June 17 is now National Garbage Man Day, thanks to an effort by Arwood Waste Inc. CEO John Arwood

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June 17 is now National Garbage Man Day, thanks to an effort by Arwood Waste Inc. CEO John Arwood

Cartoon by Leo Michael

June 17 is now National Garbage Man Day, thanks to an effort by Arwood Waste Inc. CEO John Arwood (see the full story article here).

Whether or not the day catches on with the public or gets an “official” designation from Congress remains to be seen.

Regardless, a wrong has been righted.

Amazingly, until Arwood launched his campaign, there was no day to honor sanitation workers and the public service they provide.

It’s amazing because there are already literally hundreds of strange “holidays” out there. In just the first week of June, the calendar will give us Hug Your Cat Day, National Doughnut Day, National Bubba Day, Flip a Coin Day and National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. The rest of June features days that honor jugglers, insurance professionals, beauticians, nursing assistants, Donald Duck and, of course, fathers. As it is, National Garbage Man Day will have to share June 17 with Eat Your Vegetables Day. (Luckily it just missed International Panic Day – June 18.)

Sure, a day of recognition for collection workers isn’t a crucial issue. But it isn’t completely inconsequential either. As we have urged and advocated for many times on these pages, the reputation of sanitation workers must be changed. The front-line workers need the recognition, admiration – and respect on the road – that they deserve.

Anything that inches us closer to that, no matter how seemingly trivial, we will support.

Arwood himself, the father of this holiday, isn’t planning to go overboard on June 17.

“Nothing major,” he says. He’s sending cards to his workers and urging other folks to give some cookies or a bottle of water to their collection workers. He’s also asking the public to do something significant.

“I’m thinking maybe, that we don’t take garbage men for granted. …. Walk out there and just simply thank them.”

After we succeed on June 17, the rest of the year comes next.




Take a moment; Think about garbage

If you are like me, garbage usually leaves your train of thought as soon as you place the offending object in those white plastic bags. Out of sight, out of mind.

But for John D. Arwood, second generation garbage man and CEO of Arwood Waste, trash collection is something never far from his mind.

June 17th, National Garbage Man Day

This June, John D. Arwood invites the nation to celebrate trash collectors, dumpster haulers, sewage workers, street cleaners and just about anyone who does the dirty jobs that we would rather not do ourselves. Arwood is raising awareness for our garbage men and women that make our cities and homes livable. “Garbage men are a sign of a healthy city,” said Arwood. Whether it’s the people who empty your fast food grease traps or deliver your port-a-potties, these are the people who make our lives smell better.

John D. Arwood found his enjoyment for recycling at a young age gathering aluminum cans around the neighborhood on his bicycle. Arwood grew up alongside his father in garbage collection and conservation. It has become a passion in the family. When asked about his family’s American Indian heritage, Arwood feels it plays a significant role in their decision to choose a pathway of conservation and honoring the environment by leaving a clean footprint.

Why are garbage men so essential to merit a national holiday?

Practically, if the waste management industry were to decide to take a day off, we would quickly revert back to medieval waste management practices. Tossing buckets of sewage off balconies or throwing household trash onto growing walls of garbage along our sidewalks, even possibly unleashing pigs in the streets to eat up our filth are only a few examples.

New York City truly thrived as a community only after the creation of the New York City Department of Street Cleaning in response to the littered streets and ineffectual garbage collection of the day. Previous to this time, garbage collection was handled by the police department.

Garbage collection is the highest expense for a city behind the Police and Fire Department. The Police and Fire Departments, because of their essential position in our society, also have a celebratory day to honor their work. It follows appropriately to honor the waste management workers as well.

Without the garbage men of our communities, many cities would be driven to a state of disorder, often worse than natural disasters. According to the Centers for Disease Control, historically the eradication of many diseases in the Western World is due, in large part, to higher public sanitation standards resulting from efficient garbage disposal.

Garbage overrun cities are not so far from us today. Natural disaster or poverty ridden areas, such as Haiti, struggle with efficient public sanitation daily. Streets lined with six foot mounds of trash and rivers with contaminated water breed diseases and often cause premature deaths.

Even in the wake of recent storm Hurricane Sandy, for many devastated communities sanitation and garbage disposal has become a major obstacle to the recovery. A reminder that within days, our waste can overrun us.

Garbage Solutions for Today

Fortunately today we don’t have to live in our waste.

Over the years garbage men and women have developed creative ways to solve the problems of waste disposal. One of the hot topics in the industry is that of conserving the environment. It is the systematic practices of garbage collection personnel that allow for successful recycling and conservation efforts. Waste sources are gathered and then sorted by material types (plastic, glass, wood, metal, etc.) and then fed into the recycling system.

Garbage workers continue to think of not just ways to remove our unwanted trash, but also invent ways to reuse what was once thrown away. Arwood Waste focuses their energy on preserving our environment and recycling manufacturing by products. In a nation who consumes 1500 water bottles a second, garbage collection companies are always challenged to find new ways to dispose our trash. We need our garbage men and women more than we know.

On June 17th, bake your friendly neighborhood garbage man some cookies, leave him or her a tip, or go ahead and give your landfill attendant a high five.

Hats off to our Garbage Men!

Ways to Celebrate »

History of Garbage Collection »