Friday, November 16, 2007

Recycling rescued once again!

The Dumpster Diving Ruckus, brought to a frothy boil by Charlie Rex for the second time (didn't he learn anything from the reaction the first time?), was once again proof of just how entertaining borough assembly meetings can be. There was one creepy episode, when a self-proclaimed prophet started talking about how his master Yahweh was going to kill the assembly members who were trying to take this opportunity from him and his kids. Otherwise, though, it was very interesting. There were a ton of well-spoken people and some very good suggestions, and over and over the point was made that junk stockpiling is not going to be stopped by preventing recycling via dumpster diving.

Nobody seemed to think that identity theft was an issue the borough should concern itself with in this way, and that people should know better than to toss their private info in a public place in the first place. One person even pointed out that the presence of scavengers at the transfer sites helped remind people that their trash becomes public after they throw it away, and thus acts as a deterrent to unthinking revelation of identity details. Several people talked about the shredders (in working condition!) that they'd found at the recycle platforms or in the dumpsters (a nice little irony).

Many people spoke of how much dumpster divers were removing from the waste stream and thereby saving the borough loads of money. One fellow talked about the business he had making cans from recycled metals. He's going to be able to retire on it.

A few people talked about the junk in their neighbors' yards, and pointed out that the borough wasn't willing or able to do anything about them, and that the dumpster-diving ban wouldn't do anything to change that situation. Junk piles and hoarding will happen, they pointed out, whether people take things from the dumpster or no, and also, one doesn't ordinarily find old cars and trucks in dumpsters.

The News-Miner seems to have its head on straight about this issue this time, and Chris Eschelman, who's been covering it for them, has done a good job in the articles I've seen (although his first sentence in the latest bugs me--"a vocal mob"?). Front page news above the fold in one of them! Lots of Esteroids got quoted, but there was also a lot of support from all over the borough for recycling.

Among the practical suggestions made were:
1. More recycle platforms: have 'em at every transfer site. This makes a ton of sense to me. Ester's probably got a higher per capita population of recyclers than anywhere around here except maybe Goldstream or Two Rivers. Yet, because our population is lower than, say, Chena Pump, we don't have a recycle platform. Whose bright idea was that? If you want to encourage recycling rather than diving, make it easy!
2. Better signage: inform people where stuff might be placed, warn of the risks of diving and the big trucks, etc.
3. Bigger recycle platforms with better spaces for putting things, perhaps a table or something for clothes.
4. Change the time of trash pickup from a high-traffic time (the middle of the day) to a night pickup or early morning, or close the transfer site for an hour while the trash is being hauled away--and post the time so that people can time their recycling pickup or dropoff accordingly.
5. Reconfigure the arrangement of the dumpsters so that drivers can more easily maneuver and thus reduce the danger to pedestrians.

A few people objected to the term "dumpster diving", but I like it, myself. There's an element of humor in it.

At the last, even Rex voted against his own proposal. The alternative proposal was also voted down. Good for the assembly.


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

OMG! The world has come to an end!!!!! The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has followed the wishes of it's constituents!!! The snowballs sure are piling up in hell now!

brittany said...

I kind of like "vocal mob," ... at least it is pretty original! (Even if it does conjure up a pretty interesting image of pro-divers rushing the podium en masse and screaming!)
I'm glad the borough asssembly made the right choice. It was kindof a no-brainer, if you ask me.