Garbage as luxury.
What if garbage disposal was expensive, like Prada expensive? So if I don’t buy Prada because I can’t afford it, then I don’t create garbage because I can’t afford it. Garbage as luxury. The Jamb Juice Styrofoam cup Nicole Richie consummately carries could be as precious as her Christian Louboutin heels.
Imagine it costs $100 a pound to dispose of garbage. As a result when you purchase an item in a store, your decision making process now factors in the cost of disposal, of the product itself and/ or the packaging, before you purchase. We need a push/ accelerator/ catalyst to expedite the emergence of creative thinking & solutions to the garbage problem. Money will do that. Cost has done wonders for the gas crisis. I hope prices continue to rise- look at all of the investment & advancements in alternative energy. Electric cars used to be freakish things, and now we have an electric pickup truck that does 0 to 60 in 10 seconds.
In the case of Marrakesh restaurant, where I ate lunch today, the cashier tried to hand me a Styrofoam cup. I refused it and used my own glass at the soda fountain (violating some OSHA rule I am sure). Given my exploration of Styrofoam last evening, I realized it is actually cheaper for the restaurant to purchase Styrofoam cups (1000 16 oz. Styrofoam cups is $51.57) that to have reusable glass ones (and a commercial dishwasher, a hired dishwasher, increased water & electric bills). As a for-profit business, it is the right decision. In many cases like this, the economic breakdown is in favor of garbage.
However, if those cheap-o Styrofoam cups now cost $100 a day in disposal fees, suddenly the infrastructure & daily costs of a glass cups is starting to look comparable, or even better than Styrofoam. (During lunch, Jon Cho pointed out that this will simply drive people towards illegal dumping, but let’s entertain this idea a little longer)
Officially, the EPA calls this concept Pay as You Throw. It’s a not-so-extreme version of what I suggested above. In Austin, it costs $15 (plus tax!) to change the size of your garbage cart (that’s for an upsize or downsize- no real incentive there). Austin’s monthly rates are as follows.
30 gallon cart: $11.75 a month
60 gallon cart: $14.50 a month
90 gallon cart: $17.25 a month
The cost difference from the smallest can to the largest is a whole $5.50 per month, to create 240 extra gallons (60 gallons x 4 pickups per month) of garbage a month. Ooooo. $5.50. I’m scared.
I realize the point of public utilities is to provide the least inflated, most beneficial price to the citizen, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors here. We’ve only come to take it for granted and create problems with over consumption & massive landfills. What if we upped the price of garbage disposal and gave the profits to our schools? Or homeless cats?
Day 5: Personal garbage results
Confession time. A lot of people around the office have noticed that I have not exactly had my garbage within 5 feet of me at all times. It tends to linger in a rucksack on my desk or wherever my computer is, but I often forget to bring it to the snack room, bathroom, or on a run to the fax machine. And my loving colleagues have taken great care to give me trash talk about this. So starting tomorrow, I will wear a back pack, with my garbage in it.
I have to amend yesterday’s total. I added 2 straws to the pile last night. They were served in my margarita and it was too late to refuse it. Today’s total: No garbage! Here is my cumulative total for Day 5 (will post in the morning, my camera battery just ran out!)