This monster we’ve created

If everybody behaved rationally, running a town would be a lot simpler and cheaper. No crime, no litter, no need for expensive structures to deal with all the stupid things we do.
The world is a mess and our little part of it has its problems as well. We’ll focus on just one of them today, that being recycling.
Recycling isn’t the problem; the lack of it is. The active cell at the landfill fills up probably about three times faster than it needs to. If everybody followed the very simple practice of recycling all their cardboard, paper, plastic, tin and glass, the cell would last years longer. But they aren’t and it doesn’t, and every time they have to build a new pit, it costs another million-and-a-half or so. Of course that comes out of our pockets, one way or another. So if you can’t get motivated to separate the proper garbage from the recyclable stuff, maybe knowing that will help.
And it really is easy. You set up three or four boxes, or bags, one for each of those recyclable materials mentioned above and chuck the stuff in. When they’re full, you put them curbside and they disappear like magic. Or you can take them over to the recycle depot yourself. Not difficult, but apparently more than many people can be bothered to do.
Many people also can’t be bothered to properly dispose of their paper cups. One cup of coffee and out the window it goes. The countryside is littered with these and other ‘throwaway’ stuff, most of it plastic or paper containers or wrappers.
Stuffing it all in a garbage can would solve the litter problem, but not the landfill problem. Big cities are talking about banning the single-use coffee cup. In Vancouver, for example, an estimated 2.6 million of these per week are trashed. It costs the city $2.5 million a year to collect and process them. ‘Ban them!’ say some commentators.
Ban plastic bags too, say others. Plastic waste is uglifying the countryside and choking our oceans. We are doing this to ourselves and to future generations.
There are ways to deal with it. We need to give our heads a shake and realize that in most cases, a small change of habit can make a big difference if most of us do it. But we need to accept that all this junk we are throwing out and throwing around is a problem and we are part of it.
Some coffee chains, we hear, give a discount if you bring in a travel mug. Others – including one right here in Slave Lake – do not give coffee in paper cups to customers inside unless asked to. A simple thing, but one that reduces litter by probably several hundred cups per week.
It’s a different world than our grandparents lived in. We need to change or be swamped in garbage and snowed under by the expense of dealing with the monster we’ve created.

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