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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 21, 2008 4:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was Are you like me?. The next post in this blog is The next bad-infill battleground. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

What's green and blue and won't fit in the garage?

After 15 months of talking about them, those clean, shiny new green and blue recycling rolling carts finally arrived at our house late last week, as they have all over Portland in recent weeks. They're lovely -- much nicer than the garbage bill increases that came along with them, effective July 1. The green one is for yard debris, the blue one for other recycling. We're adjusting the waste disposal rituals at our house to take advantage of the covered carts.

Already there are problems, of course. One maddening one is that they dumped off the new carts without giving us a chance to get rid of any of our old recycling gear. We are active recyclers, and we already had two yellow recycling bins and a large rolling cart for our sometimes-oversize yard debris loads, which we pay extra to have the hauler cart away. Indeed, the old yard debris cart is bigger than the new one.

We suppose they'll be telling us to use the old yellow bins for glass, which needs to be kept out of the other recycling, but we already have a nice, reused plastic bucket with a handle, which works just fine for that purpose. One or the other is going to have to go, because we don't have room for (a) a garbage can, (b) a blue recycling cart, (c) a green yard debris cart, (d) the old yard debris cart, (e) the old yellow recycling bins, and (f) the bucket for glass.

Is there going to be a program of collecting the old bins and carts? Or are we supposed to cut them up and throw them in the landfill? Yikes, how many of those old yellow recycling bins are going to wind up in the landfill?

Elsewhere, neighbors are giving the new carts a chilly reception for other reasons. It's not that they want the hauler to come and take away their old gear -- they don't want the new stuff in the first place. One resident writes:

We're having some problems with the city/haulers regarding the massive new roll carts.

We live in one of the city’s TOD (transit-oriented developments) with the small townhouses you love to hate. The garage opening is wide enough for a car, but not a car and a roll cart. Our [homeowner association] rules prohibit carts staying outside. We've called multiple city offices (Office of Sustainable Development, Saltzman’s office, Adams’s office) to say that the carts aren’t feasible in our complex (the woman across from us is in her 80s), and their response is that trying them for 30 days is mandatory before switching down to 30 gallons. They also stuck us all with 60-gallon yard debris carts, even though we have no yards. They claim everyone in the pilot program preferred the larger carts.

There are owners trying to sell their homes and realtors upset with all the carts outside. Half of the townhomes have no driveways, making this choice of cart even more inappropriate. One city higher-up told us to tell our neighbors to "chill."

OSD: "Welcome to Portland, here’s your new 60-gallon roll cart bin! (x2)"

The thought of an infill condo owner being unhappy with the City of Portland version of sustainability does warm our heart. But gee, in a city with 200 or more bureaucrat planners on the payroll, you would think that a changeover like this one would have been better... you know, planned.

Comments (21)

They claim everyone in the pilot program preferred the larger carts.

Translation: All five people who attended the "Sustainable Transportation and Disposal Options for Residences" charrette liked the pictures of the bigger cans.

We have lots of planners making plans and it's called planning.

That's what "planners" do.

But with so many planners doing so much planning of plans why do so many of the plans simply suck and it's all declared green, sustainable and good?

Our house recycles fairly conscientiously but I'm wanting to take it another step. Can I order another bin for worn out high-handed city policy wonks?

I'm waiting for the TV News folks to show us who is sorting all the recycled contributions and where.

Does the old recycling bin fit inside the new one? If so, problem solved. Just push it out to the curb on pick up day.

It is so much fun watching the goings-on in
"the city that works" from out here in the boondocks. I don't have to read the funny papers anymore.

Our garbage hauler left me with the old 96 gallon yard debris cart that I had been paying extra for. (They dropped off a blue recycling cart, but not the new green one.)

That last bill I got showed that I still had the 96 gallon cart, but at no cost.

I couldn't believe it, someone actually did something reasonable, they left me with my old cart, so they didn't have to dispose of it and pay for giving me a new one. (The 96 gallon yard debris cart is no longer in the fee schedule so they can't charge for it from what I understand.)

I've heard from one person who has a problem with the recycling cart, the problem is that yard debris and garbage are collected via the ally, but recycling is collected from the front of the house. The problem being is that there is no way, other than stairs, to get the cart from the only place it can be stored in the back of the house, to the curb in the front. (The recycling trucks supposedly can't fit down the ally.) That makes her only choice to leave it at the curb all the time. (There are multiple people including seniors in this neighborhood, that just aren't capable of wheeling a large heavy recycling cart down stairs every week.)

Hey, Abe - the truth is that all this stuff goes to the landfill. Can you imagine the facility it would take to process all the things that are supposedly being "recycled?" Soylent Green is people - and recycling is just another word for garbage.

I like them.

The carts are a little big. We don't have a driveway and have to haul them up and down a few stairs and try to fit them around the corner of our house. it's a tough squeeze.

I'd also like to hear what one can do with the old yellow bins and even our old yard debris can.

You can recycle the yellow bis. Just put them by the curb with a little note asking them to take it away. Simple as that.

I happen to like the new bins.

According to the dead tree stuff they dropped off at our place, Jack, you can now toss the bucket that you used to use for glass into the recycle bin. They gave us a spiffy little bumper sticker that reads "glass only" with instructions to affix it to one of our yellow bins. They suggested that the other yellow bin makes a dandy storage container, although I think there was a number you could call for the city to take it back. I'd post the number, but I recycled the stuff already.

The older I get, the more I realize I majored in the wrong thing in college. Maybe it's not too late. Time to send away for some literature on the urban planning school at PSU.

They're just way too big. How do these things happen?

Does the old recycling bin fit inside the new one? If so, problem solved. Just push it out to the curb on pick up day.

I think the new bins are designed for a mechanical pick up device on the truck, so they all need to be the same size. However, putting the old bin inside the new *would* be a way of recycling it.

I tried the same conversation about the blue recycling bin with our hauler (Waste Management), and, like your reader, they similarly suggested I try it for 30 days before downsizing to 32 gallons. My response was that I had already tried it, I didn't like it, I wouldn't change my mind in 30 days, and we would only be having the same conversation all over again in 30 days if you make me wait. "We'll order one for you, sir".

I'm trying to figure out the hauler's angle here, and I'm guessing it's this: Bigger recycling bin that keeps everything dry = fewer weekly pickups (because they figure you won't bother to haul it to the curb until it's full). Problem is, if it's always at the curb because it won't fit in the garage, and the cover is closed, the hauler has to stop to check it. Am I missing something here?

Portland planners who planned a prim Pearl
Tried to plan a new plan for peeps' pails.
Said the peeps to the planners,
Is it harder to plan
Or to plan only plans that then fail?

And where's the patch of pretty plans and pickled peppers Portland's planners planned?

I seem to remember that, at one point, it was illegal to leave your can and bins at the curb all the time.

Hey...at least the guy in the story had a garage. I don't. Plus, I've got to drag that humungous can down and back up a flight of stairs. Pain in the grass.

Then, I get a note on my car, which is legally parked in front of my house (and usually is, as I tend to walk and use mass transit), that complains that I need to leave enough room for the can to be pulled to the street between the cars....like I have any control over all the other drivers parking on my street. There are three homes without off-street parking and a garbage hauler can't even see that from his/her elevated perch on that big-a***d truck.

I'm not impressed with the end-point mechanical sort which CoP and Metro bought into....catering to the lazy-a***d "might recycle if I don't have to do much" paradigm. Source separation educates; destination separation obscures and encourages the numbnuts to throw trash into the recycling stream.

You can use the old yellow bins to fill the pot holes on the street where you live.

Way back on February 26, I sent this to the Oregonian. Think I heard back?

Dear Mr. Parker:

Would you be so kind as to (a) conduct some sort of survey, (b) inquire
of responsible parties, and (c) write a column about Waste Management
and Washington County, and their new and improved recycling program?


Specifically, here is what is concerning me:

Last week, Waste Management dropped off a 95 gallon container, green
with a bright yellow top, in front of our lot. The literature attached
to the container said that this container was part of a new "Roll Cart
Recycling" program with the follow advantages (1) simple to sort, (2)
materials stay dry (3) more capacity, (4) easy to move and (5) Simple
for haulers to empty. Additionally, and presumably for my benefit,
weekly collection is to be discontinued and replaced with biweekly
collection. And to top it off, they said we would still have to use the
old plastic container for glass items, also to be more-conveniently
picked up biweekly instead of weekly.

What the literature didn't say was where I am to store this butt-ugly
container, why biweekly collection is for my benefit, and who truly
benefits from the change. Now, I already have a 35 gallon green garbage
container in our garage (a two car garage that will not easily also
accommodate a 95 gallon recycling container), a couple of nice, red
recycling containers along the inside garage wall, and a 64 gallon green
yard debris container stashed out of sight under a big, old cedar tree.
I asked Waste Management if I could use the new 95 gallon container for
yard debris. Of course, the answer was "no". But, they did offer to
replace the container with a smaller, 35 gallon recycle container to be
picked up biweekly. No more weekly, three little red containers for us,
no questions asked. When I challenged Waste as to who benefits from
this, they said "it doesn't cost you anything"! Right, and about that
pumpkin wagon I just fell off..... If it truly doesn't cost me
anything, why is Waste Management's labor cost of any concern to me?
Right..... Somehow, this doesn't feel like a neighborhood friendly
proposition, but more like a bureaucratic cram down. Should I really
park one of our cars outside to create space to store Waste Management's
containers, that cost me "nothing"?

So, while we have been reasonably faithful recyclers for lo these many
years, it is coming to a screeching halt. From now on most of the
recycling stuff (except bottles and other glass) will probably find its
way into the weekly garbage collection. Interestingly, a substantial
portion of our recycling material is the daily Oregonian. Risking the
fact that we may have to cancel our forty year subscription if the
garbage container gets too full, I suggest the Oregonian consider going
into the recycling business and pick up its papers on a weekly
schedule. I would pay you guys a bit more a month for this service (but
not too much!).

Now that I have gotten this off of my chest, if I can just get the
neighbors to put their new, green with bright yellow top, Waste
Management recycling container out of sight, and you find out if I am
the lone curmudgeon in the county, maybe my faith in Washington County's
efforts will be restored.

Whoa! This one is sure a hot button!

Big Brother (real names: Sam Adams, Jeff Cogen, et al) says he knows best. I'm going back to Jordan and Syria. I can't see much difference between here and there. Except that they are gaining more freedom while we loose choices.

BTW. A personal rule is, Avoid burning fuel to haul yard debris. Compost it at home, unless you live in an apartment or condo.)


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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
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Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
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Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
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Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
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Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
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Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
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Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
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Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
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David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 109
At this date last year: 151
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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