DEAR MISS MANNERS: Etiquette-wise, is it acceptable to use someone else’s trash bin? I have a neighbor who often, when passing by, throws away an empty water bottle, or a snack wrapper, inside my trash can. I guess trash is trash and it makes no difference whose bin it is, especially since the type of garbage in question is “innocuous” (nothing like dog’s waste or similar), and it surely would be worse if the neighbor littered instead of using a bin.
But still, every time this happens, I can’t help but feel irritated. What is Miss Manners’ take?
GENTLE READER: The courts have generally concluded that people’s interest -- both legal and philosophical -- in their own trash is limited, as evidenced by the fact that they threw it out. Miss Manners is inclined to agree, and to extend the ruling to the contents generally. So long as the neighbor is not causing the bin to overflow, to smell, or to draw attention in some other way, innocuous contributions would best be ignored in the interest of neighborliness.