Saturday, November 3, 2007

recycling ethics

K has a post cooling its heels in the "Draft" penalty box, but until he decides it's fit for general consumption, I thought I'd kvetch about something that has been chipping my paint for some time.

If you're an early riser -- and certainly if your desk looks out onto the street and you try to get a little work done in the quiet of early morning -- you have probably noticed the unprepossessing characters wandering from bin to bin, armed with a garbage bag or shopping cart, into which they toss all the recyclables that can be brought in for cash.

I'm of two minds about this. On one hand, rummaging through trash isn't a fun activity, and if these folks are that down on their luck, then I don't begrudge them the 13¢ they net from our recycling (most of which is paper and wine bottles).

On the other hand, the value they scavenge is taken not from us but from the city; our 13¢ presumably offsets the cost of the recycling program. A recycling program that loses more money than necessary is a bad thing, but a recycling program that is shut down because everything of value is plundered in the dim of dawn, that's a tragedy.

Whaddaya think -- should I sit out on the porch like Granny Clampett[1], rocking, chawin' on my corncob pipe, and shooting at the scavengers with my 30-06?

[1] Yes, I know Granny wasn't a Clampett but a Moses. But if I'd said "Granny Moses," you'd have thought I planned to throw paint at them.


Neil said...

Its a toss up, on the one hand I can see your point about them scavenging and it not being pleasant, on the other hand I really dont appreciate the 9:00pm Monday raids on our trash cans by the family in the Astro van. They go down each street, put their emergency lights on, and four kids jump out with their two parents and literally tear the trashes apart on Jefferson, recyclable trash and regular, leaving heaps of trash on the ground and scaring the heck out of me every time I hear them until I look out the window. Im all for making extra money if your down and out, but I would gladly give these people a buck a week for them not to tear my trash apart. And not to put too fine of a point on it, but the last time I checked litering is illegal and bad for the environment too!

meg said...

Okay, those folks would piss me off for real. They don't hit our street; instead, we have 5am sad sacks. And the sad sacks don't litter, either; sometimes they'll even pull things out of the garbage and put them in the recycling (correctly). I suppose I should be grateful for what I've got.

Wanna borrow my 30-06?

Ed said...

I can't write this one w/o smiling, because the only solution is enforcement, but I can't bring myself to call the police over stealing trash. I should, but I can't. Any Block Captains out there want to report this to the Police for us?

To avoid the need for confrontation, I've started pulling the thing out at 6AM. To Paula and Fred, I do apologize and I hope your bedroom is on the other side of the house.

Garrett Sawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garrett Sawyer said...

Neil- wow, I never realized that family had such a large scale operation, I've spotted them on numerous occasions on my block in south Pomona (waters ave.). They have flashlights and all...Now I don't mind the occasional old lady with her shopping cart but those people with their vans and flashlights, it's like their having a block party. I was reading the Pomona newsletter and saw that that kind of activity was illegal and there was a number to call so one night I got fed up with them and went to the back of their van and copied down their license plate number and wrote down the vehicle description. I never intended on calling on them unless they came back the next week. They saw me by their van copying the plate # down and they looked at me with confusion hold their flashlights, I have not seen them around here since. That was back in November sometime. The unfortunate part is, they're probably just doing it in another area now. I suggest doing the same if they still come around. I think the van/family operations usually only occur around the holiday season though. The shopping cart rummage’s are a year-round occurrence however.