Monday, March 29, 2021

How To Dramatically Reduce Littering in Princeton

Both recycling days in March have been windy, which means recyclables are getting blown all around in the streets. This is the perfect example of how so much of the harm done to our shared spaces, be it a town street or the planet, is unintentional. Even when there's no wind, recyclables often fall out of overfilled bins. The fine for intentionally littering in NJ is up to $500, with a $100 minimum penalty. That law is not protecting us nor our environment, nor are any laws protecting the atmosphere from all the extra CO2 being unintentionally sent skyward.
Well-designed stormdrain grates prevent some of the plastic from entering waterways, 
but other plastics can still slip through, ending up in Lake Carnegie and ultimately the ocean, where plastics accidentally get eaten by aquatic life, building up in their guts. 

Plastic, made from fossil fuels, is the visible form of carbon pollution. Excess CO2, formed by combusting fossil fuels, is the invisible form of carbon pollution our machines send skyward from tailpipes and chimneys.

Most of the plastics pollution Princeton generates is due not to selfish disregard but to Mercer County's small, lid-less recycling bins that tip over in the wind. Shall we slap the wind with a $500 fine? How about fining the recycling bin for being poorly designed?

As with all the unintentional pollution by which we collectively harm the planet, the solution needs to be collective as well. Large, lidded rollcarts are widely used elsewhere in the country, and could largely solve the problem. 

The county could, for instance, phase out the old yellow and green recycling buckets by supplying large 64 or 96 gallon rollcarts for replacements, new customers, and anyone else who wants to make the change. Trucks would need to be fitted on the back with hydraulic tipper hooks ($5000 for each truck). Lids keep contents dry, wheels ease the homeowner's burden. Capacity is more than twice the small buckets. There are many advantages. County? Time to step up and help Princeton keep its streets clean.

Monday, March 01, 2021

When Trash Talks

Do the trash collectors take furniture? I'd started to see a lot of furniture left uncollected on trash day, and had heard that the policy had changed to make that service more limited. But the Princeton municipal website says they still take bulky items, up to the size of a 2 seat couch. 

But this homeowner had a three seat couch. It disappeared on trash day, however, which may have had something to do with that bucket with a sign next to the couch. 
"Drinks for waste management," the sign says. I'd seen this bucket out before, with a variety of drinks and snacks. 

While all the other neighbors had shoveled their sidewalks, this one had not. I thought they were out of town and oblivious, but the trash offered a different story. Of course! The shovel broke.