The Walrus is old enough to remember a time when Americans weren’t too worried about the state of the environment. Open trash dumping was once quite common in the rural area where I was a walrus cub. It was a common, acceptable practice to burn flammable trash in the back yard, and to dump non-burnable items over a convenient hillside.
For what it’s worth, this was before Earth Day, back in the era when both companies and individuals had few qualms about polluting the environment. In some instances, such behavior was prompted by greed, while in others, it was a case of simple ignorance. In many cases, people who care passionately about the natural world just weren’t aware. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
Fortunately, we’ve come a long way from those dark days. We’re all a lot more aware today of the risks of damaging the planet. Reduce, reuse and recycle is a mantra for the modern age, a reminder to use our limited resources wisely.
The “Three R”‘ make a great, easy to remember pro-environment slogan. But recycling is too often one of those things that sounds great in theory, but can be complicated to put into practice. Glass has to be separated by colors, plastic by numbers, paper by type, cans by metal. And does the number on the milk jug means it can be recycled, or that it can’t? Then it’s necessary to gather the recyclables into containers, store them until an opportune time, and make a trip to the designated drop-off points.
That’s not to say it can’t be done, obviously. Many individuals and families are committed to doing the right thing, and diligently follow the rules. But make no mistake, it does require a commitment, one that some people either can’t or are not willing to make.
Now comes exciting news for MetroWalrusLand. Curbside recycling is here, starting next week. We all have wheeled bins, the same size as our city-issued trash containers for collecting recycling. The city (actually, a contractor hired by the city) will collect each household’s recycling items on trash pickup day every week.
So far, so good. We’ve just eliminated the need to haul recyclables from Chateau Walrus to the pickup point. That alone vastly increases the convenience factor, and is likely to significantly improve participation. But wait, it gets even better.
The new bins require NO sorting. Glass of all colors, newsprint, phone books, cardboard, aluminum, plastics numbered 1 through 7, even steel, all go into the same bin. Wheel it out to the curb on trash day and presto, you’re recycling. The program doesn’t increase costs for residents and is even projected to save the city money through reduced landfill fees, fewer employees (reduced through attrition) and even the reduced need for garbage trucks.
Hmmm. Although the Walrus is a big fan of Kermit the Frog, it could be that the famed amphibian was wrong about one thing: maybe, just maybe, it IS easy being green.