The Spectator's View: An easy way to reduce waste

Opinion Apr 06, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

It's a question politicians must ask themselves regularly: are they elected to lead or follow? Do they do what voters tell them or do they tell voters what's best?

Most would say it is a little of both. Democracy is not perfect, and voters can be selfish. Individual taxpayers can be selfish; they do not necessarily take into account the needs of the community as a whole.

The latest example reared its head again this week in Hamilton in the form of biweekly trash pickup. The city wants to save money by picking up garbage once every two weeks rather than every week.

Some politicians, ever mindful of re-election, say it will be an inconvenience for taxpayers. "It just doesn't add up for residents," says Coun. Sam Merulla.

Well, rising taxes are also an inconvenience, and they certainly do add up for residents.

Do we want to live in a progressive city? Or do we want our historic entitlements?

An increasing number of other cities have gone to a biweekly system to save money, and Hamilton should follow suit.

Change is not easy. It takes patience, time and education.

Not only will a biweekly system save the city money, it will also encourage more residents to make better use of green and blue boxes, which will still be picked up every week.

At the moment, both alternatives remain underused, according to trash audits by city workers. According to the city, 41 per cent of garbage bags contain material the city wants you to compost.

That means our landfill options get ever narrower with each passing year. While Hamilton's landfill has decades of capacity remaining, sooner or later it will become a monumental problem. The more we can postpone it, the better off future generations will be.

Meanwhile, forcing more residents to use recycling and composting options will also encourage consumers to demand less packaging from retailers. While the province is looking into regulations to reduce packaging by manufacturers, there's nothing like consumer demand to speed things up.

It took years of education, training, coaxing, debating, experimenting and exasperation — not to mention tens of millions of dollars — to institute Ontario's blue box system. Yet recycling, for all its success, has a long way to go yet.

Some municipalities, including Hamilton, have instituted garbage limits; others have opted for a user-pay system. Such methods are open to abuse and dumping, but they certainly focus the mind when it comes to unnecessary waste.

We live in a so-called throwaway society because we have made it cheap and easy to throw stuff away. We need to change that.

Paul Berton

The Spectator's View: An easy way to reduce waste

Opinion Apr 06, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

It's a question politicians must ask themselves regularly: are they elected to lead or follow? Do they do what voters tell them or do they tell voters what's best?

Most would say it is a little of both. Democracy is not perfect, and voters can be selfish. Individual taxpayers can be selfish; they do not necessarily take into account the needs of the community as a whole.

The latest example reared its head again this week in Hamilton in the form of biweekly trash pickup. The city wants to save money by picking up garbage once every two weeks rather than every week.

Some politicians, ever mindful of re-election, say it will be an inconvenience for taxpayers. "It just doesn't add up for residents," says Coun. Sam Merulla.

Well, rising taxes are also an inconvenience, and they certainly do add up for residents.

Do we want to live in a progressive city? Or do we want our historic entitlements?

An increasing number of other cities have gone to a biweekly system to save money, and Hamilton should follow suit.

Change is not easy. It takes patience, time and education.

Not only will a biweekly system save the city money, it will also encourage more residents to make better use of green and blue boxes, which will still be picked up every week.

At the moment, both alternatives remain underused, according to trash audits by city workers. According to the city, 41 per cent of garbage bags contain material the city wants you to compost.

That means our landfill options get ever narrower with each passing year. While Hamilton's landfill has decades of capacity remaining, sooner or later it will become a monumental problem. The more we can postpone it, the better off future generations will be.

Meanwhile, forcing more residents to use recycling and composting options will also encourage consumers to demand less packaging from retailers. While the province is looking into regulations to reduce packaging by manufacturers, there's nothing like consumer demand to speed things up.

It took years of education, training, coaxing, debating, experimenting and exasperation — not to mention tens of millions of dollars — to institute Ontario's blue box system. Yet recycling, for all its success, has a long way to go yet.

Some municipalities, including Hamilton, have instituted garbage limits; others have opted for a user-pay system. Such methods are open to abuse and dumping, but they certainly focus the mind when it comes to unnecessary waste.

We live in a so-called throwaway society because we have made it cheap and easy to throw stuff away. We need to change that.

Paul Berton

The Spectator's View: An easy way to reduce waste

Opinion Apr 06, 2016 Hamilton Spectator

It's a question politicians must ask themselves regularly: are they elected to lead or follow? Do they do what voters tell them or do they tell voters what's best?

Most would say it is a little of both. Democracy is not perfect, and voters can be selfish. Individual taxpayers can be selfish; they do not necessarily take into account the needs of the community as a whole.

The latest example reared its head again this week in Hamilton in the form of biweekly trash pickup. The city wants to save money by picking up garbage once every two weeks rather than every week.

Some politicians, ever mindful of re-election, say it will be an inconvenience for taxpayers. "It just doesn't add up for residents," says Coun. Sam Merulla.

Well, rising taxes are also an inconvenience, and they certainly do add up for residents.

Do we want to live in a progressive city? Or do we want our historic entitlements?

An increasing number of other cities have gone to a biweekly system to save money, and Hamilton should follow suit.

Change is not easy. It takes patience, time and education.

Not only will a biweekly system save the city money, it will also encourage more residents to make better use of green and blue boxes, which will still be picked up every week.

At the moment, both alternatives remain underused, according to trash audits by city workers. According to the city, 41 per cent of garbage bags contain material the city wants you to compost.

That means our landfill options get ever narrower with each passing year. While Hamilton's landfill has decades of capacity remaining, sooner or later it will become a monumental problem. The more we can postpone it, the better off future generations will be.

Meanwhile, forcing more residents to use recycling and composting options will also encourage consumers to demand less packaging from retailers. While the province is looking into regulations to reduce packaging by manufacturers, there's nothing like consumer demand to speed things up.

It took years of education, training, coaxing, debating, experimenting and exasperation — not to mention tens of millions of dollars — to institute Ontario's blue box system. Yet recycling, for all its success, has a long way to go yet.

Some municipalities, including Hamilton, have instituted garbage limits; others have opted for a user-pay system. Such methods are open to abuse and dumping, but they certainly focus the mind when it comes to unnecessary waste.

We live in a so-called throwaway society because we have made it cheap and easy to throw stuff away. We need to change that.

Paul Berton