Monday, October 13, 2008

Love Your Island

The monthly Bahama Village Community meeting last Thursday night wasn't very well-attended, but the invited guest speaker, Chris Belland, chair of the Chamber Commerce's Clean & Green Committee, bravely soldiered on and delivered an informative presentation built around the web site and film that he helped to create, called Love Your Island. The website contains a lot of good information about the things that are polluting our island, the Keys, the country and the world. There are four other videos at the site that are each interesting and informative on their own way.

He said that he expects a mandatory recycling ordinance to come before the City Commission this year. One statistic he mentioned (that I'd heard before) is that less than 10% (I think that it's 4-6%) of the waste stream from Key West is recycled. Belland compared that with the city of San Francisco's rate of 75% in what is certainly a more complex problem than this little village of about 24,000 waste generators.

We joined the recycler brigade here about three months ago and now have three bins to put out every Sunday night, one for glass and metal, one for plastic and one for paper. Between us and the tenants, we fill two of each of the bins every week, and sometimes put out an extra at the rental properties.

Belland opined that the mandatory recycling will also bring forth single-streaming, which means that all recyclables will go into single containers, separate from the trash that gets trucked out of the Keys to huge landfills on the mainland. The recyclable go to a separate Waste Management recycling facility where it is further processed for recovery and resale. In fact, Waste Management treats recyclables as a business opportunity, marketing recovered materials to a variety of consumers -- aluminum to aluminum producers, glass to paving material manufacturers, etc.

Belland took on the chairmanship of the Chamber committee, he says, ".. because no one else wanted it.", and he's done a bang-up job of it. He is to be commended.


Webmaster AKC 1 said...

I'm a little puzzled over what one says to the many who dutifully sorted their trash and carried those blue containers out to the street once a week over the last fifteen years..."sucker"?

Conchscooter said...

To significantly increase the percentage of the waste stream sent to recycling one needs the backing of bars and restaurants who resolutely refuse to do it. Recycling bins need to be seen in public places alongside trash cans. And attitudes that treat recyclers as suckers need to be reviewed. Without education recycling, never mind first reducing and re-using, is never going to take off. I have been recycling without giving it much thought for 15 years, but the notion that landfills are bulging is a novel one to many people.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for recycling but what's the "cost" here? Another business means more vehicles on the road creating a larger carbon footprint. People recycle when the economic gain is greater than the cost. It's still cheaper in the long run NOT to recycle and the environmental impact just might be less harm.

Webmaster AKC 1 said...

Carting recycled stuff out of the Keys doesn't necessarily create a larger "carbon footprint," since all our trash now has to go out anyway.
I do feel somewhat sorry for all the dutiful types (including me) who actually accepted the blandishments of those "in charge" and thought we were doing something good for the environment by recycling (until one of the commissioners set me straight a few years ago: they don't really recycle it.)
What works better than education in getting people to recycle (not that education isn't an important component of the task) is tweaking the system to the point where it's actually cheaper to recycle, e.g. the 5 cent deposit on beer and soda bottles in most New England states and Michigan.

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