Posted by: brian | January 31, 2008

Use our landfills, or we’ll sue!

More enviro news out of California. I heard the tail-end of this on “As It Happens” last night, so was intrigued to learn more. Eddie House of San Carlos, CA, has cancelled his trash collections service because he found that he could recycle or safely dispose of everything himself. Now the city is suing him, seeking a court order to make him not only reinstate weekly pick-ups, but also to reimburse the city for attorney and court fees. It doesn’t get much dumber than this. Mr. House went so far as to propose bi-weekly collection as a compromise, but no, that wasn’t good enough for the fat cats down in city hall.

I’ve been wondering myself for quite a while why we don’t recycle more. At my house we have a huge trash can that, each week, goes to the curb accompanied by a much smaller bin for recyclables. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? So much of the stuff we consider “trash” can be recycled – why not change “trash collection” into “recycling service.” Shift the paradigm, people, and use the clutch! Even better, remove the onus of sorting from the customer – many a time I find myself wondering, can this go in the recycling? And as often as not, if I don’t know, it goes to the trash. People are lazy, and there’s empirical evidence that, when confronted with a decision and a shortage of information, people take the path of least resistance. Make it easier, and more people will do it.

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