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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Decisions on Cleaning green Waste

By Jennifer

I am hosting an inner debate. My city recently announced a voluntary curbside green waste recycling program. I am excited the city is going this direction, in a move that will surely reduce the amount of waste
in the landfill. 

The problem? I'm not sure I want to join.

See, at the same time I want to support environmental measures, I also want to do what's best for my household. That means a different kind of green speaks loudest: money.

The city program will cost $6.50 a month for a 90-gallon green waste container that is collected once a week. Accepted green waste is lawn cuttings, clippings from bushes and shrubs, leaves and produce.
Collected materials will be made into compost. (I've yet to learn if that compost will be made available to residents.)

In my city your first trash container (black 90-gallon bucket) costs $11.50 per month, with any additional containers costing $8 a month.The city is pitching the green waste program as a cost-saving measure for those who replace a second black can with a green waste can. Current cost for two trash containers: $19.50. Cost for one trash container and a green waste container: $18.

Most households on my street have two black cans. Our home does not --even though our family of seven could easily fill two cans if I tookthat route (or cleaned under my teenager's bed)! Instead we've made
efforts to minimize our trash by recycling paper, cardboard andplastic; and by donating our outgrown clothing and other household items we no longer use.

With green waste in particular, we have traded lawn space for other plantings, and mulch the grass clippings right back onto the lawn instead of throwing them away. We make compost. We have lots of trees
whose leaves, come fall, go into our garden plot; we don't bag the leaves for garbage collection.

At the end of summer we do have a lot of green waste in profusion when we cut back perennial flowers and remove large vegetable plants. These items exceed our compost space, so we opt to take them to the green
waste collection point at the landfill. Cost is $5 a truckload. We generally make two or three trips.

All told, the green waste program would cost me $96 a year. Did I mention that green waste isn't collected Dec. 1 through March 31, but that the green waste container may be used for a regular trash can
then (which I don't need)? So make that $96 for eight months of green cleaning.

I'm torn. I applaud the city for starting this program and I want it to succeed, even if it doesn't make sense financially for me. Should I consider the cost to me an investment in the greater good of the
community? If I opt out will I forever feel guilty for every seedy dandelion (my compost no-no!) that I throw in the black bin? How badly do I want that 90-gallon green badge of honor on my driveway?

I'd love to hear your thoughts as well as learn about the green waste programs in your communities.




I do not like these forced programs. Soon, blue cans for recycled items will appear at my curb. This will be a third can I have to pay for. My recyclables will continue to go to charitable bins while I have to pay for this unwelcome blue bin. Further, I don't have room for the beast.

Why must I pay for a service to pick up items they will sell? I really wish this type of deal would be taken up by a charitable organization. Citizens could volunteer for the service. I now dread the fact that the downtrodden will be rummaging through the blue bins on the streets.

No. I'm against all of it.

Dree said...

Other than an interlude in an apartment, we have had black/blue/green bins in 2 different cities for over 15 years. We get all 3 for one price, and that price includes unlimited free bulk pickups (I have actually never used this service because old mattresses, a dumpy old stove, etc have been claimed by "the downtrodden" aka guys in trucks that take a whole load somewhere)--but I have called to have dumped furniture picked up out of an apartment alley. We have a backyard composter, but put weeds into our green bin, as well as Bermuda grass trimmings, because I don't want grass taking over my compost. But I would NEVER take city compost because of all the pesticides/herbicides I fear are in it.

We sell back any bottles/cans we accumulate. Our blue bin fills up with junk mail, junk phone books, shipped boxes, styrofoam, etc. I am completely unaware of any charity bins where I could put this. We do have people come through the neighborhood going through the cans--which the city says is illegal, but they refuse to enforce, so I feel they have no right to complain. And I am not convinced the city does sell off the plastics and paper that the scavengers collect.

But then, my great-grandfather WAS a scavenger when he came to the US from Italy. So I have a hard time insulting people who do the same thing that started my family's successful life in this country.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Wow- that's so interesting to read. I've never heard of such a program but think it's great to have offered.

So it seems that currently, your cost is @$15 (three trips) plus gas x three trips. How far is the place you take your green waste? When you factor in gas and time spent, would it make a difference? If not, I say stick with your current plan. You can always re-evaluate later, right? Just because you don't opt in today doesn't mean you can never opt in, I assume. On the other hand, if you are driving a long distance to take your three loads of green waste, this new program might be a win for your family.

And if you know this is ther and like it, please just ignore this comment but do you know you have the blury double word verification enabled for comments?


Kristina Seleshanko said...

It makes zero sense to pay to have the city take away things that you can easily compost yourself. Not only would letting the city take it cost you money, but it wastes energy.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I put things in a large bin and you would be surprised at how fast it sinks down and turns into useable compost. I put some rotting manure in to get things really cooking at first. I try not to have anything to do with government as it is so inefficient and people can do things better themselves.

Judy said...

My neighbor is a firm believer in composting her own leaves and grass back into her garden. She has the richest soil around. We do about half and half. If you use the compost then stick with what you are doing. I think there are lots of others who will be happy to use the green cans to haul away their trimmings especially if they are like us and don't have a truck or trailer.

Molly said...

We've had green bins around for years and years. I find it strange that people on here are even debating green and blue bins. While it's probably obvious that the readers of this blog garden and compost, think about all those people who do not. Those who would normally throw their yard trimmings into the trash. Or who won't make a special trip to dump their recyclables. If you don't need the green bin, don't pay for it. But there will be plenty of people out there who will be happy to send their green clippings off to be composted. I say don't knock the program. (Same goes for the comment about blue recycling bins above. I remember being appalled that there weren't recycling receptacles at any of the apartment buildings surrounding BYU when I went there 10 years ago. And none of us had cars to tote our recyclables elsewhere. Blue bins are a good thing for the people who need them.)

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