When I lived in France, doing the garbage involved hauling full bags from the second floor of the building to the huge stinky bin across the street. It was often overflowing but we didn’t really have a choice—you can’t keep waste too long in a small apartment, there is just no room for it.
Later, we started separating plastic and taking it to a new recycling bin a few blocks away. Plastic is cleaner (and not as stinky) so we didn’t make the trip as often.
In Ottawa, household waste (i.e. non recycle waste) is collected at the curb once a week. We also have two boxes for recyclable waste: a black one for paper and a blue one for glass, metal and plastic. These boxes are picked up on alternating weeks, black box one week and blue box the other. It’s actually funny to see that most people can’t remember which box to put outside and they tend to copy their neighbour—if one person gets the wrong box and entire row does too!
Recycling plastic, metal, glass and paper feels completely natural now. We store both bins in the garage and fill them up little by little during the week.
However, I’m not convinced by the Green Bin Program which aims at collecting organic waste. Basically, you are supposed to separate your food scrap and put it in a small kitchen bin, collected weekly. First, the paper bag to use for the bin is expensive (about $1 for a tiny bag). Second, food waste really stinks and attracts all kind of insects. After finding the bin covered in maggots, we just gave up. People suggest freezing the food waste until collection day but seriously, I have better things to do.
How does garbage collection work where you live?