Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Brainchild, Part 2



I've been letting the fantasy sink in a bit, and of course it is growing. Now, I can see the Center City Commission looking at the above "Cans for Cash" recycling depository and thinking, "Uh, not in my backyard." But, in the evergrowing fantasy, the recycling centers would almost be like pieces of art. They could be painted super cool by a local muralist, or hey, we could even get that Graffiti crew the Flyer wrote about to decorate them. (And then re-decorate them again and again.)

Apparently I'm tapping into the collective unconscious, because it looks like Canada is already implementing at least half of my plan:

From Car & Map:

We sampled the local Greek fare, chuckled at the city’s decision to build a tall, skinny tower with restaurant at top, and stared in dismay at the hundreds of down-and-outs, mostly heroine addicts.

Which brings me to the beauty of the Canadian recycling regime. If you’ve never been to Vancouver you’ve probably never see their trash cans. Each one has a divided rack in the front to hold cans and bottles to be recycled. At first glance you’d think that it would fill up and then no one could recycle. That is what I thought at least. There are only about six little recycling receptacles on each trash can after all.



But here is where the Canadian tendency towards charging fees comes into play. The homeless people wander around Vancouver during the day collecting all of the cans and bottles out of the trash can holders in order to bring them to the local collection center where they then cash out. I realize this happens to a degree in some American cities too, but nothing like in Vancouver. There were homeless gents everywhere, emptying out the can and bottle holders, and keeping the recycling system humming.

The beauty and sneakiness of it all pleased me tremendously. Without really letting on, the Canadian government was transferring millions of dollars of wealth from the beverage purchasing classes to the street people. Brilliant. No bureaucratic middlemen, no squeezed, complaining middle-class (after all, participation in this wealth transfer system is completely voluntary), and an otherwise unoccupied street people with something to fill their time and occasionally their pockets. Nice job Canadians.

Oh, and best of all, garbage gets recycled.


So once we get the big depository (depositories would be best) and make it real purty, we can not only have panhandlers pick up the bottles that are on the ground, we can modify current trash cans to hold a small amount of recyclables for people like me who prefer to err on the side of recycling rather than littering.

1 comment:

Cathy White said...

Time to write up that article in the newspaper! Then you can start going after evil plastic bags.

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