Weekend Ramblings: Waste Disposal

>> Sunday, June 14, 2009

Being a stay-at-home mom has many benefits, but intellectual stimulation is not one of them. I spend two to three hours a day cooking and cleaning and an hour or more driving or walking - in other words, a lot of time where my mind is left to solitary wandering.

Sometimes I wish I had some feedback to my wandering thoughts, so I thought I'd occasionally start doing some rambling on the weekends, just to get the thoughts out there to someone besides my husband and maybe provoke some conversation as well.

I would love to hear your comments, but I don't like being told I'm being an idiot, even if I am. So please keep your comments respectful.

This week, I was thinking about JessTrev's suggestion that the government should offer tax incentives for conscientious waste disposal, and also an article I read that said San Francisco was going to start fining people for not recycling.

It reminded me of a debate class I took in college where I debated about waste disposal. My argument was that a program should be implemented in Kentucky (where I was living at the time) allowing people a certain number of trash bags a week, and if they went over that amount, they should be fined. This kind of system would encourage people both to recycle and to use less in general.

But I lost the debate because all of my evidence to support my argument came from case studies and examples in California rather than Kentucky, and according to my professor, if you say the program should be implemented in Kentucky, you have to show evidence that it would work in Kentucky. Personally, I thought that was totally stupid because no one had ever proposed it in Kentucky so of course there were no studies showing how it would work there. But anyway...

Thinking about all of these things, I had the following thoughts:

  • What if we were responsible for disposing of all of our waste? If something could be recycled, you would be rewarded for disposing of it, or maybe you wouldn't get anything, but if you had to landfill it, you would be fined.
  • Would that kind of system encourage people to buy more responsible and quality products, since they wouldn't want to pay a fine?
  • Or would people just end up illegally dumping a lot of things (which was one of the arguments of the other side in my debate class)?
  • Would knowing that they were responsible for disposal encourage people to buy less in general?
  • If people were responsible for the dispoal of their own products, how would that influence the marketplace?
  • Should the responsibility for waste disposal lie with consumers or producers?
  • If producers were responsible for waste disposal, would they just end up cutting corners, sending things to countries where there are less strict laws?

So these are thoughts I was having this week...Any comments?


Leigh,  June 15, 2009 at 9:58 AM  

Interesting...it reminds me of the thoughts I used to have about a "butt deposit" that would work like a bottle deposit, except for cigarette butts. Less pollution, more opportunities for smokers to think about their environmental impact, more revenue...I think they finally implemented one in New York? maybe?...Anyway, I like these ideas, but your # should be how many people you have in a house. Another reason to use cloth diapers!

Emily June 16, 2009 at 12:19 PM  

One city I lived in in Michigan had a system where you had to tag each bag of trash (and you paid for each tag). You could buy the tags at the grocery store or gas station. These replaced the monthly trash fee (or it was really really low). It was a good incentive to not have many trash bags.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper June 17, 2009 at 8:55 AM  

@Leigh - You're right that it would depend on the number of people in a household, which could get complicated, so it would probably work best as Emily mentions in her comment where you have to buy tags for each bag of trash...About the butt deposit - very cool idea, I hadn't heard of that one before. Especially for someone who smokes a lot - that money could really add up and would be a good incentive not to litter.

@Emily - Since you've lived in a place with that type of system...Did you find that people followed it pretty well? Or did it lead to more illegal dumping/burning or littering?

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