Friday, November 28, 2014

Leaf Pickup--The Fairness Issue

This website has long argued for a better approach to Princeton's collection of compostables--yardwaste, leaves, brush and foodwaste. The aim should be clean streets for nine months of the year, less expense, less distraction of staff from other important tasks, and consistent service.

This fall's looseleaf collection has, in my neighborhood, appeared to go pretty well. But this photo shows a neighborhood after its last looseleaf pickup in the fall. The streets should be clean, but they're not. In fact, there is scarcely a week of the year when the streets are clean with the current system.

This post focuses on just one of the many strong arguments for a revision of service: the fairness issue, which manifests itself at the end of the year. With the town divided up into four zones, the last pickup will vary by several weeks, depending on the zone. In the less fortunate zones, the last looseleaf pickup in the fall may come before all the leaves have fallen from the trees.

That's what happened for this neighbor, whose pin oak still has leaves, one week after the last pickup. The unfairness would be greatly reduced if each participating homeowner had a rollout bin. A fuller, succinct description of this approach is provided in this letter, but the upshot is that these small piles of leaves, and similar ones of yardwaste that are currently dumped loose on the streets year-round, could easily fit into a rollout bin. The larger versions of rollout bins hold the equivalent of three yardwaste bags. Though yardwaste bags could still be used to complement the bins, rollout bins are superior in that they are sturdy, waterproof, mobile, and easily filled.

Rollout bins are also perfect for stowing these pumpkins, and the little blob of leaves just beyond it. The bin would be rolled out to the curb for weekly pickups, leaving the streetscape uncluttered the other six.

Princeton can do better, and there is reason to believe that making the rollout bin the core of compostables collection would increase convenience, consistency, fairness, and street cleanliness--all at a reduced cost.

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