Thursday, August 11, 2005

Nashville Scene Editorial Wonders What's Wrong With America, While I Merely Wonder What's Wrong With This Picture

Inside my recycling cart, beginning of summer.

Inside my recycling cart, end of summer.

To be ecclesiastical for a moment: there is a time and a place for everything. There is even a time to be snide. But there is also a time to stop being snide. The Nashville Scene has made its "alternative-paper" reputation on being irreverent. Periodically, being irreverent passes over to deprecation, which is timely on occasion. But sometimes being alternative, just because they can, causes Scene writers to go to the belittler's well one too many times and they appear overblown and irrelevant.

In this week's Scene editorial, Liz Garrigan and John Spragens go to that well one too many times by unfairly overgeneralizing about consumer waste in order to support the notorious trash stomp and Nashville's recycling program, which has been ineffective at times. They flame 8,000 people who took Metro at its word when it promised them earlier in the year the option of a second bin. They flame anybody who begs to differ with Chase Anderson's clumsy approach to Solid Waste's public relations. They flame critics of the Nashville Recycling Program, even the well-intentioned who want to create as little waste as possible but who still demand that their government effectively pick up their trash and haul it out rather than dumping it in their neighborhoods when it's not recyclable. They flame America, ya'll: even those of us in America who support conservation and environmentalism and who believe that improvements to trash pick-up and the recycling program deter "rampant consumerism" and inoculate the idea of recycling from the conservative will-to-kill worthwhile government programs.

Garrigan and Spragens are over-the-top and out-of-their-league in what has to be one of the Scene's least fine editorial moments in the twelve or so years I have been reading the paper. By being indiscriminate in their deprecation they exhibit the head-in-the-clouds flaw to which we progressives are prone when our remote theory does not interface with ground-level practice: irrelevance.

While they presume to diagnose the problem of solid waste management and suggest that people like me are part of the problem, they haven't walked in my shoes to see that despite my best efforts, recycling has not worked on my street. My preused recycling cart was dropped off the truck with nonrecyclables already in it and the recyclables that have appeared in it are not being hauled off by Curby to be recycled. Recently, I picked up some of the trash that litters my street. I didn't go far; three doors down on either side of the street and I filled a 13-gallon trash bag, which I threw in my one-and-only 96-gallon recycling cart. Now I only have 83 gallons left for our trash; going to even farther uber-environmentalist lengths of picking up trash across my block would probably have rendered only half the cart's capacity for my family's garbage. Yet, if I dare request a second bin for my good deeds, I join the ranks of "the spoiled," according to Garrigan and Spragens.

I would invite them to my house to help me figure out what I'm doing wrong, but I'm a little bit afraid that they would tell me that I should have stomped down the street trash in that 13-gallon bag before putting it in my own cart in order to get 1 or 2 more gallons of space for my family's trash. The reason I'm afraid is that one of the items I picked up out of the street was a used disposable diaper. Call me fastidious, but I don't like the idea of stomping on used disposable diapers someone else threw in the street.

1 comment:

  1. Michael - If you haven't already done so, you should re-package this post and send it into the Scene. I was extremely irritated when I read Garrigan's piece, but all I did was fret and fume. Glad someone voiced the frustration many of us felt after reading that piece of bilge.

    Good writing (as usual).