Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Why do my neighbors leave their trash next to the garbage chute?

Your neighbors carry their trash to the chute but then leave it on the floor. Why?


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My building has incinerator chutes left over from when garbage was burned, and we are supposed to throw our trash in bags down those chutes. The problem is that residents just leave the bag outside the chute, in the very tiny enclosure. There is usually garbage all over the floor. What would you do about this? Signed, Garbage Grouch


Dear Grouch,

This could lead to bigger problems like mice and pests, so residents really need to put their trash bags down the chute. The problem may be that the bags are too large to fit down the old chutes. There should be another place to put them. 

In my building we have the same incinerator rooms. However, we also have a place in the basement with large bins for trash and recyclable cans and bottles. People can also leave newspapers and cardboard boxes in designated areas. Our porter cleans out the incinerator rooms every other day, but the basement bins really keep things neat.

Talk to someone on your board and ask if the board could put up a sign telling people what to do and what not to do. You could also put cameras in the hallways. This might wake up the people who are just leaving their trash around. It would also make your building more secure. The camera in our building showed us that a homeless woman was sleeping on the fifth floor. Needless to say, the doorman who let that happen is no longer with us.

Spilled trash is not just unsightly, it’s dangerous too. Someone could slip and fall on a banana peel—and I’m not making light of the problem.

While it would be very costly to take the chutes out, if the problem continues, the doors to the chutes could be sealed. Then your neighbors would have to take their trash all the way down to the basement.

Remind everyone of that alternative and hopefully they will clean up their act.

Ms. Demeanor

Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.