Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County remains unenlightened about recycling

We voters had a civics test on Tuesday.

We failed.

And no, I'm not talking about the election of our new governor, though his leadership of a health care company that … ah, never mind. Obviously nobody cares.

I'm talking about the question the County Commission and Utilities Department put to voters: Do you want to join the enlightened world when it comes to recycling?

No, you said, by more than a 2-to-1 margin, we prefer to stay in the dark ages.

We now recycle about 6.5 percent of our trash, while an analysis has shown we could easily bring that up above 50 percent, said utilities director Joe Stapf.

That means that our new $9.5 million landfill cell, which could last us 25 years, will be jam-packed in 15. We're unnecessarily causing aluminum ore to be mined, trees to be cut down, oil to be pumped and turned into plastic.

I'm not sure everybody understands this, though Stapf and his department certainly did their best to get the word out. Failure number one: not studying up on the issue.

Failure number two: hypocrisy. Everybody says they want to streamline government services, and the new automated collection and once-a-week pickup would have been cheaper for the haulers and for us.

The county could have closed its convenience stations. And by not having to pay the contractor that empties the recycling collection bins and by increasing the flow of material, the county probably could have turned a profit on recycling.

Some voters were worried that the bins were too big and cumbersome. But if the people who seemed most concerned about this, elderly residents living alone, removed their recyclables, they could almost certainly get by with one of the smaller bins. These are a lot more manageable than the monsters most of us use now.

There were complaints from people in gated communities, who said they didn't have room to store all the bins. Well, as it stands now, you need at least one garbage can as well as several receptacles for different kinds of materials you recycle. Oh, you mean you don't recycle? You know, that's what I thought.

I guess I can understand why some people want their garbage picked up more than once a week. Stapf heard this a lot. But depending on your neighborhood, you can compost your stinkiest waste. Stapf says he stores his food waste in a freezer until collection day. My experience in a lifetime of forgetting to take my trash out to the street on time is that a few extra days usually doesn't make much of a difference.

Or it wouldn't seem like much of a difference if you cared about the world you're leaving your children and grandchildren. Apathy, in other words. Failure to take on your civic duty.

Though I pity Stapf, with his class of slow learners and attitude cases, he's a patient teacher. He's listened. Some people, for example, told him they liked the convenience stations because that's where they take their old oil and mercury-laden fluorescent light bulbs. He'll try to accommodate them the next time this comes up.

And it will, eventually, because 6.5 percent just isn't acceptable. Stapf's talking about pilot programs, maybe a system of smaller, more convenient collection bins. Anything to get that grade up.

Hernando County remains unenlightened about recycling 11/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 7:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  4. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  5. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921