Thursday, January 05, 2012

Throwing it All Away

For the record I'd like to say that I, for one, cannot wait until Falmouth adopts a pay as you go trash disposal system. I think we should all sit on the floor and spill out the refuse in our trash cans aka Colin Beavan (Mr. No Impact Man himself) and really look at it.
Way back when - towns didn't collect garbage - and really why should they? Why is the town responsible for hauling away the styrofoam packaging from last night's take out? Way back when farmers had their own personal garbage piles on some remote corner of their property (Peter Rabbit's relations are always rooting around in it in the Beatrice Potter books remember?) There wasn't much in it, some composting newspapers, rotten rutabagas, shoe leather, and glass bottles.
Of course most of us don't live on farms anymore or have large enough tracts of land to accommodate our own personal Fresh Kills; and towns got in on the garbage collection action (wisely) in order to prevent diseases from spreading through cities and large towns when waste was left lying waist high in the streets.
I've heard the argument that pay as you go will create rampant littering but have you looked around lately? Look up in the trees and count the plastic bags, drive down Thomas Landers Road or Route 28 where the double lane highway ends as you approach town - litter is already rampant. People who don't recycle are just lazy - pay as you go isn't going to make them into illegal dumping criminals. If they haven't the energy to sort through their trash and separate, it what makes people think they'll have the energy to load it into their cars at night and drive around looking for a place to dispose of it? It's like the reusable bags. We aren't motivated to remember them because it's not costing us anything to forget them. Not yet at least.
In Sandwich this summer, where they already have adopted pay as you go, I saw more instances of people putting items in their front yards with sings on them reading "free." How great is that? Instead of throwing away something that could be useful to someone else - items are being offered up for free. Did everyone in Sandwich suddenly become altruistic, or by making it harder to throw stuff out (or more expensive) has the town given people incentive to consider (and take responsibility for) what happens to the stuff they throw out.
If it's easy. It's easy not to think about it.
Taking it a step further, why should our trash cans be laden with plastic twists ties, cellophane windows to cardboard boxes, the plastic clam shells that the batteries came in, the hard-to-remove plastic that tiny computer camera flash card come in - that you need the kitchen scissors to extract, not to mention what happens to larger items at the end of their life cycle, like TVs . The companies that make these products should be the ones to deal with all the trash that's created just by buying something and opening it up.
Maybe, when we're all left holding the bag (literally) we'll start holding corporations accountable. If corporations are recognized by law as having certain rights and responsibilities should they have to clean up the messes that they create?
After all, my kids have to clean up theirs.

song: Throwing it All Away • artist: Genesis


Gene Bourque said...

Well said, Joanne.

Joanne said...

Thanks Gene!

Anonymous said...

My mom mentioned this to me yesterday when she came to visit, asking what my town did. In the last year, the town I live in adopted a two barrel system, one barrel for trash that is picked up every week and one barrel for recycling that is picked up every other week. At first there was an outrage in our town saying it would never work, there would be trash everywhere, etc. But thankfully it has worked and we've saved the town in the last year hundreds of thousands on waste management. Before our town only recycled 15% and now that number is way up. Since we don't have a landfill to drive to, we just have to call ahead for larger items, but most people are using the Free sign or Freecycle to get rid of there items. As for electronics, Best Buy charges $10 and gives you a $10 gift card in return and our PTO at our school has been doing a electronic fundraiser where you pay them to get rid of the item and they make some money doing it.

Love your post!!

Joanne said...

Thanks Kelly! It's good to know pay as you throw is working in other communities. I think a lot of people who are opposed to it just don't like the idea of changing their way of doing things.