If you’re old enough to remember a time when people dared to leave the house in bell-bottom jeans, you’re probably also old enough to remember B.C.’s fabled, quirky roadside installations dubbed “Garbage Gobblers.”
The unique roadside garbage receptacles were created in the late 1950s by Len Shaw for the B.C. Parks Branch, according to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Gobblers were placed across the province in B.C. Parks and at information points along the province’s highways in order to “Keep Beautiful British Columbia Green and Clean” by encouraging people to properly dispose of trash.
At the time the Garbage Gobblers were installed, it was common to dispose of trash by simply tossing it out the car window, noted a commenter on a recent photo of Garbage Gobbler in a Facebook group dedicated to historic photos of British Columbia.
‘Junior Garbage Gobbler’ trash bags for cars were also part of the provincial litter reduction strategy. Motorists were encouraged to feed the “Junior” bags to the roadside gobblers along their travels.
However, the Gobblers turned out to be an ill-fated experiment, as they only ended up compounding the roadside trash issue.
Originally made from concrete and later with fiberglass, the Garbage Gobblers were designed with open backsides, attracting animals and causing large amounts of trash to pile up around them.
The Gobblers were replaced by the B.C. government with bear-proof canisters in the early 1980s.
Fortunately for enthusiasts of surreal environmental installation relics, a handful of vintage Garbage Gobblers can be found throughout the province. According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, there’s even one somewhere in Penticton.
Have you seen Penticton’s own Garbage Gobbler? If so, we’d like to know where he’s been hiding this whole time.