Authority Figures

Part of the joys of owning a home is interacting with your local municipality. Mine happens to be Chelsea, MI. One of the services offered to the city residents is free curb-side pickup of recyclable materials. It’s a pretty good program; I get a majority of my consumables taken away for free and the city gets to sell these materials to whoever they want. I hear recycling makes some money, not a lot, but enough to keep it going.

Well, I’m sick of dealing with the people they send to “pick up” my recycling. I use quotes there because rarely, if ever, have they taken all of my things. In fact, I often find things they deem unacceptable left either in the bucket I put out or, usually, in my driveway. I can deal with that (really I can). It’s not a glamorous job, I get that. I’d probably be pretty pissed if once a week I had to tool through town and pick up other people’s garbage, no matter how non-organic it is.

But when these anonymous people start leaving me meaningless notes in the containers, which still contain the items I put out, I’m pretty much through. I’ll still recycle, but I’ll do it myself. I got this in my paper bucket today (with paper still in it).

Click for full size

First, let’s break down the message here. I’m supposed to separate “paper, magazines, and cardboard”. Which is fine, except that if I take my recycling (as I will be doing) to a drop-off I don’t have to do that. I can shove all the newspaper, printouts, shreddings, napkins, paper plates, magazines, and tech manuals I want into the same slot. It’s called “Miscellaneous Paper”. The other slot is “Cardboard”. (Side note, it’s corrugated paper; cardboard is not the same thing.) I digress… I can handle that, that makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense is this OCD-like need to separate newspaper from other “paper”. Why do I have to do that at the curb-side, but not at the bloody huge collection dumpsters located everywhere? And while the technology for paper recycling is up to snuff that I can leave staples and tape on the cereal boxes I put out, it’s not sophisticated enough to differentiate between white office paper and newspaper.

Second, why the hell is every friggen line on the page highlighted? How does that accentuate the message? And what the hell is a bottle “with a thin neck”? What’s the threshold for necks on plastic bottles? I don’t know, but I know it’s somewhere between a milk jug (which they’ll take) and a bottle of Pom (which they won’t take). Or, maybe it’s closer to a bottle of Planter’s peanut oil, which got picked up the second time I put it out. Maybe they should issue micrometers with the recycling buckets so we can spec our recyclable containers. Don’t even get me started on numbered plastics.

So, I’m done with curb-side recycling, at least here. I’ll still bring my stuff to the dumpster recycling stations; apparently that’s the Wild West of recycling; anything goes (and I’m not kidding, you should see the crap people dump there). My only question is, now that I’ve scanned this leaflet, does it go in with my office paper or, since it apparently was to me, the news?

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