Notes on wheelie bins 2

When I pass wheelie bins on foot (rather than car), I am closer to their plastic mouths and throats and so can examine contents with a critical face. And note who put the wrong bin out. And who places things incorrectly, or, worse still, doesn’t sort at all.

When I pull my bins to the road, I hope nobody notices any of my bin discretions.

Once our bin got swapped with our neighbour’s, which is impossible. Our neighbour had just cleaned his. Ours was truly foul. And his ended up at our gate, where we later exchanged bins but not eye contact.

The truck drivers did it. Because why not; it’s a sensational way to blend citizen angst and make our recycling look doubtful, seeing as it isn’t ours.

I admire binners who cast their bins to the road broadside and trudge back inside without looking back. Disregard council instructions this side to road and spin the bin so its chest is angled wrong and its lips oily from the cracked margarine container clamped butter side up to the roof of its mouth.

I put my bins side by side so they can sit with straight ankles and thin mouths and hate all the other bins in the road who all rock and spill the weeks data at each other. Bin gossip.

‘Full of magazines and margarine lol.’

‘Busted crockery, busted bit of fireplace, bit of old rug.’

‘Got stood up.’

‘Lost out.’

‘Someone took a mask out o me and used her again.’


‘What’s that under yr rib?’

‘Can of spew.’

‘They recying bits of tiffany lamps, they?’

‘Nope. Garry’ll ditch that.’


‘Parrently that family there’ve got a new coffee table nice one with tiles stuck on and none loose.’


‘Yeah. You’ll be eating ‘em soon. Varnish like sugar. Give us one when they come.’


‘Here he comes that stupid truck. Get ready to spew. The barker of Barker. Seatbelts.’

But my bins only whisper together, and the ones across the road are even more sour; straight and silent until I go away and then wheel out along the kerb handing out pamphlets.

There’s one down the road that’s always on its back at the end of bin day. Can’t seem to land right and doesn’t care either. It’s always laying with slumpy square hips across a pile of gravel and other bits of household stuff the truck won’t take. Sometimes it sleeps there until the following bin day, and is then dragged back in and force fed another week’s failures.

I like walking along and seeing them all standing there in mountain pose. Mouths locked around what we believe we don’t want because we just have too much of basically everything. Bins sucking on leftover confectionary, rattling fast food pots beneath their teeth, squeezing vegemite jars between thighs, tying cardboard to their soles in summer.

Imagine if we didn’t have wheelie bins. How much of our life we’d miss.

What wheelie bins do

I like Thursdays because it’s wheelie bin day, and I look at them on the way to the shop, standing in wobbly rows in the hot dust and doing basically nothing. But that’s wrong.

Nothing works so hard as the wheelie bin. When I pass them, all the way to work, they’re in little groups mulling over a whole week’s story. And exhausted really. Some are skewed and crooked with broken feet and sagging bellies and some are split from chin to knee.

Sometimes, in our road, they are not straight. They are shoulders to the road and backs hunched.

I see the green bins and yellow bins leaning into each other, exchanging gaseous news about what their families are going through, mouths slightly ajar, unable to close on the morning’s breakfast.  Some are rattling and chewing in the breeze and dropping careless milk cartons, and with odd things like camping chair legs protruding like a chicken bones through plastic lips.

Through Woodchester, there’s two without lids, the clasps protruding from necks, and one is bandaged heavily around the gut with silver tape. Some wear beards of food and greenery.

Some foam at the mouth. Some have fallen in the wind and are still lying broadside in the gravel when I drive back home. Some have been towed back to their seats. Some get hosed out and have to cough up that last bit of egg carton. Imagine not having them.