Curbside trash and recycling is inevitable. Why the delay?

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor

The last My Turn column of the year should be profound, shouldn’t it?

One year I wrote about how I avoided resolutions. Does anybody really enjoy all those well-meaning thoughts so many writers want to share? It’s enough to make one gag, really.

My best column this year was the one that resulted in a good lambasting by a reader the next week in the Letters to the Editor. I just loved getting a written reaction from someone, for a change.

The poor man who wrote that letter must have been stuck behind me in the fast lane when I was doing at least 75 in a 70 zone and refused to move over into the rough and bumpy slow lane so he could get by.

Or maybe he’s been stuck behind me on Plumas roads, where I really do try to remember to use the turnouts and let hurried folks like him get by. Oh my, how I enjoyed his letter, even if it made me look foolish for my driving habits.

But none of that seems to matter now, on the tail end of what seems like the flu. It hit me like a truck on a Friday, and here I am trying to figure out my year-end column four miserable days later.

The only thing I can get up enough steam to get riled about is yet another delay of the inevitable curbside recycling expansion.

Living out in a secondary suburban zone, only three miles out of town, I have long wished for mandatory curbside trash and recycling pickup.

Supervisor Robert Meacher told me once long ago that the only way to make the curbside recycling feasible “way out here” was to have mandatory trash pickup, like in the more condensed and populated parts of the county, like in a certain part of Quincy.

“That’ll never fly, though,” he said. Only a supervisor who didn’t want to be re-elected would ever push that through, I guess.

But then it was a happy day a short time later, when the folks at Waste Management and Feather River Disposal offered free recycling bins for commercial accounts.

My husband had retired, but the bill still said commercial, and changing it to residential would make no difference in the dollar amount charged each month, or so I was told.

I think I was one of the first to call and ask for the recycling bins. We had bins for office paper and newspaper mostly, and took our redemption-value products in separately to the transfer site in order to get our money back.

But one day not long afterward, the trash man came and took the recycle bins away.

“It’s killing us financially,” we were told. There wasn’t enough money in paper, I guess.

My husband and I aren’t getting any younger, and our old injuries aren’t getting any better. So saving up the paper and loading the truck, then offloading at the transfer site is out of the question for us. Recycling is not one of those handicap-accessible activities.

Making more frequent trips with loads small enough for us to handle would just cost more in gas and carbon emissions. It just doesn’t make sense, any way I look at it.

So I signed up for auto pay to save the trash company money and paper. Somebody ought to be able to save some money around here, right?

The bill is paid every month, and I just feel guilty for all the paper and newspaper and other recyclables I stuff down into the trash can every week.

When our past neighbors’ trash barrels have overflowed after a month of being full, and even later, when smells of their burning garbage wafted toward us on the breeze during the first good winter rains, I remembered.

It was probably those kinds of people who complained the loudest about the possibility of being forced to pay for weekly trash service.

They would complain even louder if someone bothered to cite them for not legally disposing of their own trash on a weekly basis.

The issue is not new, and it won’t go away. The people of the great state of California want us to be clean in every which way; up, down and all around.

Locally, who cares about the laws against letting trash sit for more than a week, and laws against burning it? People here want to be left alone to do their own thing in their own time.

So be it. I’m probably just as ornery about my things in life. And now I’m going to blow my nose, go to sleep and probably have a nightmare about recycling the two boxes of tissue I’ve just gone through.


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