My lovely city is trying to introduce a “pay-as-you-throw” garbage program. If it passes residents will be charged $1.00 per 33 gallon bag of trash and $0.60 per ‘tall kitchen’ trash bag. Now, on the surface that sounds sorta kinda ok but a 33 gallon trash bag is only 3 gallons larger than your average black Hefty bag. So, basically, they want you to throw away 1 or maybe 2 Hefty bags of trash away a week. They reason, if you have to do this, you’ll recycle more.
Details can be read here
For myself, I recycle all of the time. Every week I put out at least one probably 15-20 gallon trash bin of recyclables. I freely admit it, I put my soda bottles on the curb rather than letting them pile up and taking them back to the store for the nickel deposit. Why bother? They’re recyclable. They should be put on the curb. This way the Great State of Connecticut gets to keep my nickles for its beleaguered coffers. I’d put out more recycles material every week but, for some odd reason, New London only passed out these tiny bins
They did it sooooo long ago, to be honest, I can’t remember when they did it although some residents are pegging it “the 80s”. Thirty years ago. Needless to say it never held very much and oh, yeah, you can’t get a replacement bin from the city.
Meanwhile surrounding towns have these lovely beauties
They match the regular trash can in size and they go with the fancy trucks we purchased not that long ago. You know, the ones with the mechanical arms that grab that bar, lift it up, dump it into the truck, then put it down. Because, we wouldn’t want the garbage man to have to pick that up. Each of us were given one of those garbage cans. One. Granted, the new garbage cans did make life a little easier because they have that nice lid and they’re heavy which meant the critters couldn’t get into it or topple it over anymore causing the homeowner to run all over the place picking up trash. Of course, for the first few years, it also meant said critters were seen everywhere at least in my part of town as they scavenged for food that was no longer readily available. It was a bit of a pitiful sight.
If I had that big blue recycle bin I’d certainly use it, most people I know would use it and be damn happy for it. But, instead of being intelligent and realizing what the city actually has is not a ‘recycling problem’ but rather a ‘I don’t have enough space to recycle problem’ they want to charge us to pick up our trash. Keep in mind that, yes, this is an expense that’s figured into our less than stellar taxes. The one small glimmer here is that all of those non-profit and not-for-profit places that don’t already have private garbage collection in place will finally have to pay something for a city service. And we have a lot of those kinds of places. So many that we now have a tax base of less than 50%. It’s difficult for 50% of the population to shoulder the burden for 100% of a town’s needed services, don’t you agree? So, first and foremost, we might like to look into that problem and put a stop to it. Just a thought.
If you read the article you’ll see how great some people think this is as they compare New London to Stonington. Wait a second. New London has a population of 27,000 people. Stonington has….900. Others have compared New London to Brattleboro, VT which has a population of 12,000. Neither of those towns has the, um, unique difficulties (mentioned above) as New London has. So proponents of this idea trot in Worcester, MA population 184,000 and how ‘great’ the program is working there. Ok, but Worcester is a rather large city and the vast majority of its garbage is private pick up (you know, dumpsters businesses pay for) leaving the lowly resident to foot the bill for this. And, btw, they have a ton of private garbage collectors many of whom cater to said lowly resident and their business is booming. Perhaps many lowly residents of Worcester opted out of this ‘pay-as-you-throw’ thing finding private pickup to be less expensive. Again…just a thought.
It was one I immediately had upon hearing of this idea. Get the neighborhood together, go in on a dumpster, throw all our stuff in there and have it hauled it away as needed. Hell, I have a big yard, I’ll volunteer the spot to rest the dumpster. Because face it, I’m being kind here. There is a considerable amount of the population of New London who will just throw their trash in a business’ dumpster (I foresee many locks on those in the near future!) or in a convenient wooded location or just by the side of the road. They already do it with their ‘bulk items’ because the City no longer picks them up twice a year so why not with everyday trash as well?
Let’s go back to the problem again. All this does is shift the responsibility which rightly belongs to the city to the shoulders of the taxpayer. Now, should you be a taxpayer living in a home where as (in my personal case) it’s just two of you, it’s easy to buy a trash compactor and a plastic/metal shredder to reduce the burden this would place on us. If, however, you’re a young couple with a baby, well that baby can fill a 33 gallon trash can with diapers in just over a single week. That’s if you have one baby in diapers, Gods forbid you have twins! I know, I know, what you’re thinking; use cloth diapers. But a lot of daycare places won’t accept cloth diapers and consider them a ‘health hazard’ and rightly so. Who wants all that human waste hanging around every day until Mom or Dad comes to take it away?
What about those people who are stuck in a ‘sandwich’. They have young children, possibly babies, at home and they’re trying to take care of their aging parents? Oh, yeah, those aging parents may have ‘diapers’ of their own. What if you have a good income and want a large family so you have 3 to 4 kids all with voracious appetites? You could very easily end up spending an additional thirty to forty dollars a month just to have your trash collected, the trash that’s already figured into your tax payments.
Do you have a cat???? OMG! What do you do with the used kitty liter? It seems that may not be acceptable in this ‘pay-as-you-throw’ thing. How about a bird? It poops on the newspaper that lines its cage. Again, possibly not acceptable. My least favorite thing about this whole idea is that the bags we’ll have to buy appear to be rather clear bags so everyone in the neighborhood will be able to see your trash. Did you throw out a pregnancy test? Are you having your menstrual cycle? Did you use condoms? Do you have a medical problem you might not want the whole neighborhood to know about? What if you’re diabetic? What do you with the ‘sharps container’? My second least favorite thing about this whole idea is that they’re BAGS. You can either keep the trash right inside your house until it’s pickup day (maybe see below) or you can build your own bin outside and hope the critters mentioned above don’t get into it, rip it open, and leave you not only out $1.00 but scurrying around to pick up trash. Third least favorite; what if you work second shift? In that case, you’re likely to put your trash out on the curb before you go to work–you know the night before garbage pick up– and then you’ll come home to find it’s been ripped open and blah blah blah. Face it, no one on second shift is going to scramble themselves out of a sound sleep to greet the garbage man.
Proponents argue that this will ‘make people think about what they buy and how it’s packaged’. Really? When over half the country regularly shops on Amazon and everything Amazon ships comes in a cardboard box? Seriously? Not many people are willing to trade convenience for less trash. We’re not giving up the juice boxes our kids take to school or the bags our chips come in, the grocery store doesn’t even offer us paper bags for our veggies in the produce department, we’re not giving up our plastic grocery bags. Though that last is a good idea. I’d do it but I actually reuse those bags.
If you want to get serious about the garbage/recycling issue one needs to take it to the manufacturers and not the consumer. But this is America, gods forbid we put something like this on the shoulders of big business rather than the working class.
So, in summary, if the end goal is truly having people/businesses/non-profits/not-for-profits recycle more of their trash this is the obvious answer, the clear choice, the thing that will win the day and maybe Save the Earth in the process.
(And those are the small bags!)