Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trash Talking

When I have my weekly story-telling time for neighborhood kids, tales of the BD (BeforeDunwoody) era are always a hit.

The kids 'oooh' and 'ahhh' of the days gone by, then it's back to reality for these youngsters.

But one legend from the past still exists for our youth to see with their own eyes ........ the DeKalb Sanitation Worker! This living legend shows up like clockwork four days a week. Twice weekly he hauls away anything and everything I can get to the curb. (I think one reason Dunwoody does not have a huge problem with trash and illegal dumps throughout the city is the fact that we have twice-weekly pickup.). One day a week he hauls away my grass clippings and neatly piled tree limbs. And of course he picks up BigBlue. Big Blue is a semi-transparent bag filled with evidence of the week's alcohol consumption. I've heard some neighbors use Recycle Day as a chance to walk and see through neighbors' blue bags to see where the sinners live.

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes in Atlanta, the DeKalb TrashMan rises from the gases of the Seminole Landfill. We've experienced bad things from DeKalb, but the sanitation service is not one of them. I've gotten used to our city police force and our own zoning board. I've come to terms with the existence of the DHA and the legendary farmhouse. But let me keep my TrashMan.

City Council has asked Warren to set up yet another committee (this is a "cross-departmental" committee so no council members had a chance to nominate themselves or a spouse to it) to evaluate the outsourcing of sanitation services. This committee includes our Public Works Director and our Finance Director. Not sure if these people live in Dunwoody or not.

The city's recent memo does not talk about how much money would allegedly be saved by privatizing this function, but since trash talk was never an issue during the DunwoodyYes days, I do not know why it is now a topic for discussion.

For 2008 I paid $265 for DeKalb to haul away ($22 a month) approximately 870 beer bottles, 300 Diet Coke cans, one wine bottle (we had some friends over that drank this, I do not drink wine), 1200 pounds of 'too-old-to-eat leftovers, two sinks, 400 lawn bags, three pine trees, 40 empty pizza boxes, 52 Dunwoody Crier newspapers, and other stuff that does not need mentioned.

It seems the committee has been hard at work. See here for their early findings.

If you are too lazy to click the link I'll break it down for you.

Committee: Once a week pickup is superior to twice a week pickup.
Me: Twice a week of most things in my life is better than once a week of the same thing.

Committee: DeKalb charges extra for recycling and other companies have created 'incentive' programs for recycling.
Me: What 'incentive' do these folks offer? Will they come to my kitchen and sort my trash? Will they wash my windows? Will they buy me a pitcher of beer at Mellow Mushroom? The reason why DeKalb charges extra for recycling is because it costs MORE to recycle than it does to dump it in a hole. A trailer full of waste paper brings $19.00 a ton. That's right, simply haul 2000 pounds of mixed paper to a recycler and walk away with a cool $19.00! How about all those beer and wine bottles stashed in BigBlue bags? $2.85 a ton. So if I collect 2000 pounds of glass I still do not have enough money for a banana split at Bruster's.

For the record, DeKalb charges a one-time setup fee of $30 for the recycling program. For $30 you get a blue plastic tub for newspapers, cardboard, etc. You also get a huge case of blue bags. I put plastics, cans, and bottles in this bag. The committee posted bullet point after bullet point on this issue. I think a $30 fee is acceptable to get the tub and bags (at least all of Dunwoody trash is not of varied appearance on recycle day as everyone has blue bags and tubs on the street).

I know the money paid for recycled goods is not the reason we recycle, but the financial part of it cannot be ignored.

Any private business seeking the sacred Dunwoody Trash will have to factor in these costs just as DeKalb does now. A private company can charge less, but the level of service will drop greatly. You'll be limited to a certain number of lawn bags a week and be restricted to a certain amount of trash you can wheel out to the street. What will happen if you have too much? Let it stew in the garage for a week I guess.

I do not think the recycling charge from DeKalb is excessive. If the committee is worried about this 'disincentive' to recycle, simply have DeKalb add in the recycling fee to ALL customers, recyclers or not. And keep our current level of service.

When reading the committee memo the committee mentions possible 'educational' programs. Hasn't the public school system pumped this into the heads of the kids already? Do we really need a printed brochure to educate us on recycling? Just have our very own Sustainable Pattie do an email blast and we'll get a good understanding of what we need to do.

The committee also cites the sustainability aspect of once a week pickups, referencing emissions and roads. First off, the extra days your trash will stew in a hot city-approved trash container creates stinkaroo gas. Al Gore and Bono both oppose this type of gas. Stinkaroo gas in this form is harmful to not only the environment but also to your nose.

A committee is concerned about emissions and we have a council member wanting to import old gas guzzling London cabs for a Dunwoody taxi service?

Side Note: I received word late last night that the city is in negotiations with Rubbermaid and Lemonade Days to create a special Dunwoody trashcan. This can will have the look of a Colonial trashcan and have a full-color hologram of the Dunwoody Farmhouse on it.

Less wear on the roads? Perhaps. But I do not think the extra weekly trip down my street or your street will make the road any worse than it already is.

The committee also cited increased safety. If that is not a stretch I do not know what is. Increased safety because the garbage trucks will roll out less often? If anything, those slow-rolling yellow sleds of trash slow down traffic in Dunwoody, making things safer!

The committee talks about the advantage of having only one (95 gallon) can on the curb once a week (instead of my two 45-gallon trash cans). They cite this as an aesthetic advantage. I see it as a government intrusion into my trash. Plus, can our elderly residents maneuver those things to the curb? Our elderly have already been dealt bad hands this year with the post office moving and lights at The Branches tennis courts. Can they handle more change?

The best line in the memo is here" Regardless of the frequency of pickup, currently, there is no requirement for a standard container which allows for a varied appearance".

Are you kidding! We have not paved a single road in Dunwoody (and will not for months and months) and the committee is concerned about varied appearance of trash containers?

I am concerned about the varied appearance of our streets. Why is it that some streets have only two potholes per 100 meters while others get to have three per 100 meters?

I am concerned about the varied appearance of our sidewalks. Some go place to place, and most others seem to appear as invisible.

I am concerned abut the varied appearance of traffic. Why do some people get stuck in traffic while others only get cut-through speeders in their neighborhood?

There will be public hearings on this issue, so please plan to attend. In the meantime, contact your councilperson and those committee members and let them know how you feel on this issue.

Roll On DeKalb TrashMan!