Life off campus can be described in one word: Trash. For many, the word can be used as a verb, as in “We trashed his apartment last night” or as an adjective, as in “I was so trashed this weekend.” Yet, I prefer the simple noun to define the off-campus experience of a Georgetown student. Trash.

We live in a trash-obsessed community. Plain and imple: Georgetown is beautiful, but Trash is ugly. For an economics major: Property values in Georgetown are high, but trash-lined streets decrease them. For those sociology majors: Different social issues unite communities; in Georgetown, the issue is trash. Interpreted as you like, the issue is easy: Trash Matters.

Living off campus, the noun form of the word “trash” has acquired new significance. While you can still be “trashed” or you can “trash” a house, the problem of what to do with your trash becomes a vexing component of your day-to-day life. Even using the three forms of “trash” in a single sentence – as in “I was trashed when I trashed their house by throwing trash off the staircase” – you’re still stuck with the same predicament: what do you do with the noun-form of trash when you wake up in the morning?

Before coming to Georgetown, it never occurred to me that trash – yes, the waste products of human society, the one item nobody wants – could arouse such emotion within a community. It is clear that people have a passion for gardening or painting or golf. Public safety arouses an understandable interest within neighborhood residents. But while police and potted plants are understandable passions, the trash-obsession that engulfs Georgetown is unbelievable. It drives neighborhood activists, encroaches on every discussion of town-gown relations and seems to find its way into local publications on a weekly basis.

The regulations governing trash collection and disposal are incredible. Your trash must be out no earlier than 6:00 p.m. the night before pick-up or you face the wrath of Metro trash-enforcement. It gets picked up by 8:00 a.m. the following morning (a conspiracy to arouse forgetful college students into awaking before dawn). Violate the 14-hour trash window and you’ll be hearing from the D.C. Government and the Office of Student Affairs. Even with the bad economy, the position of Georgetown Trash Czar offers encouraging employment prospects.

What aspects of trash have created such lively passions within our community? Without question, the grossest violation of the politics of garbage removal is untimely trash. Violations of the 14-hour, twice-a-week window certainly fuel the trash-obsession. Of course, the trash obsession is fueled by poorly-placed trash, improperly-bagged trash, excessively-large trash, incorrectly-sealed trash, mixed-up trash and recycling and too much trash, as well. (Basically, what I’m saying is that the recyclable cushions of your leather couch shouldn’t be placed outside on Wednesday mornings in an unsealed bag. It’s a violation of every trash rule known to man. Or at least to Georgetown).To make things easier, utilize this trash checklist when putting out your trash:

-If it’s not Tuesday or Friday, they won’t take it.

-If it’s not sealed, they won’t take it.

-If it’s enormous (like a couch), they won’t take it.

-If it’s not on the sidewalk, they won’t take it.

-If it’s not in a trash bag, they won’t take it.

I don’t mean to detract from the passion of trash-obsessed community activists, but I’m tired of hearing about trash. I’m tired of it being the number one cause of conflict between neighbors and students. I’m tired of hearing about trash at meetings and reading about trash in the papers. If you want to be trashed, that’s your decision. If you want to trash your own house, that’s your decision, as well. But whatever you do, don’t put the wrong-sized trash in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Hoyas in the ‘Hood appears in The Hoya every other Tuesday. The author can be reached at mccabethehoya.com.

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