Saturday, March 29, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Bin Disappointed

by Peggy Robin

We’ve been awaiting delivery of our new city-supplied trash and recycling bins for weeks, but snowstorm after snowstorm has delayed their arrival. But today was the day! I was so looking forward to this, as my old Supercan had a broken latch -- it’s been that way for years. Using some stiff coated wire and a bit of DIY ingenuity, I rigged up my own lid-latch, which has worked well enough over the years to keep the racoons out…but it’s ugly. Yes, I know it’s kind of an oddball thing to care about, but I am tired of having a Supercan with a wired-attached lid sitting in front of my house on trash pickup days. I wanted one of those new, bigger, better Supercans that DPW had been promising us for weeks but had been unable to deliver due to round after round of relentless snow.

And now it’s here….and the lid doesn’t latch. It’s not that the latch doesn’t work, it’s that it’s not there at all. In a habitat filled with garbage-devouring animals well-versed in the various methods of opening any accessible source of human food, who are not only persistent, but ingenious, and capable of great teamwork and creativity, DPW has inexplicably settled upon a model that practically scream to racoons, “Enter Here - It’s a giant storage pod of delicacies!” As if the lack of a locking mechanism were not enough, the LID DOESN”T EVEN LIE FLAT. It’s cocked open at an inviting angle.

The minute the bin was off the truck, and I saw the lid askew, I ran after the delivery crew to tell them I’d been given a model with an obvious defect. “Look, the lid on this one doesn’t close all the way. I need another one,” I called after the departing Supercan men. One of the crew came back and inspected the lid. “It’s fine,” he pronounced. “They’re all that way on the truck. It will straighten itself out after a while.” Unless I misunderstand the way warped, heavy-duty plastic behaves over time, I don’t see that happening. What I do see happening is a trip to the hardware store, where I will buy some heavy-duty coated wire, and then I will drill a couple of wire-sized holes in the lid, and thread the wire through the holes, and  twist the wire into a loop that can catch on something on the front of the can, creating a hook-and-eye-like catch that even the highest-IQ raccoon won’t be able to uncouple.

Now I know someone is bound to suggest that I get hold of a couple of nice, big, heavy bricks and just set them down on top of the lid, problem solved. But knocking bricks off the top of a trashcan is child’s play for the racoons of Cleveland Park. So it’s back to the wire for the brand-new bin, ugly or not....


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.


  1. Just leave it in the sun for an hour and it will settle down. They all came that way. If you'd read the documents that came with it, you'd have seen it addresses that very topic.

  2. Yes, I did read that -- and that inviting gap between the lid and the can may indeed disappear. But my concern is that even when the lid closes properly, there's no latch, so a couple of raccoons could climb inside, shake the can around enough to tip it over, and then tear into all the garbage. That's how they would break into the old can, after the original latch broke, and before I devised my wire-hook latch. Maybe these new cans are so big and heavy that a pair of raccoons can't tip it from the inside ... but somehow I think they can manage it. Our DC raccoons are really big, strong, and determined!

  3. Thanks for the idea Peggy, now I also made ​​a homemade castle wire and solved my problem :)