To the editor:
A few thoughts on Bristol’s recycling conundrum:
1. When it comes to recycling, Bristol lags behind towns like Tiverton. If you don’t know, Tiverton, unlike Bristol, requires recycling. if you don’t put out recycling bins with your trash, then your trash doesn’t get picked up. Period. It only takes a week of not having your trash picked up to knock some sense into you. Sure, some people put out empty recycle bins (I’ve seen them), but I think these people are the same jerks who pretend to pick up their dog’s waste by doing phantom grass swipes with the plastic bag in front of their neighbor’s houses. I notice that many of my High Street neighbors don’t put recycling bins out on trash day. If it’s not required many people won’t do it. Seatbelt laws drastically increased the number of drivers who regularly wear a seatbelt and I suspect mandated recycling would go a long way to help increase recycling rates in Bristol.
2. Recycling education programs for children are somewhat like preaching to the choir. Kids, for the most part, are way ahead of the adults on this one. Kids have grown up knowing what that three-headed triangular arrow represent. Moreover, adults are the ones regularly taking out the trash, not the kids. Voluntary adult education programs largely attract people that are already proponents of recycling. I’ve been to these information sessions and they’re a big recycling love fest. Everyone there already knows the benefits of recycling. Only when the hassle of not participating in recycling becomes greater than the hassle of recycling, will people change their habits (see point #1).
3. When I first moved to Bristol recycling workers refused to accept my pile of empty cardboard boxes because they were not bound with twine. After pleading my case to no avail, I packed up the cardboard into my car and drove it over to Tiverton. The cardboard was accepted for recycling without question. This example could be a one-time event, and I’m certainly not trying to make enemies with the nice gentlemen that pick the recycling up, but policies that make it a hassle for people to recycle result in more trash in the landfill.
4. Bristol, by many measures, is on the rise. Schools are improving, the downtown is thriving, and people are recognizing it more and more as a great place to live and raise a family (that’s why I moved here from Tiverton). Bristol residents have a lot to be proud of, but the recycling program is an exception to this rule and we have a lot to learn from towns like Tiverton. If you recycle, great, but it would be even better if you could inspire one other house on your block to start participating. It’s easy, it keeps non-biodegradable materials out of landfills and it brings money back into the community.
Stephen E. Kaczmarek
123 High St.