Monday, October 25, 2004

Pots and pans, metal cans, bought or traded or sold

The Ottawa Citizen, for some reason, has endorsed the notion of a deposit on recyclable cans. As I've mentioned in the past, I drink a lot of Pepsi. (A lot of Pepsi. Diet Pepsi, to be precise; I tend to go through two to three cases per month.) I live in an apartment building, and I recycle my cans, because it's convenient. All I have to do is leave them in the blue box in the garbage room. That makes the actual conclusion of the provincial report and the thrust of the editorial skew, from my perspective, maddeningly apart: Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky says her ministry is focused on improving collection rates from large facilities -- commercial buildings and apartments and so on -- and getting small municipalities to run good blue-box programs. But she acknowledges that a deposit-return system is on her list of things to look at. Deposits encourage returns insofar as it is convenient to do so. I have no car; carrying the large quantities of empty cans I generate the several blocks back to Hartman's, the closest grocery store, would be greatly inconvenient for me. Why should I be punished with a five-cent-per-can surcharge because I can't easily participate in the state's negative-reinforcement behaviour experiment? If a deposit on cans was enacted in Ontario, I wouldn't even bother with placing them in the correct box here in my building; I'd throw them in the garbage, out of spite. If it's not inconvenient, I'll recycle. I don't mind that. I do resent social engineering, because it can only lead to folly - folly such as this: My dad, before he retired, spent the last fifteen years of his teaching career running the local high school's canoeing club. They would usually go on two camping trips each school year, rotating between the Noir and Madawaska Rivers. Large-scale trips of twenty to thirty people like that cost money - not just for food and supplies, but to wholly fund independently buying canoes and gear. The club would, therefore, engage in several fundraising events throughout the year. The most successful was their rummage sale, held in the school auditorium; it became a local institution, with many around town relying on their eagerness for donations to annually haul away anything big, heavy, and worth a few bucks. The least successful was collecting cans for the scrap metal value. The above photo represents two years' work in collecting, bagging, and hauling cans from the high school itself, as well as contributions from homes of club members. The value of all those cans? $500. That, to me, seems like a fairly ludicrous means of raising money. If every member of the club worked a minimum-wage job, it would have taken them about three hours apiece to make the same amount. Yet no one thought to raise this concern; recycling is good, doncha know. The cult of environmentalism continues to induce otherwise-rational people to do strange things, and government shouldn't be imposing the tithe of a can deposit to support their lunatic gospels.

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