Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Recycling the City!

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Recycling may be good for the planet but it makes the city ugly. It’s a blight of visual pollution – a blight on its soul.

I just spent a couple of days in my old hometown – Toronto – and two things struck me…the garbage and the noise. But more about the latter, later.

Let’s start with the former.

Toronto streets and sidewalks are littered with city-mandated containers for the storage and disposal of the detritus of a Torontonian’s daily life. Boxes and bins, small, medium, large and industrial size clutters the curbs. Some of these blue, black, green, gray receptacles are filled to overflowing, spilling their unwanted waste out on and all over the neighbourhood. The piles grow bigger with the addition garbage bags, cardboard and boxes that don’t fit in the city provided containers, plus the old faithful plastic or galvanized garbage can. The raccoons must love it.

There’s a protocol to the position of the bins. They must be lined up close to the curb; specific distances apart so trucks, with specialized apparatus, can lift them, dump the contents and place them back on the sidewalk. Which, in theory, is a good idea. Except pickup happens during the morning commute and doesn’t account for parked cars. You can imagine what this does to narrow inner city streets. At least the ensuing tie-ups give the radio traffic reporters something to talk about.

Once emptied, the receptacles just sit or lie around. Usually until someone gets home form work. And it seems that the citizenry can’t be bothered to hide these bins. It helps if you have a garage. But in the older parts of Toronto they’re stashed on porches, side driveways, in the narrow spaces between row houses. Some of the bigger bins just sit on the front lawn. Smaller apartment buildings just leave them out front so tenants can fill them at will. In the trendy parts of town, the million dollar monster homes with their fancy landscaping aren’t exempt either.

Nobody seems to know what to do with these things. They’re soiled. They smell. They’re not pretty. They tell us this is what we must do to save the planet and keep the city from going further into debt. That’s all well and good. But garbage is garbage, no matter how you package it. And, like I said, it’s an ugly mark on the soul of the city.

In my simple part of the world, this hasn’t happened…yet

We have the regular blue and green recycling boxes.  We will be paying $1.50 per bag to a maximum of two bags per household, come June. If we have cardboard we take it to the landfill site (town dump). Any other household junk we load into our vehicles and haul it over a scale. We get charged. But it is convenient. The Boy Scouts have a giant composting site next door so anything organic and natural gets taken care of.

There were two sites. One closed recently. It was full. So, the other was expanded to handle the refuse of both towns. Surely a sign of things to come.

A short drive into the country will reveal homes with large lots littered with used up, rusted out cars, trucks, farm equipment, appliances plus sofas and easy chairs well past their ‘best-before-dates.’ Call it rural recycling.

So, cities, towns, counties, none of us are blameless. In ancient times they threw their garbage in the streets. We line ours up on the curb or leave it on the lawn.

I guess you can say our attempt to save our world is littered with good intentions.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 30, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Posted in thoughts

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