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Getting trashed

To the editor,

I completely agree with Lezlie Lowe's statement in last week's paper ("Indecent disposal," October 5) that the real motivator the city needs to use to make people recycle/ compost is money, not shame (because most people don't have much of either).

I am originally from PEI, where waste management is ingrained into daily life in a way that we could only wish to implement in the rest of the country. All households and businesses must separate compost, waste and recyclables (glass, tin, plastic in one blue bag, paper/cardboard in another).

There are a couple of levels of persuasion used to encourage citizens and businesses to comply. A first offence may bring a warning sticker on the bin, second offences may get a sticker and a small fine, but after the third offence the waste collectors do not take the waste. The owners must pay to have it hauled to the dump themselves or deal with the consequences of uncollected refuse (not pretty, trust me!).

I really don't think clear garbage bags will change anyone's way of handling garbage. If you want people to do something, there has to be a meaningful consequence for their not doing what you want them to do.

The other thing I noticed on moving to Halifax is that all of the waste containers are green. How are you supposed to know which is for waste and which is for compost? PEI's containers are black for waste and green for compost: no confusion over which one to use for what type of garbage. This is especially important for apartment buildings with several users.

I admit I don't compost anymore. I tried when I first moved here—it was habit, after all. But I found I would put my compostable waste into an empty (green) bin and someone else in the building (unaware of what I was trying to do) would put waste in the same bin. Even one piece of waste in that ambiguous looking green bin by default makes it a waste bin again! I couldn't win, so I eventually gave up. I often wonder how many others have done the same thing.

I'm sure lots of money was spent on the green bins around town, but without clear labels to indicate the different uses of the bins you might as well just go back to the old Oscar-the-Grouch-style trash cans. If someone could find a way to clearly label them all, I believe composting would increase in this city. I know I'd do it!

By Wendy Ramsay

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