Our View

Taking out the garbage

By From page A6 | March 04, 2014

The issue: Leaf bins will help city meet its mandate

Davis has always been on the cutting edge of environmental progress, and whenever presented with a challenge, we’ve been able to ditch the old ways and do our part to help.

SO IT IS now, as state government pushes toward a net zero waste future, that the City Council saw an opportunity to cut into the amount of compostable material going into the Yolo County Landfill. The key is to get all those kitchen scraps — banana peels, leftover oatmeal and the like — out of the regular trash and into compost bins. But as things stand, loose organic matter is limited to picking up lawn clippings from the gutter in front of our homes, leaving no way to get those household scraps out of the waste stream.

The answer is a third bin, to go with the garbage and recycling containers we already set out every week. Into this, we can throw grass clippings, leaves and other yard waste — along with organic kitchen leftovers — and send the whole mess to make compost. As a bonus, moving the leaves and grass out of the gutter will keep the storm drains clean and remove an obstacle to cyclists in a bike-happy town.

City staff put together several options to handle the switch. The one that would have the biggest environmental impact (and save ratepayers some money) envisioned using bins exclusively to handle organic waste, along with a reduction in street sweeping. But, after hearing concerns from residents (pruned branches may not fit in the bins, after all), the council hedged and chose an option that will allow weekly loose-leaf pickup for the two months when leaf drop is at its heaviest, along with this type of pickup monthly. Otherwise, everything goes in the new container.

THIS OPTION will cost ratepayers a few dollars more per month. It’s not ideal — loose leaves still will go into the storm drains, and the streets still will have to be swept weekly — but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

We used to put our grass in plastic bags for pickup. When we switched to loose piles, there was grumbling and resistance but we got used to it. Now we can’t imagine another way, but we’ll get used to green bins, too. And maybe when we see that it’s not that big a deal, we can go whole-hog and abandon loose piles altogether.

Progress always seems to be a step-by-step process.

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