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.


lindy said...

Steve . In Barbara Smoyer Park there is litter in the Rain Garden that came origiionaly from the Ball Park bins .

I have not picked it up but notified Ben Stenz. Nothing done & soon it will be hidden

Unfortunately when I have picked up litter my hands stink of Fox so without the right equipment I no longer pick it up.Lindy

Steve Hiltner said...

Thanks, Lindy. I guess we'd call that another example of unintentional littering. Friends of Herrontown Woods agreed to take care of that raingarden, as part of getting the town to agree to the replanting with native species. So I'll go over and see what I can do. Maybe we need a friends of Smoyer Park committee.