Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day falls on this weekend. I've been waiting a couple of months to post an article that I found especially relevant. It is a reprinting of a Sunday New York Times by John Tierney from 1996 that I have a copy of myself.

Some fun bits from the story:

Plastic packaging and fast-food containers may seem wasteful, but they actually save resources and reduce trash. The typical household in Mexico City buys fewer packaged goods than an American household, but it produces one third more garbage, chiefly because Mexicans buy fresh foods in bulk and throw away large portions that are unused, spoiled or stale.

A. Clark Wiseman, an economist at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., has calculated that if Americans keep generating garbage at current rates for 1,000 years, and if all their garbage is put in a landfill 100 yards deep, by the year 3000 this national garbage heap will fill a square piece of land 35 miles on each side.
This doesn't seem a huge imposition in a country the size of America. The garbage would occupy only 5 percent of the area needed for the national array of solar panels proposed by environmentalists.

EVERY TIME A SANlTATlON DEPARTMENT CREW PICKS UP A load of bottles and cans from the curb, New York City loses money. The recycling program consumes resources. It requires extra administrators and a continual public relations campaign explaining what to do with dozens of different products- recycle milk jugs but not milk cartons, index cards but not construction paper. (Most New Yorkers still don't know the rules.)

Recycling programs didn't fare well in a Federally financed study conducted by the Solid Waste Association of North America, a trade associationfor municipal waste-management officials. The study painstakingly analyzed costs in six communities (Minneapolis; Palm Beach Fla.; Seattle; Scottsdale, Ariz; Sevierville, Tenn., and Springfield, Mass.). It found that all but one of the curbside recycling programs, and all the composting operations and waste-to-energy incinerators, increased the cost of waste disposal.

Does a 5-cent deposit on a soft-drink can help the environment? Mandatory deposits encourage recycling and reduce litter, but these programs typically spend $500 for every ton of cans and bottles collected, which makes curbside recycling look like a bargain. States without mandatory deposits -like Texas and Washington-have proven that the most efficient way to reduce litter is to hire clean-up crews, which pick up a lot more than just bottles and cans.

Recycling newsprint actually creates more water pollution than making new paper: for each ton of recycled newsprint that's produced, an extra 5,000 gallons of waste water are discharged.


  • At April 23, 2005 6:35 PM, Blogger Craig said…

    Our local Green Party-endorsed candidate for Mayor announced at her kick-off press conference that she'll push to increase the rate of recycling in the City.

    Can't wait to ask her why a broke town should spend even more money to collect the garbage.

    She'll answer that it will help save the Earth -- I'll respond that charity starts at home.


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