reasons to love new york

Good-bye, Beautiful Trash Cans

Illustration: Peter Arkle

The street-corner wire bin is on its way out, and its replacement is better in almost every functional way. It stacks for transport as its predecessor did not, and it’s sleek and crisp-looking (for a garbage can). The old one weighs 34 pounds empty and a lot more when full, making it a fine means of sending sanitation workers into midlife rotator-cuff surgery; the new one has a lightweight plastic liner that is a far easier lift. But let us offer a little aesthetic appreciation, at least, for the visual toughness and purity of the departing steel-mesh basket, a version of which has populated our streets for nearly a century. Once manufactured upstate by Norwich Wire Works and more recently (and distressingly) by a prison-labor company called Corcraft, it’s the very icon of a wastebasket (literally; on an Apple computer screen, the trash icon is quite similar). It hid nothing, since the mesh allowed you to see how full it was. Therein, however, lay the seeds of its obsolescence because it was very much not ratproof — and, heaven knows, this mayor has emphasized getting rid of rats. (Also, that not-quite-empty coffee cup you tossed in had a way of immediately spattering through the bottom and onto your shoes, and that won’t happen with the new ones.) So bid those 23,000 relics farewell as they head off into the waste stream. They will, unlike most of their former contents, be recycled.

Illustration: Peter Arkle

More reasons to love new york

See All
Good-bye, Beautiful Trash Cans