Recycling the blues with useless bins
I think "irony" is the word to describe the fact that now that the mayor has scrapped curbside recycling, those ugly blue recycling bins that the city foisted off on 50,000 residents cannot even be recycled. I think the word is "irony." But it might be "stupidity." Or even "insanity."
For more than a year we've been forced to look at these lonely blue sentinels standing along our roadways, stark testament to good intentions winning out once again over practical realities. Hey, kids! Let's set up a curbside recycling program! Here! Take this butt-ugly eyesore and keep it empty out in front of your house for a year! Hey, kids! Let's pass a bottle bill but then have no place for people to turn in their empty bottles and cans to get their deposits back!
I'm warming up to "stupidity" over "irony."
Mayor Mufi Hannemann scrapped (you are supposed to use garbage-related verbs when discussing rubbish matters) the previous mayor's curbside recycling plan this week, saying that there were all kinds of legal problems getting in the way of implementing it. The city has no plans to take back the bins because it has no place to store them. So now thousands of residents are forced to provide shelter and care for an adopted blue recycling bin they didn't ask for and don't even own. I'm not one of the lucky ones, since my street is too narrow for the mechanical trash picker-uppers to work. But if I were stuck with one of the blue albatrosses, I'd demand the city pay me rent to keep its equipment on my property.
It turns out that even the city doesn't own the things. Through deft financial wheeling and dealing inconceivable to actual private business owners, government bureaucrats managed to lease thousands of the 64-gallon plastic barrels for $3 million even though the city had not even arranged for someone to pick up the trash. This is like leasing $5,000 hubcaps for a car you don't even own yet.
I'm warming up to "insanity" over "stupidity."
Look, recycling is a business, whether it involves assessing a deposit on cans and bottles to encourage people not to throw them away or setting up a system of curbside recycling of glass, plastic, newspapers and green waste. Just because it's good for the environment doesn't mean you should let the driving force behind the business be touchy-feely environmentalists who feel recycling should be as troublesome as possible to consumers and, by the way, profit-free.
When setting up a recycling BUSINESS, even one run by government, why not bring in some actual private business people to hear their ideas on how such a business can be run efficiently and profitably with the ultimate goal of making the islands better?
Someone who's actually run a business probably would have counseled that it is better to have a business plan that includes a detailed strategy to collect and process recycled goods BEFORE you start handing out the garbage cans and forcing people to pay bottle deposits.
As for what to do with those now useless blue bins, I suggest turning them upside down, cutting arm holes in the sides and eye holes in the front and wearing them as Halloween costumes. When someone asks what you are supposed to be, tell 'em you are the infamous eco-terrorist, Recycling-bin Laden.
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org