Recycling Done Sustainably
I’ve never been an environmentalist. I see the movement as long ago hijacked by hysterical doomsday cultists predicting the demise of our planet even as it keeps chugging along.
If you don’t believe me, check your history books for Thomas Malthus, who predicted we would all starve to death a couple centuries ago. Didn’t happen.
Yet, in a surprising twist of fate, I recently turned into an avid recycler. To tell the truth, it was my wife’s willingness to push down the paperwork trail and then contact the city when they failed to credit our initial payment to the recycling company that made the difference.
But now that she has followed through, I have been amazed by the mounds of “stuff” no longer going in our trash can. The volume is so much lower that some weeks we don’t bother to set out the trash; one week there weren’t any bags and on another it was only one.
We didn’t participate in a previous, county-wide version of recycling, whose demise came after a grant funding operational costs expired. Then, a year or so ago discussions arose over a city-sponsored version.
Finally, the city said that if at least 800 residents signed up, they would arrange a pick-up service. The trick here is that one must adopt a socially conscious attitude to participate, as it costs $10 a month to recycle. Since that earns you a $5 break on monthly trash pick-ups, it only adds $5 to one’s outlay. But still, paying more to generate less trash?
There’s a major advantage to the program here that outweighs others I’ve observed elsewhere: a one-can-fits-all system.
Plastic, cardboard, paper, soda cans, or whatever, no need to separate anything. Just dump them in the humongous container the company provides and every other Friday, it gets picked up.
In recently discussing this with friends, I remarked on seeing various cities where recycling materials had to be subdivided into several cans for paper, another for plastic, another for glass, and so on.
“If you’re going to make it that difficult, chances are most people aren’t going to do it,” I remarked. “I know I wouldn’t.”
Sustainable Recycling Program
It is a tad ironic to consider municipalities whose multi-can system turns recycling into a challenge of epic proportions. They fly in the face of two modern buzzwords: scalable and sustainable.
The recycling program we signed up for last year meets both criteria. It’s something that can be done by everyone, both now and far into the future. It’s possible and because it’s possible, it’s something that can be sustained.
An epic example of something that couldn’t last is the big-box store just across the Ohio River that tried setting out large dumpsters where residents could drop off paper, plastic and other items.
Not only did many area residents turn that into a substitute for paying for garbage service, the overflowing mounds of junk that accumulated around it got the effort canceled.
So while coal-rich West Virginia has never been in the vanguard of environmental consciousness, it is interesting that a municipality here is showing the eco-aware crowd how recycling should be done.