When Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev came back from his trip to the United States he had the answer to all of the USSR’s agricultural and other problems – corn. A directive was issued and pretty soon corn was being planted everywhere with joyous reports pouring in from all corners of the country even from places where corn had no chance of maturing due to the short growing season. Just like in the Special Olympics it wasn’t the results that counted, people got points (and awards) for participation.
I thought about overachieving and stupidity when I came home the other day to see my neighborhood lined with blue trash carts.
With these trash carts the City of Olathe is about to start its recycling program. I am skeptical about the benefits of recycling and until now did not participate in the program since it was not mandatory and cost an additional charge. My household doesn’t produce enough recyclable materials as outlined by the City to even bother. As a matter of fact we just don’t have that much trash in general. When the City supplied everyone with 95 gallon trash carts few years ago I immediately traded down to a smaller 65 gallon size and even that is almost always half-empty. I hardly ever have any items that fit the description other than an occasional phone book, a rare plastic bottle, or a piece of cardboard, so the 65 gallon cart represents about 65 times more volume of recyclables my family can produce in a year. The City did a test-run and feels that I will have enough stuff to fill it every two weeks. Obviously this is not going to happen.
In addition to the fact that I never volunteered to participate and wasn’t consulted with before the cart was dropped off in my driveway I literally don’t have any room in my garage to keep two 65 gallon containers. Hardly anyone in this neighborhood has more than one-car garage and most of the people already keep their regular trash carts out on the street (against the regulations), so now it will be adorned by two giant trash bins per household. However, the main non-benefit of the recycling program is a mandatory increase in the cost of the trash pick-up. While no one has to participate, everyone has to pay supposedly to attain a “long‐term stabilizing benefit to recycling because landfill costs are increasing”. Now I am torn between wanting to get something for the money I suddenly have to contribute and the realization that I will probably never have enough recyclables to even bother rolling the cart out on the pick-up day. Most likely I will just return the cart and curse the City every time I pay the bill.
I realize that many people believe in recycling, Jesus Christ, hope and change, world peace and global warming/cooling or both. Nothing wrong with that. What I find idiotic is the city investing in enough of the $65 trash-carts for every house, special trucks and equipment, with many people like me who will opt out of the program for various reasons. I have no idea how many people will return the carts or just leave them outside as decorations. The time will tell. I wouldn’t have any problem with just a price increase without the recycling gimmick, I realize that the costs are rising, but what may be a good idea for some, was imposed on all by the same type of thoughtless overachievers who long ago were planting corn inside the Arctic circle.
In the meantime you are welcome to drop off your recycling at my house – it’s already paid for.
If you have thirty minutes of spare time, watch this episode of Penn and Teller Bullshit, maybe you’ll recognize yourself.