Man honored for 50 years of garbage collection Skip to content

Man honored for 50 years of garbage collection

By Iceland Review

Thórólfur Valgeir Thorleifsson was honored by Mayor of Reykjavík Vilhjálmur Th. Vilhjámsson at a special ceremony yesterday, for having collected the city’s garbage for 50 years.

Thorleifsson began working as a garbage collector in Reykjavík in January 1957 at the age of 16. Garbage collection was not Thorleifsson’s first choice of vocation, he said, but he had quit school and didn’t have many other options. RÚV reports.

Garbage collection is a physically challenging job. It is estimated that every garbage collector walks 10,000 kilometers every year, nearly 40 kilometers on every working day.

Thorleifsson said the job was more difficult when he started out because garbage barrels were made of iron and so heavy two men had to carry them.

In those days garbage men were known as ash men. Houses were heated by coals, so a lot of ash ended up in the garbage.

Thorleifsson said he had been ashamed of his line of work when he first started out and had lied about it if someone asked what he did for a living.

Thorleifsson explained he had been lazy as a teenager and therefore he had quit school, but today he regrets his choice. Thorleifsson said he especially regrets not having learned any foreign languages, which he feels is important today.

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