By Ryan McGreal
Published June 22, 2005
The hue and cry has begun over proposed new rules for garbage collection in Hamilton.
Fair-weather libertarian opponents are gnashing their teeth and rending their vestments over the restrictions on their right to throw everything into one bag (or, in the case of Hamilton, six bags).
Supporters are telling opponents to stop being so selfish and just get with the program.
Right now, the proposed legislation lumps two separate issues together in one container: diverting more waste away from landfills and reducing the public nuisance that surrounds garbage. This makes it more difficult to dispose of either properly.
People are reasonably incensed about the heavy-handed regulations on when to bring garbage out and collect empty bins, not to mention adding insult to inuury by slapping fines on people who already have to pick raccoon-strewn garbage off the front lawn.
Unfortunately, this anger threatens to undermine the more critical issue: reducing waste by recycling and composting applicable materials.
Just as the new legislation requires people to separate recyclables from garbage, City Council should separate the ecological goal from the more nannyish 'garbage etiquette' goal. Drop the micromanagement and push harder on reducing garbage, and opponents will have a lot less to complain about.
The goal of one black bag per family is not hard to attain. My four-person family produces, on average, one grocery bag of garbage a week. We accomplish this goal not through herculean efforts but simply by purchasing less heavily packaged goods, recycling everything that can be recycled, and composting everything that can be composted.
Even our two-year-old knows the difference between the garbage bag and the recycling bag. It's not rocket science.
Let's not let the noble, simple goal of garbage reduction be contaminated by dumping a lot of arbitrary, nitpicking regulations around it.