April 08, 2005

Gross But True Segment: 82% of Chattanoogans Don't Use Curbside Recycling Program

Meeting Conducted by Local Family Regarding Household Waste Management:

Man, was it hard, but we did it. Thanks for all your help everyone! We couldn't have folded down our cereal boxes, washed out our milk cartons and placed them into plastic bags without all your muscle and effort. I don't know what we would have done with those cans either if it hadn't been for your participation. Now, for those of you that carried the bags to the end of the driveway on Thursday morning, I want to specifically recognize each of you with a cookie. That's right. You tell me you did something which you think is difficult and I ask you "do you want a cookie for that?".

It does take a little effort to get into the habit of recycling, sure. It's just a bit more complicated than taking out the garbage because of those moments spent rinsing and folding. But you would think that in a town like Chattanooga, Tennessee, blessed with close-knit families and involved communities that consider their children and grandchildren to be their highest priority, it wouldn't be a stretch to find them looking out for the future of the land on which they live. Well, I guess it is though... it's a gigantic, back-breaking, impossible stretch for 82% of the residents.

And when you think about it, even if you don't care at all about overflowing landfills and other environmental issues, is it really all that hard to put your recyclables into a Wal-Mart bag and take them to the end of your driveway? The current program is not strict on crushing, folding-down, separating or even rinsing. For free, they collect once a week -- right in front of your house. That's right, 82% -- just don't do it.

Because of the lack of participation, the city will no longer recycle glass for us and if you want the trucks to come by your house, you have to sign up. (That's right, before the city got fed up, it was completely free (minus taxes of course) and you didn't even have to sign up). I guess it could be a lot worse. They could have ditched the program altogether. I'm not a business model expert, but 18% seems like a pretty good number to say "let's can it".

Unfortunately, I have not yet disciplined myself to be one of the spritely guardians of Mother Earth that I should be, and by no means am any closer simply by taking advantage of this particular obscenely obvious and painless ways to help out. Being part of the 18% is only the very least that we can be doing.


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