Monsieur Poubelle

The word “poubelle” (meaning trash can) comes from the man who invented it – Eugne Poubelle. He was a bourgeois lawyer, administrator and diplomat from Caen who was the “préfet” of the Seine region of France devoted to introducing methods of hygiene at the end of the 19th century. On March 7, 1884, Mr. Poubelle decreed that owners of buildings must provide three covered containers up to 120 liters to hold household garbage, sorted into perishable items, paper and cloth, crockery and shells. There was resistance at first, due to the expense and the threat to the rag-pickers (“chiffoniers”). By 1890, “poubelle” had become a noun in the Universal Dictionary of the 19th century and “le monsieur” became a household word. (Source/credit: ParlerParis)

In Paris, the street sweepers wear green uniforms, but on La Côte d’AZUR (the blue coast), fashion here dictates a combination of green and blue, bien sûr.  I’m always amused at the old-fashioned brooms, which can also be made of green nylon (color coordination), but after observation, they really seem to work well for gathering all the bits and pieces of street trash and leaves.

What do street cleaners/sweepers wear where you live?

6 thoughts on “Monsieur Poubelle

  1. Interesting etymology. Thanks for sharing this. In Paris as you said, they wear green. I call them “the little green men”…as there really aren’t very many women doing this job.

  2. I never knew that about the origin of the word! Thanks for sharing….

  3. Mary-James says:

    Great post Kim. The beginning of recycling. They were also the first to recycle paper….le petit journal….another recycle story for another day

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