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Malden Garbage Policy [Feb. 5th, 2010|03:29 pm]
sharonaf
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/tools/payt/index.htm

Guess what everyone neglected to tell us about Malden?

That's right, we have a pay-as-you-throw policy for garbage. Traash only gets picked up if it's in a blue bag that costs $1 (!!!). Recycling is free.

We will ignore the fact that last week on the City of Malden website it said up to 10 bags of trash/week will be picked up for free. Perhaps I somehow misread it.

We will also ignore the fact that while it would not have been a deal-breaker when it came to moving out here, I sure as heck would have liked to /know/ about this policy. Preferably before we'd been here for two weeks!

What we will discuss is my immediate and, I must admit, continued sense of outrage regarding this policy. How could they do this to us! We (will) pay taxes! We have a right to... and there's where I trail off. A right to? A right to waste, to dump things into landfills, to drill holes under our own seats on the boat? I've been an environmentalist for as long as I can remember. I've been using fabric grocery bags for nine years (since I began doing my own shopping), and have been taking small but significant steps in the last few months, including switching to cloth handkerchiefs and other things. I've also been pressuring Phillip to let me put the baby in cloth diapers. I resist raising the thermostat and try to turn off lights and unplug appliances when they're not in use. I try to use private vehicles as little as possible (and yes, this is one reason I don't yet have a driver's license). However, in certain regards I've been lazy: when a friend told me that many cities have composting centers where I could drop off any and all food-related waste, I thought, "Isn't that nice!" and started thinking maybe I'd try it someday. Lining baking sheets with aluminum foil makes it so easy to clean up after baking that I've been weak and rarely bake directly on the sheet anymore.

I'm ashamed to say that Pay As You Throw seems to be the kick I need. I am so outraged by the policy that I can't bear the thought of putting out trash, although I'm sure it will sometimes be impossible to avoid (cellophane wrappers from food, for one thing). Phillip finally gave in on the cloth diapers and I'm going to go order some now (BumGenius seems to be the top-of-the-line? And I found another company that makes far less attractive 'economy packs' all in white. I'm thinking an economy pack and then a few BGs for when she needs to look extra cute). I'll start cooking directly on baking sheets again (thank GOD I found this out after I made this week's cookies and bread! Although the breads themselves are in those wonderful rubbery loaf pans that don't stick at all, and only the rolls are on foil...) And I'm going to look up nearby composting centers. Oh, and Phillip can do what he wants but I'm going to pick up handkerchiefs for the kids. Even though I'm sure Shlomo will attempt to lose them as fast as he does mittens.

I'm ashamed, and my contrarian streak just HATES playing into the city's hands, but I have to admit this is a push I've been needing.

In other news, it's our second Shabbat here and the first since I kashered the stove and oven. Kept things simple, because it's been a rough week, too: bread, mock-beef roll-up (with a wonderful tomato-flavored dough I adore), carrots-green beans-walnuts salad, and cookies. Tomorrow, repeat of the same plus a chulent. I'm trying to restrain myself from randomly starting something else now. Potato kugel? Chocolate pudding cake? There's over an hour left till Shabbat and both kids are asleep, which is a story in itself and one I do not understand. If I'm smart I'll clean rather than cook.

I'm off to buy diapers (which had better not come in packaging that requires disposal!) and look up composting!

Have a great weekend, all.

-Me

PS I am OUTRAGED!
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: mabfan
2010-02-05 08:54 pm (UTC)
Good shabbas!

Brookline is looking to move to a pay-as-you-throw system as well.
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[User Picture]From: tovaks
2010-02-05 10:38 pm (UTC)
SHARONA! I LIVE TEN MINUTES FROM YOU!

Call me and we'll set up a time to hang out! I can't wait to meet the baby and see Shlomo now that he's so much bigger than he was the last time I saw him!
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[User Picture]From: sharonaf
2010-02-07 01:43 am (UTC)
Ooh, yay!
I don't know if I have your number. What's your email address? I'll send you ours! It'll be great to be neighbors!
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[User Picture]From: lordameth
2010-02-05 11:58 pm (UTC)
On an abstract level, this seems a great environmentalist policy, which takes into account basic laws of economics.. charging people money is one of the easiest and most direct ways to influence behavior. As I learned living in Japan, where they require you to sort your garbage into a whole bunch of different categories, hopefully, presumably, to be recycled, recyclables + compostable organic garbage actually compose a very large percentage of our garbage; actual garbage could be far far less. As an abstract example to be discussed in an environmental economics classroom, I think this a great idea, and wish it were implemented elsewhere.

(I wish we had curbside recycling here in Honolulu at all. grrrr.)

But, on the other hand, I think you are absolutely right to be outraged. You pay taxes, and you have a right to basic municipal services. Do the fire dept and police department charge you separately for their services? Do the street cleaners, postal service, and road repair services? No, it's included in taxes. And so should garbage pickup.

Admittedly, I've never dealt with this kind of stuff directly, but what really annoys me about this sort of thing is the way everywhere does things differently, especially in Massachusetts, and expects you to know the rules and customs, as it were. How were you supposed to know about these blue bags?
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[User Picture]From: sharonaf
2010-02-07 01:50 am (UTC)
In NY, we were required to recycle just about anything conceivably recyclable. The compostable organics I couldn't find an option for easily. And it really does take up a significant amount of our trash space: Shlomo insists on having his apples peeled, so there's that along with the standard orange peels and potato skins (and yes, I do sometimes leave those on, but not always) and onion skins and beet leaves (so sue me, I just can't think of them as food and haven't found any recipe with them that appeals to me) plus all the food a two-year-old will ask for over a day and then neglect to consume. (I have a rule about that by now, actually: if he asks for something and I give it to him, he must finish it before he gets anything else.)
That doesn't sound like all that much, actually. And yet somehow it does mount up.
I (will) pay taxes, yes. And I also want to think that garbage pickup should be included in that. And yet... I think everyone can agree that garbage is a Very Bad Thing, and discouraging it like this bothers me but is probably a good idea.
I mentioned to members of the community about the new bags, and they were horrified that no one told us. They're putting it into the 'Welcome To Malden!' packets from here on. Apparently the policy's been in place less than 18 months and the packets need an overhaul. ;-)
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[User Picture]From: modernmorland
2010-02-06 03:52 pm (UTC)
It's one thing to be voluntarily environmentally-conscious. It's entirely another to be forced to be "environmentally-conscious" by the local government. I'd like to know what they use all your blue-bag dollars for. I think you're perfectly right to be upset. Does it also apply to businesses, who might be unable to significantly reduce the amount of trash they create?
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[User Picture]From: sharonaf
2010-02-07 01:55 am (UTC)
Regarding being forced to be environmentally-conscious, I do keep thinking of the man in the boat who's drilling a hole under his seat. The other passengers jump up and say, "What are you doing?! We'll all drown!" and he replies, "It's only under my seat; it's no one else's business." Being environmentally-conscious shouldn't necessarily be a choice. We've only got the one world, and I'd like to live in such a way that if everyone did what I did, the world would be a sustainable place. Other people being environmentally insensitive is a huge problem for my future and my descendants' future, so on some level I should be invested in it. On the other hand, as a lower-case-l libertarian, I find my hackles rising at any hint of 'forcing' anything.
I'd also like to know where the blue-bag dollars are going. The website makes the laughable suggestion that this system makes it fair, because now people are no longer paying for their neighbors' trash disposal but only paying for what they themselves produce. I'd LOVE to see any suggestion that taxes went down when this program was instituted.
Apparently businesses and apartment complexes larger than 6 units have a different system, which still involves paying, but I don't know the details.
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[User Picture]From: debka_notion
2010-02-06 06:29 pm (UTC)
I think in the same situation, I too would be quite outraged. At the same time, I think it gives you a pretty exciting opportunity to reshape your habits- as you are clearly exploring.

As far as the baking sheet go- you can get sheets of Silpat (I'm pretty sure that's what it's called) that roll up, and then roll out on your cookie sheet- serves the same use as the tin foil, but is re-usable and non-stick in some snazzy way.

Starting a compost pile in your yard, if you have one, might also both cut down on trash and provide you with really awesome soil if you ever decide to do any gardening. It also doesn't require taking your food-waste on a separate trip to wherever the town drop-spot is. The only thing is not to include most animal-related food waste: milk, butter, meat scraps...

Good luck with all the changes, it sounds rather overwhelming...
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[User Picture]From: sharonaf
2010-02-07 01:59 am (UTC)
Meat ain't a problem, but milk might be.
We have a yard, but we're just the tenants, and the landlords think we're crazy as it is, with our leaving lights on on Shabbat and getting awkward when they offer us home-made cake.
Sil-pat, eh? I'll keep my eyes open. I have a nonstick rolling mat which I adore and use frequently for challah and lachmagine and pie crusts and hamentaschen, so if these are similar I'm sure I'd like them as well. It's annoying as all get-out to wash and store in a clean manner, however. (At this point I tend to assume that the bottom is permanently unclean, because one side will always be touching something, and I fold it in half with the inside pressed against itself before rolling it up. It's annoying.)
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[User Picture]From: jakal88
2010-02-10 05:53 pm (UTC)
Perhaps trivially, what struck me is the number of garbage bags that will (not) be picked up for free. Ten bags a WEEK? Admittedly I'm only one person (and an adult person at that), but I go through MAYBE two bags a month. Does the standard nuclear family of four really produce 20x more garbage than I do?
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[User Picture]From: sharonaf
2010-02-10 10:08 pm (UTC)
Up to ten bags for a 1- to 6-unit residential complex. ;-) I hope that changes things slightly?
Two bags a month is pretty good, though. Do you have a really good recycling program? Or really big bags?
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