Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Three Rs

Last night was my favourite night of the week - garbage night.  There's something freeing about things you no longer need being voluntarily and willingly removed from your life.  I misspoke a little with my opening line, as Saint John only collects every second week, allowing me this guiltless pleasure only bi-weekly.

We love to recycle too.  We make a point of reducing, reusing, and recycling.  If something is unnecessarily over packaged, we don't buy it.  If we have something we no longer use that is perfectly fine for someone else, it goes to Kijiji or freecycle.  While Kijiji gets used on a fairly regular basis in this city, it's disappointing that the local freecycle site isn't used a lot.

Now, I've been a strong advocate of recycling for a long time and it has become second nature, which is why I was surprised to learn about the Saint John recycling system.  The city provides you with assorted dumpsters in various locations around the city and you bring your recycling to them.  My initial response to this was, "What?"

Recycling is something that, in theory, saves the city money as materials that would normally wind up in a landfill are recycled and sold for profit.  It would make sense to make such a service convenient and even mandatory.  As it stands, you can't force people to recycle because those who don't own vehicles can't simply walk it to the curb for pickup.

We are happy not to be contributing to the carbon emission problem by owning a vehicle.  With systems such as this pathetic recycling system and unreliable public transit options (oh, there will be more on this subject in the near future) it becomes very difficult not to own a car.  Approximately every eight weeks or so we rent a car and incorporate a getaway weekend with shopping for large items that can't be taken home on a bus and getting rid of the accumulated recycling.  And it's fun.  I can't imagine what we would do if I didn't drive though.  We certainly wouldn't be able to recycle as much.

I'll mention here that there is a redemption system in place for bottled items such as pop (blech!), juice or water where you are charged ten cents at the grocery store when you purchase them and you receive five cents back when you bring them to a redemption centre.  We are fine with this to offset the costs of producing and disposing of these convenient items, but those said centres are not anywhere handy.

What can be taken away from this post is that Saint John likes to pretend they are a full-fledged city with everything that should be offered, but it is strictly a half-assed attempt instead of an efficient operation.

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