Monday, October 7, 2013

New recycling cart arrived - so why am I so angry ....

I guess there is something wrong with me.  Perhaps, I expect too much of Newfield having lived in a big city.  Ever since moving back home five years ago I have been rooting (and writing a letter to Borough Council) for better recycling - more frequent pickups and a larger container with a lid. Today, my demands came true.  I now have a larger container; it has a lid; and recycle will be picked up on a weekly basis on Fridays.  Of course, I had provided my own container with a lid for those five years but hey.  So why am I sitting here fuming?

Several issues ago in the Town Crier,  recycling was announced without a timeline.  Mostly, the item talked about how a household would be fined if they didn't turn in their old lidless container at the same time they received the new one.  I saw that as a vague threat and I wasn't the only person.  Real cool way to make sure to increase recycling  !#$!  At the next Borough Council meeting, I asked for a timeline (I knew they couldn't pin down dates) for the process and said that I had found the info already provided vague and anxiety-producing. That is, I alluded the item in the Town Crier was threatening with out calling it a threat so not to offend anyone.  I also asked that they provide written information that updated what we could recycle.  They patronized me and said it would all be explained in the one-call  (reverse 911) system they have in place.

Next Town Crier talked about recycling - vague terms again but no timeline or dates.  Again, I brought up the information issue at the following Borough Council meeting and was again patronized.  The information issue is important because I am sure the rules have changed over five years.  When I first began recycling in Seattle, no plastic was allowed and glass had to be separated from paper and metal.  Paper that was contaminated with grease or meat was a no-no. Think pizza boxes.  I love pizza.  Anyway, here, my sister informed me, we could recycle plastics with a 1 or 2 numeral on the bottom of the container but like glass, the containers had to be free of food.  In Delaware, where my daughter lives, they don't have that rule anymore.  So, what are the rules here?  A new schedule and a new container is the perfect time to update everyone's knowledge and by-the-by encourage more recycling.

Today, I stormed out of the house as the Public Works employees dropped off the new cart in the middle of my soggy lawn (not the driveway) and then had to yell when they paid no attention to my waving.  (1) Did they need my old container?  (2) When would recycling happen?  (3) Where was my info on what is recyclable?  The answers, prefaced by - why was I yelling when I had been told in one-call - (1) later, (2) Fridays, and (3) oh, it was all in the last Town Crier (not!).  Along the way, he implied I should be happy they were dropping off the container when, after all, it was raining.   Oh sugar, you won't melt - trust me.  I lived in Seattle for 24 years where rain is a way of life.  He advised me to call Borough Hall when I said I had no warning and get on the one-call system.

So, I called the Town Clerk.  I told her they just dropped off the cart without my getting any warning.  She asked what she could do and I said put me on the one-call system that I seemed to be dropped from ( I used to get calls) and to complain to the Council member that had promised me I would get printed recycling information ahead of the cart for me.  She said she would send an email. I know she will follow through on the email as I did get the one-call about the recycling about 45 minutes after I hung up with her.

Then I got a phone call from the Council Member who does the one-call calls to ask if it had come through.  I was able to say "yes".  I told her I used to get calls and hadn't for awhile.  She admitted that she had had other complaints about people being dropped off.  So then I remarked on how the written material that I was assured I would get had not arrived.  I tried to explain how this information is important if they want to get the level of recycling to increase.  Her response was the typical how wonderful the Borough Council is - saving money because (1) Newfield is no longer paying another municipality to do the recycling, (2) the cart is bigger, (3) recycling pickup will happen once a week, and with my prompting (4) the cart has a lid.  The fact that money was spent to buy the truck and the containers seemed to go out of her head - along with the fact that at current rates it will take 10 years to recoup those costs from the cash Newfield will get for the recycling material.    To be fair, amortization of cost may not be a concept with which she is familiar.

I tried really hard to get her to understand we need a refresher on the rules.  Seattle used to have a big sticker on the inside of the recycling cart and a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) page on its web site.  Periodically households also received updates in the mail with no other topics but recycling to dilute the message. She is the Council member responsible for Communications, so telling her is entirely appropriate.  Actually, I was begging and pleading but I'm not sure she understood my frustration or urgency. 

As far as I'm concerned, the Borough Council had a perfect opportunity to make this fun by involving families in some sort of special event while increasing recycling rates.  They blew it.  Instead one of the strongest supporters of recycling is sitting here aggravated and disappointed.

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