by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Sure, there are many important issues in Seattle at the moment: the minimum wage, marijuana legalization, a new mayor. But as I wheeled my overflowing garbage bin to the curb this morning, kicking the fallen items onto my neighbor’s lawn, I noticed a headline in the newspaper (my neighbor’s newspaper, which I later stole) indicating that the Seattle City Council is considering reducing garbage pickup from weekly to every other week. The whole thing stinks to me (that was supposed to be a garbage joke).
It’s all part of a new “One Less Truck” initiative (how about a “One Less Initiative” initiative?). By potentially minimizing the regularity of garbage pickup, the city is hoping to reduce overall costs, and encourage more recycling and composting (if you put a gun to my head and ask me to explain how composting works, I would be killed).
Recently, Seattle Public Utilities implemented a pilot program in four lucky neighborhoods, and even though the participants were paid $100, customer satisfaction with the biweekly pickup was at 63 percent, far lower than the 89 percent satisfaction with current weekly pickup (I was never polled!). Those most dissatisfied with the program included people in large households, lower-income neighborhoods, and homes with pets and babies (they poop a lot).
What mainly perturbed customers is that while halving the pickup rate may slightly reduce the garbage bill, it would not reduce it by half (what?). SPU said that this is because the garbage bill pays for others things as well, including recycling pickup, the painting over of graffiti, and having to regularly Febreeze the garbage dump. It’s also worth noting (I think) that some customers may elect to purchase a bigger garbage bin to store the two weeks of buildup, which will add to the cost. Is the city using the guise of greener living to simply cut down on their expenses? I don’t know. This isn’t “The Ethicist.”
You know who’s truly responsible for this? Raccoons. Their filthy paws are all over this initiative. Less garbage pickup means more buildup and smell, making it far easier for them to rummage through your pizza boxes and yogurt cups and wrappers for those caramels at the checkout that you try not to buy but they just look so good. Raccoons are experts at knocking over bins and dragging everything all over your front lawn like they just broke up with you.
In some areas, residents must store their garbage bins inside their garages. With the two weeks of garbage buildup, that could lead to more aggressive raccoons smashing windows and repelling down the chimney to get at that sweet, sweet garbage. The only thing that may stop them will be the coven of rats already surrounding the garbage. Is that what City Council wants? A massive raccoon/rat war engulfing the city? And whose side will you choose? Who will better lead us out from the ashes of war?
I hope City Council thoughtfully considers these very important questions. This is one of those issues that need a great deal of study before implementation, because God knows I don’t want it to happen. When I think about the amount of garbage that I generate, the buckets of chicken bones and dead bodies and boxes of pictures of my ex-girlfriends, I worry about having those things in my garage for any longer than they need to be. Yes, I could learn to produce less waste and live a greener life, but at what cost? My soul! And my time, probably.