Amy Campbell, Senior Editor

April 3, 2007

3 Min Read
Getting Trashed?

Most every week, some newspaper or other runs an article about how Americans are so attached to their STUFF, painting self-storage as some vulture of an industry waiting to prey on this weakness for materialism. OK, so we all know humans are prisoners of their junk. But rarely do writers focus on the behavior of people who need to dispose of stuff, and that, to me, is by far the more interesting story.

Think about it ... What do people do when they have stuff to unload? They're often surreptitious about it, like a binger hoarding her stash of Twinkies and Pringles. They toss items out of moving vehicles, dump them in parks and parking lots, sneak them into their neighbor's trash cans even. (Yes, I have actually found my neighbor's garbage in my receptacles!)

Here's a confession for you: When my husband and I have an excess of tossables or particularly bulky items unfit for Good Will, we load them into the truck in the wee hours of morning, drive behind the local grocery store and smuggle them into the dumpster! Yes, I am a criminal trash chucker! And I'll admit it's kind of a rush, one of us unloading our "getaway car" while the other stands just outside the reach of the motion-sensitive flood light, listening for sounds of activity behind the loading-dock door.

Some people are sensible and visit the local junkyard. Or they call charities or the city waste commission for pickup. Or they call services that specialize in making baggage disappearconsider, for example, 1-800-GOT-JUNK. But be aware ... These services won't take just anything, and they sometimes charge a fee. (By the way, if you've got time, go back and read this blog entry about how your storage operation can partner with 1-800-GOT-JUNK to help keep customers from illegally dumping on you.)

I'm mulling this over today because of an unusual article that ran on KGET 17 of Bakersfield, Calif. A storage operator is incensed by the garbage that is perpetually dumped on her property. She's installed surveillance cameras in hopes of deterring these trashinators. Just last Friday, she caught two men on video who made not one, not two, but four dumping trips to her propertyand had the gall to wave at the camera!

It's unreal what people will do. If you think customers' desperate need to hold onto stuff is outrageous, consider the funnier behaviors in which they engage when they're no longer enamored with it.

By the way, the Bakersfield article mentions that the city actually offers quarterly curbside pickup, with arrangements made by phone. The county offers monthly pickups. And residents can also take advantage of collection locations throughout the city.

If all else fails, you can always have a yard sale. My friends and I made about $500 at our last event and unloaded nearly all our community crap. We promptly went out and bought more, but that's the way of things, isn't it?


About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Senior Editor, Inside Self Storage

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