eating habits.

This unique insight allows them to develop a deeper understanding of the communities they serve, almost ‘feeling’ the personality of a neighborhood through its waste.

Environmental Impact

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Trash collectors significantly contribute to sustainability by managing waste efficiently. They help divert recyclables from landfills, reducing waste in these sites. 

Additionally, they ensure hazardous materials are disposed of properly, preventing potential environmental damage. In this way, they play a crucial role in reducing our ecological footprint.

Psychological Toll

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The job isn’t just physically demanding; it also significantly impacts their mental well-being. Constant exposure to dirt and bad smells and the pressure of tight schedules can be mentally exhausting. 

Support from the community, like a simple thank you or a cold drink on a hot day, can make a big difference.

The Role of Technology

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Modern waste management has embraced technology. From GPS tracking that helps optimize routes to automated garbage trucks that reduce the need for manual lifting, technology is revolutionizing trash collection. 

These advancements make the job safer and more efficient, allowing trash collectors to do their work more effectively.

Hidden Hazards

Courtesy of CBC

You’d be surprised at the dangerous items people throw away. Liquids, needles, cat litter, and bleach can pose significant risks to trash collectors. Always be mindful of how you dispose of hazardous materials.

Animal Encounters

Courtesy of Newsweek

From squirrels and rats to raccoons, encountering animals in the trash is a common yet nerve-wracking experience for collectors. 

Squirrels, in particular, are notorious for chewing through trash bins and making surprise appearances.

Autumn Leaves

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While most of us marvel at the beauty of autumn, trash collectors dread the season. The high volume of fallen leaves adds an extra layer of work, making their already challenging job even harder.

Appreciating Simple Gestures

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It’s incredible how small acts of kindness brighten a trash collector’s day. Offering a bottle of water on a hot day or a cup of coffee when it’s cold out can make a difference. You can show them that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

Bizarre Discoveries

Courtesy of KTNv

The things people throw away can be truly bizarre. Imagine finding Egyptian papyrus paintings, entire record collections, or a sack full of arcade tokens! These unusual finds add a touch of mystery and excitement to the daily grind of trash collection, making each day a potential treasure hunt.

Trash collectors are more than just the people who take away our garbage. They are vital community members, facing unique challenges and significantly contributing to our well-being and the environment. Next time you see your neighborhood trash collector, give them a wave or a nod—because now you know how incredible their job is!

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