Monday, January 13, 2014

Survey Says: Recycle

The City of Richardson says it is committed to increasing recycling and wants residents' input to identify ways to improve the current recycling program. So, it's conducting a survey. Well, OK. The "survey" reads a little more like an advertising campaign to increase awareness of the existing recycling program, with questions like this:

Where do you currently get your blue bags? (Select all that apply.)
  • Purchase them at Heights Recreation Center
  • Purchase them at Huffhines Recreation Center
  • Purchase them at the Senior Center
  • Purchase them from City Hall
  • Purchase them from the Municipal Service Center
  • Redeem free offer listed in the Mayor's yearly residential recycling letter
  • Picked up free bags at the Trash Bash
  • Picked up free bags at the Cottonwood Art Festival
  • Picked up free bags at the Wildflower! Arts & Musical Festival
  • Picked up free bags at the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association (CPAAA) Recycling Day
  • Picked up free bags at Huffhines Art Trails event
  • Picked up free bags at City Wide Pet Day
  • Picked up free bags at the America Recycles Day
  • I purchase them from the grocery store

The city doesn't need the survey to find out the answer to this question. Surely, the city has better information about how many rolls of blue bags are distributed through each of these outlets than any information this unscientific survey is going to collect. But maybe some people taking the survey will learn about a different, more convenient outlet, so OK, I get it. (Not only do I get it, I did it myself -- I used my blog post to spread useful information. You're welcome, City of Richardson. ;-)

Where the city just might learn something from its survey is from the open ended questions, the fill-in-the-blank for what the city could do to make recycling easier. After the jump, my own answer.

I already recycle plastics, glass, metal cans, and paper (all curbside, in blue bags -- thank you, Richardson). I also take advantage of electronics recycling, paper shredding, and hazardous household waste drop-off. I also call the city to collect tree branches (like from the recent ice storm).

But there's one opportunity for recycling that I do *not* take part in. That's recycling of grass clippings or raked leaves. I confess, that's out of laziness; the city doesn't make this as easy as it makes recycling of, say, plastic. The city says, "You must put your leaves and small twigs in biodegradable bags...Biodegradable bags can be purchases [sic] at various locations such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot...Call 972-744-4111, select prompt 2 or 3 to leave a message for a Special Collection/Brush."

My suggestion: Subsidize the purchase of biodegradable bags the same way the city subsidizes the purchase of blue bags (free for the first two rolls each year). Then, make collection as automatic as the blue bag recycling collection is today. Do that and the city would get even lazy people like me recycling my yard clippings, too.

Oh, by the way, the city is giving away four $50 gift cards to Lowe's and Home Depot to randomly selected people who take the survey. If paying people to take a survey gets results, maybe the city should give away gift cards to randomly selected people who recycle raked leaves instead of putting them out for the regular trash pickup.

1 comment:

mccalpin said...

We were just part of one of the focus groups that preceded the community-wide meetings next week. Two large points came out of it:
1. Make recycling even easier by not having people try to read the tiny print on plastics to see which one it is, but just have people throw all of the plastic in, and have someone else sort it later.
2. In terms of your (accurate) grass comment, make the paper bags for yard waste freely available to least in our part of town, the majority of such yard waste is generated by landscaping crews. If you gave them free bags and told them to just leave the bags on the curb, this would be easier than anything else they would have to do - which means that they would voluntarily (and happily) do it.

Oh, and yes, the survey clearly was intended partially as a teaching mechanism...but I guess that's not so bad, is it?