Otherwise, he does a great job pointing out that people really don't take responsibility for preserving resources or keeping the city clean unless there's a law requiring them to. Mennonno talks about having recently biked through the South End in attempts to be environmentally conscious, only to find the streets difficult to navigate, as they were strewn with piled-up and broken-open trash bags. He mentions the pointless rubbish code and his attempts to bring it to the attention of the city:
But the city’s “rubbish rules” do nothing to discourage it. While the rubbish code states that “There must be sufficient metal or durable plastic barrels for storing of refuse generated in building,” it contradicts this dictate on the very next line: “Disposable 2-ply [or heavier] plastic bags may be used instead of trash barrels for curbside trash collection.” In short: you MUST use trash barrels, but you don’t have to.
Of course, as is usually the case when contacting city officials, he received a reply from someone who didn't read and/or understand his e-mail. The told him to contact code enforcement, but that would be pointless -- the bags all the hell over the place don't violate any code, which is exactly the point he was making.
However, I think there's another solution to the trash bags all over the place. While it might not make sense to require barrels for every single load of trash, because it's pointless and wasteful to buy an extra barrel because you had a party or cleaned out your attic, why doesn't the city just start fining people for placing any recyclable item in the trash? They wouldn't be going around breaking people's trash bags open, of course, but code enforcement could have someone walk around and cite any household with visible recyclables in a trash barrel or bag. They could also periodically follow the refuse truck around and break open every 10th bag into the truck or something. Visible recyclables would warrant one of those green tickets affixed to the house like people receive for putting trash out before 5pm in neighborhoods where the city actually cares about such things. The city could easily afford periodic enforcement with the money they'd be saving on landfill service.
Just the fact of something being a law encourages a good number of people to abide by it. In my neighborhood, for instance, I seriously doubt that code enforcement has ever come around ticketing people for putting trash out before 5pm, but I never see trash outside before 5. Why? Because there's a law, and people know this. I do, however, see barrels full of recyclables every trash day and I see houses on the street that have never put out a recycling bin since I've lived there. Much like the 5pm law, a recycling law would send a message that the community does not accept recyclables being thrown away. It would at least lead to more recycling than is currently happening.