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ParisCope: Monsieur Poubeille and Street Cleaning Snooze

ParisCope: Monsieur Poubeille and Street Cleaning Snooze

Nov 29th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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ParisCope: Monsieur Poubeille and Street Cleaning Snooze

NPR on Sunday had an interesting bit about Parisian street cleaners and garbage collectors...including some dramatic changes in the past few years:

...There is a street cleaning/garbage collecting school in Paris where all the workers go for training - in it is a large portrain of a Monsieur Pourbeille (sp?), who lended his name to the French word for garbage can - pourbeille. It seems sometime in the 1800s he had a revolutionary idea for collecting garbage off the city's streets. Instead of just dumping everything in the middle of the street for garbage folk to later pick up, he mandated that garbage be dumped in bins, which would then be emptied - viola the modern garbage can, or pourbeille. This not only improved the smell of the streets immensely but improved health as well. (Note that many old cobbled streets in Paris have a gully in the middle - this was supposedly for the liquids from the garbage to run off - not sure this is true but that's what i've heard.)

...Ironically there are few public pourbeilles now in Paris...due to Operation Vigipirate, to combat terrorists' bombs being placed there. The ubiquitous pourbeille now in public spaces like train or metro stations is simply a low-cut cardboard box sitting on the floor. What goes around comes around!

TBC - More rivetting news on those traditional Parisian street sweepers, with their medieval looking rakes!
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 09:02 AM
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1. The name is Poubelle. The word for garbage can is poubelle.
2. The little cardboard box thing disappeared about 5 years ago. Now most public wastebins are clear plastic bags set into rings on a vertical post. The plastic bags are printed with the words "Vigilance. Cleanliness."
3. You will see very large circular solid wastebins in certain metro stations. These are reputedly completely bomb proof, and if a bomb goes off in one of them, the blast goes to the ceiling rather than slicing the bystanders to pieces. We have luckily not had the occasion to test them yet.
kerouac is online now  
Nov 29th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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Only in Paris ... last year I took a picture of one of those plastic bags that Kerouac mentioned. Someone had put a big bouquet of old, but still bright and colorful large flowers, upright in the bag. It looked like a huge clear vase.
Nina66 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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The NPR (National Pubic Radio in the U.S.) also said that the 7,000 street cleaners and garbage collectors are paid up to $30,000, get 8 weeks vacation and work 36 hour weeks - that these type benefits has seen a dramatic change in the street-cleaning workforce - now actually attracting ethnic French folks to manning the brooms and sidewalk-cleaning machines, whereas before it was near totally of African and Moslem immigrant men - women now tending the mops too for the first time on a wide scale.

They quote young French street cleaners who point out the benefits of working outside and decent pay and health coverage, etc.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Are they paid 30,000 Euros, or are they paid the equivalent of $30,000 US?
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 08:09 AM
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Said $30,000 (dollars) and full benefits.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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It is true that most of the garbage men are now ethnic French. When I first moved to Paris, nearly all of them were immigrants from Mali, so the salary and benefits have obviously changed.
Garbage collection in Paris is excellent -- it is picked up 364 days a year (not on May 1st). Every building now has 3 kinds of garbage cans -- one for metal, plastic and paper, one for glass, and one for everything else.
kerouac is online now  
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