Garbage collection and sanitation are one of the most critically important aspects of managing a city. As the world's population grows bigger and bigger, so too does the amount of waster we produce, which ultimately has to end up somewhere.
Few cities in North America are as painfully aware of this as the Canadian city of Toronto, which has a massive infrastructure full of millions of people, and a perpetually-present garbage problem. Not only does the city produce tons of waste every year, but it seems to have a problem with giving its sanitation workers the working conditions they desire: city garbage collectors have gone on strike several times in the last few decades, often leading to weeks where the garbage piled several feet high on the streets.
Always looking for ways to try to solve its ever-present sanitation problems, the city was actually in talks to have their garbage shipped to the small Boston Township south of Kirkland Lake, and dumped into an abandoned mine, which would become a landfill. The plan was going forward, but was stopped in part by, of all things, a particular episode of The Simpsons.
In the long-running cartoon's 200th episode, "Trash of the Titans," Homer Simpson becomes Springfield's sanitation commissioner after making a bunch of lofty promises that he can't possibly keep about the town's garbage collection.
After blowing his entire year's budget in a month, he solves their financial crisis by letting other cities dump their garbage into Springfield's old abandoned mine. This works... until garbage begins to spring up throughout the city, and the town has to be evacuated.
This episode of the show was shown by members of the Toronto City Council to those who were approving the plan to move the city's garbage. "It was absolutely stunning," councilor Jack Layton told The Globe and Mail. "It was so accurate to what was going on."
The plan was ultimately scrapped, though Toronto continued to ship its garbage to the state of Michigan, until that deal was repealed in 2006.
Has The Simpsons ever changed your life in a significant way?