Rubbish neighbours! Are you guilty of this bad bin etiquette?

It's time for some trash talk, people...

Bested only by the weather, 'the bins' always seem to be a hot topic of conversation among us Brits. There's the moaning about the wait between rubbish collections. The complaining about the council changing the bin day without warning, or people's inability to use a bin, or the nasty smells coming from the bin down the road... the list is endless.

But have you ever asked yourself if you're good bin-friendly neighbour? Well the waste experts at have – and there's plenty of bad bin etiquette going on up and down the nation. They're come up with a list of bad bin behaviour, and ways we can make waste less of a hassle.

1. You use your neighbour's bin without asking

Yellow brick wall mansion with white window and grey bin outside

(Image credit: TI Media Ltd)

It's all too tempting – there's no more space in your bin for rubbish, so you slyly shove it in next door's bin without asking first. RUDE! Maybe you think they won't notice, but they probably will, even if they don't say. The right thing to do is to knock on their door and explain the situation. They'll more than likely suggest you use their bin – and you can chuck things away with a clear conscience.

Conversely, if you see a neighbour's rubbish piling up, don't ignore it. If you have space to spare, ask them if they'd like to put it in your bin. That way, the street will look cleaner and the bags won't be out in the open, vulnerable to attacks from wildlife (see below).

2. You keep smelly rubbish at the front of the house

Pity the people walking past, retching at the unpleasant pong your bin is making. There's no need to stink up a fuss – instead, put potentially smelly rubbish in the back garden where no one can get a whiff of it. Or wrap it up carefully and take it to your local landfill.

3. You never bring your neighbour's bin in

Red brick wall house with white window and wooden cabin for dustbin

(Image credit: B&Q)


When you’re wheeling your bin back to your house and you see your neighbour’s standing at the kerb, do you ignore it? You meanie! It's good bin etiquette to wheel it back to the front of their house, at least. It it will take seconds and you'll be surprised how grateful they'll be – especially if they're elderly or have gone on holiday...

4. You don't ask someone to put your bins out when you go on holiday

If your neighbours have two weeks in the sun planned, offer to sort their bins whilst they’re gone. Then ask them to return the favour. Everybody wins, as smelly rubbish won't sit there rotting in the meantime.

5. You leave your bin lid open, or pile up bin bags beside it

Metal bin on green lawn and urban fox seating near bin

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

What are you thinking?! Seagulls love rubbish, and leaving it accessible like this makes it so much easier for them to attack. It's not just seagulls. Urban foxes, cats and squirrels – yes, squirrels – can't resist a good bin rummage either. If you don't want a street strewn with litter, buy another wheelie bin or ask a neighbour to share.

'In a typical street, there will be a mix of residents, many with varying working patterns who are unable to sort their rubbish bins for collection,' says Junk hunters founder Harsha Rathnayake. 'Elderly neighbours may be in need of assistance with their waste disposal as they may find it hard to move heavy bins.'

'To build good relationships with your neighbours, always offer help if you feel someone is struggling. Allowing surrounding households to use your bin if theirs is too full is also a nice gesture, as is offering to sort bins whilst a neighbour is away. These easy steps are simple to do and will help towards your area becoming a nicer, tidier place to live.'

And we say, don't waste this opportunity to become a better neighbour!

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.