Passive Aggressive Notes: The Politics of Trash 消極抵抗的紙條:垃圾政治

Following on from my past post on the passive aggression that results from the limited parking spaces in Taipei, I thought I’d follow up with a similar post about rubbish, after seeing this sign, on a street in the Daan district of Taipei:


If you live in Taipei you’ve probably seen a whole heap of signs similar to this, but the hysterical tone and the interesting use of punctuation of this particular one made it stand out for me. It reads:

Can’t you have the least shred of decency? Don’t pile rubbish up here!!?? Dogs come here to eat it every day and there is shit everywhere.

If you don’t live in Taiwan you may be unfamiliar with the system. Basically you have to buy special bags at convenience stores to put rubbish in, then at a certain time  every day the rubbish trucks will come to the end of your street. Unlike in the UK, you can’t just leave your rubbish out for the dustmen, but rather you have to throw it into the truck yourself. There’s also an accompanying truck for recyclables. If you can’t make a certain time, you can always go to a neighbouring street’s rubbish collection point to throw away your rubbish.

Some people either have super-hectic schedules or don’t like to wait for the truck, however, so you’ll often see piles of rubbish in certain places, which generally drive those who live beside them crazy. I’ve also witnessed people throwing their rubbish into abandoned lots and building sites. As a result, there are always handwritten notices accompanying official fine notices in every area of the city.

I previously did a photo collection for eRenlai on this issue, which included this photo:


This is a very common site in Taipei.

Throwing out your rubbish might seem like a pain, but it is a chance to see what your neighbours look like and to overhear bits and pieces of Chinese and Taiwanese conversation. The one downside is that people will scrutinize your rubbish not-so-surreptitiously to see if you’ve accidentally put some recyclables with your rubbish; generally people are friendly about this though and it’s another chance to try out your Chinese.

If you’re a new arrival in Taipei, you can check out when the truck comes to your street here (Chinese only), or just listen for the music.


1 thought on “Passive Aggressive Notes: The Politics of Trash 消極抵抗的紙條:垃圾政治

  1. Pingback: Awkwardly Phrased Passive Aggressive Note | Translating Taiwanese Literature

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