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Garbage and Green Jobs: The Carrot or The Stick?

June 16, 2009

Dawn Disrupted

I woke this morning, the first day of my staycation to the sound of garbage trucks making their way down my street.  It was a great feeling to know that even though my trashcan was not out on the street I could roll over an go back to sleep instead of getting out of bed and rushing to get it out there in time.  Our trash had been collected the week before and now our trashcan was only about a quarter full.  Then a thought came into my head: if everyone on my street would have reduced their garbage production over the last couple of weeks by composting their yard and kitchen waste and brought their recycling to the nearest collection station then those garbage trucks could have skipped our street this morning and I could have been awakened a half hour later by my kids playing in my son’s room.

Garbage Truck

What, you ask has this to do with Green Jobs?  Well, if more people would compost their kitchen scraps then the demand for compost bins, compost tumblers, kitchen compost pails/crocks, worm bins, and red wigglers would go up.  Furthermore, if everyone were to recycle more, the cost of recycled goods would theoretically go down and subsequently the demand for recycled goods would most likely go up.  Thus, we could replace noisy, sleep disrupting garbage trucks and operators with jobs creating more composting products and products made of recycled materials and possibly lower our taxes at the same time.

Trash Cans

Meanwhile the city of San Francisco decided last week to force every citizen to separate their recycling and compost from their trash.  Every week city employees will have to empty three garbage cans from each household: one for garbage, one for recycling and one for composting.  It seems to me that San Franciscans should be prepared for a tax hike, that is, if the fines levied to those that are not compliant don’t cover the added cost of collecting three bins instead of two, or even of one.  Instead, I suggest that municipalities reward those of us who manage our recycling and compost, and who only put our trash cans on the street once every three or four weeks with tax rebates, while charging extra to those that set two trash cans out every week.  In short, I suggest that it would be best for the government to encourage personal responsibility and use a carrot and not a stick to create more green jobs.


Dan Bossenbroek

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