Hello, this is container 100419100017965 in Camperdown, Australia. Based on my fill-up history, I expect to be full on Saturday, February 9th 2019.
0 replies 0 retweets 0 likes
Hello, this is container 100416100005860 in Kornsjø, Norway. My current internal temperature is -4 C.
0 replies 0 retweets 2 likes
Hello, this is container 100406100099556 in Montreal, Canada. The signal strength of my cellular network connection is 39%.
1 reply 0 retweets 1 like
OK, I admit it. Small things amuse me.
But sometimes it’s nice to get some positive reinforcement that, out there in the big horrible world, some things are unfolding exactly as they should.
I have to have some presence on social media because, if nothing else, that’s one of the biggest places people go to find the news stories, columns and opinion copy they read. The obverse is also true: I don’t only transmit on sites like Twitter, I also receive. I get ideas, read articles and scientific papers I wouldn’t necessarily know about if they weren’t found and posted by the people I follow.
You don’t need me to tell you that social media can be a cesspit of hate and bile. That’s a given.
But every now and then, I stumble onto a site that just makes me smile. Every time.
That’s what the Trashcan Life Twitter account does — in fact, that’s all it does. No pithy thoughts, no uplifting mantras, no retweets, just trash cans the world over, talking about their own particular necessities of life, and asking their own existential questions.
Am I cold? Am I full? When do I think I’ll need to be emptied?
No pithy thoughts, no uplifting mantras, no retweets, just trash cans the world over, talking about their own particular necessities of life, and asking their own existential questions.
Of course, sensor technology in garbage cans is not just about amusing journalists. It’s also about saving money, fuel and waste. The waste bins are sending messages to head office through the cellular network, so that the waste company involved, Finland’s Enevo, can better schedule pick-ups for exactly when they’re needed.
“Our sensor detects container fill levels using ultrasonic sonar technology. When the sensor and analytics detect the need for a collection, our haulers make a collection — nearly eliminating missed collections and dumpster overflow,” the company says in its frequently-\ asked questions section. “Once we understand your waste and waste patterns, we are able to implement designated programs (specialized package recycling, food waste donation, etc.) that decrease landfill waste and increase your recycling diversion rates.”
Smart idea, hey?
But for me, it’s more: it’s become a regular daily touchstone.
I know it’s never going to be any more than that; in a way, it’s like lying back in a deck chair at twilight on a sunny day and watching all the expected stars slowly coming out in all the expected places. Like listening to the National Research Council official time signal, “at the beginning of the long dash, following 10 seconds of silence,” which has played the same way on CBC since 1939.
Automated features are not without their dark side, too. You don’t have to be too convinced of the possibility of global apocalypse to imagine a world without us, a world where the Trashcan Life garbage cans keep trying to send out their messages, but to an uncaring and unhearing world: “Still not full,” “The signal strength of my cellular network is 0 per cent.”
Until that happens, I’ll just smile whenever the trashcans send me a tweet.
Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be any more than that.
And it’s better than some of the other trash I have to follow on Twitter.
Recent columns by this author
Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org — Twitter: @wangersky.