Sunday, April 27, 2008

H is for Hazardous Waste

Well the point of the ABC-along (as I understood it) was to post photos that had some sort of meaning to the photographer.   In a recent post I mentioned an ongoing project that has me making regular trips to the town's Hazardous Waste Dump. Which is separate from the regular 'ole dump Dump, because this is where for free we can legally dispose of things like televisions, computers, cans of paint, moter oil, batteries, antifreeze, insecticide, and any other nasty scary chemicals. It certainly isn't an attractive place and you won't find this:

in any of the visitor brochures!  Until someone invents the wonder of Smell-O-Vision I can't really share the full errrr..."flavor" of the experience, but trust me, a visit to this location will not be added to any of the scenic or historical tours any time soon.

I emphasized the word "free" because it costs absolutely nothing.  I also emphasized "legally" because that's a big problem here.  With the exception of maybe once a year on Earth Day, I know when you live on the mainland you probably don't spend a whole heck of a lotta time thinking about where your stuff goes when you get rid of it.  It just "goes away", right?  Well, when you live on an island, it really has no where to go. 

It's one thing to deal with our own trash, but when you figure that during the height of the season the population explodes from approximately 3,500 year-round to 10,000 visitors per day - it's a bit much. (Don't 'spose y'all would like to take your vacation trash back home with you?  No?  Just think of it as a special souvenir.) Not too long ago the city incinerated trash.  It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this wasn't going to be particularly healthy, the pollution and what not that resulted wasn't helping our air quality and again, it really has no where to go. So in an attempt to deal with some of the problem, in 2002 a recycling program was started.  For residences - this has got to be the most easy peasy thing ever - you pick up a big roll of free blue recycling bags at City Hall, fill it with all your recyclables, and put it out with the regular trash pick up.  No sorting of glass from plastic from paper into different colored bins or any of that - it's all sorted at the facility for you. (Yes, businesses have to sort but they have a greater quantity so that seems fair.) It couldn't be easier.  

So why don't more people do it?

Of course besides the traditional "trash" trash, there's all the other stuff I mentioned at the beginning - with nasty hazardous chemicals that you don't want getting into your soil or your water.  There's also the big stuff - old furniture, broken appliances, construction debris - you get the idea.  Despite the fact that the city and it's contracted company provide facilities for disposing of these things and make it as easy as possible, including offering to come and pick up the stuff twice a year for free, illegal dumping is still a huge problem.  

Not long ago I was driving away from a friend's storage container and saw this sign:

You think they're kidding about cameras and prosecuting?  They aren't.  I've been on the receiving end of someone's illegal dumping more than once, and wow did I wish I'd had a camera to catch the little crudballs.  It's just so aggravating!  I have enough of my own crap to get rid of, I don't need someone else's too! And when it happens, you know darn well that it's not out of ignorance.   Yes, this isn't really published in any of the tourism brochures so a casual visitor to the island may not know.  But for residents, the general info on what to do or not do, where to put it, when, what, and how - is readily available.

So I think the answer to my question above and the reason for the illegal dumping is the same.


1 comment:

sea mystery said...

I hear you, girl. We have the same problem here, only they send everyone else's trash by way of our railroad. So if there's a derailment or a problem, we end up dealing with it. I've never been there personally, but I've been stuck in traffic tie-ups behind garbage trucks. Perfumed they are not! And, God forbid, you open a window. Ew!!! xxoo