One Person’s Trash… is Private Property

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This article is part of Sociecity Youth on Assignment, a program where Sociecity Editors work with high school students and their teachers to help students create articles that bring to light real, challenging social issues affecting their lives. [/box]

by Arlene Gonzalez
Gunderson High School, San Jose, USA

Photo: Megan Schnabel, Sociecity

Photo: Megan Schnabel, Sociecity

Do you consider the trash in your trash bins to be public property?

Many people would agree that once the trash bin is on the street awaiting to be picked up, yes, it is public property. However it doesn’t stop people from complaining about those people who go through trash bins looking for soda cans or any other type of recyclable objects. One could say that when people go through the bins it is a violation of property and that is illegal [and by law in some localities, it is].

“Its MY trash and I don’t think its okay for them to just go through my trash…”

Eleven out of the 33 people I interviewed said they would not like if people went through their trash bins.

“Its MY trash and I don’t think its okay for them to just go through my trash on trash days or on any given day!” Said Erica Martin, one of the people I asked on this subject.

However I also asked Cristina Lucero who responded by saying “I don’t mind if they go through my trash when my trash bin is out on the curb awaiting to be picked up, obviously whatever I have in there has no value to me, so hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

In a way it is very easy to understand why people would have problems with someone going through their trash. Even if the trash is going to be dumped into a truck, people have this sense it is their property.

Has anyone stopped and thought of what these people looking through trash cans go through?

Most people who have to sell cans and are underprivileged, or may not be able to find a job. The only way they have of bringing in any income to their family is going through trash bins and find cans to resell to a recycling plant. This not only helps people of low income but it also helps the environment.

Some of these people who go into trash bins help the environment by getting cans people so carelessly put into the trash and take them to get recycled. So the next time you see someone looking for cans in a trash bin, don’t be so quick to judge them.


more from Soceicity Youth on Assignment

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