Dear Tell All: I live in a neighborhood near West High where the houses are close together. That makes for an intimate relationship with the neighbors - too intimate sometimes.
Our environmentally conscious household doesn't generate a lot of garbage, so our trash bin usually has lots of room to spare on pickup day. Not so our neighbors to the east, whose bin is always overflowing with junk.
Fine - to each his own. The problem comes when the neighbors dash out the morning of pickup and dump their excess garbage bags into our bin. They've never asked our permission, and we've never told them not to do it. But the whole thing bothers me. No, they're not committing a crime, and our bins do have the room. So why am I annoyed?
Dear Refuse-nik: You're an-noyed because you're territorial. We evolved from territorial animals, so our instincts tell us to keep others away from our stuff.
Then again, our instincts tell us to do a lot of things, but being human sometimes involves resisting. This is one of those times. They've got excess trash, and you've got room in your bin. So what's the big deal? The truck takes it all away within a few hours, and nobody knows the difference.
I agree that it would be polite if your neighbors asked your permission. On the other hand, they probably don't have a master plan about using your bin. When they see that their bin is full on trash day, they freak out and dash over to yours. It could happen to anyone whose bins occasionally overflow. (Guilty as charged, your honor.)
But if you just can't summon up the magnanimity, Refuse-nik, then I'd suggest buying bungee cords. Use them to seal your bin when you roll it out the night before pickup, and leave them on until just before the trucks come in the morning. The perpetrators will be foiled, because removing the cords would surely seem like too much of a violation, even for them. And they probably won't make the connection that you're doing this to keep them off your property.
Good bungee cords make good neighbors.