Improve Boston in so many ways without spending a cent

From the City of Boston recycling page:

For every ton of bottles, cans, and plastic containers that residents recycle (rather than throw away in the trash), the City saves $80. That means that a 1% change in the City’s recycling rate would save more than $200,000 each year.

Next time you complain about something in the city being underfunded, take a second to make sure you aren't putting recyclables in the trash. Even better, make sure you're telling your neighbors to do the same. The city trash regulations say that recyclables may not go in the trash, so if you're a landlord or a member of a homeowners association, make sure you're telling your tenants or your fellow HOA members that they need to be following the city regulations. Also, reduce your trash output even further by composting (there are many options for composting on a balcony or even in your kitchen) and encourage the city to start collecting curbside compostables.

But what we really need to do is get the city to do pay-as-you-throw metered trash:

Communities have doubled and even tripled their recycling rates after implementing the WasteZero System.

The programs are fair. When the cost of trash disposal is hidden in property taxes or charged at a flat rate, households that recycle and prevent waste subsidize their neighbors' wastefulness. Under Trash Metering, households pay only for what they throw away.

Or, at the very least, we need to get them to enforce the code when people are filling trash cans and trash bags with obvious recyclables. This would get revenue for the city and get people to stop killing the planet as much. Hmm, I wonder if a massive Citizens Connect movement over the next few trash days would get anything done? We could submit hundreds of reports of recyclables in the trash.

By the way, while we're talking about the city and its recycling programs, I still think the giant plastic recycling bags are stupid for the most part. I might get some once in a while for massive file-cabinet cleanouts, but otherwise, I still don't think these bags are going to get people to recycle who can't be bothered to put out recycling in paper bags or blue bins. However, if they're going to have such a program, how about if they sell the bags in all of the neighborhoods where the program is active? There aren't any locations in Roxbury, South Boston, or Mission Hill, all of which are allowed to use the bags. As usual, we know which neighborhoods city hall cares about.


Let's play MBTA bingo!

Over at Universal Hub, Adam is in the process of creating an MBTA bingo game. As one might guess, most of the boxes are annoying things -- train out of service, person sprawled across two seats, and bottle rolling around. There are also some positive/funny things, like clinical studies ad, Zipcar ad, and dog.

I love people-watching as much as the next guy, and my readers should know by now that this also includes a healthy dose of snarking, but really, I think the bingo cards need more happy things to look for. The T, as with any crowded space of randomly selected people, can be quite the annoying place as it is.

Here are the ones I've submitted so far:

  • Sweet parent-child interaction
  • Quietly reading a book
  • Colorful shoes
  • Person making something
  • Classy/subtle PDA
  • Litter-picker-upper
  • Operator visible from first car
  • Person offering seat
  • Healthy snack
What others can people think of? Positive, neutral, funny, annoying, happy, etc? Go over to the thread and add away!


This bag is not a toy

A plastic bag just showed up rubber-banded to our front railing. Look, it even has the mayor's name on it, lest you forget who the mayor is while putting it in a crib or whatever it is people do with plastic bags:


Oh, and it also came with an instruction sheet, including which neighborhoods are allowed to use it:


According to this sheet, not only can I put my recyclables in this bag, but I can also go spend my own money to buy more similar bags, rather than using the big wheely cart that showed up for free, or a box or paper bag that are also available in many locations for free

Now, I'm a huge fan of recycling, and I support anything that encourages recycling (and I especially support things that keep people's shit contained and not blowing around in my street), but what? The way that the city is choosing to encourage recycling is to spend money giving out plastic bags?

How about if they start enforcing the city code, which says that recyclables are not permitted in trash and that trash and recycling all need to be securely contained? They could change a lot of people's behavior really quickly and get a lot of revenue for the city if they fined all the people who put out bags and cans full of obvious recyclables. These bags aren't going to change the behavior of people who don't follow regulations and don't respect their neighborhoods.