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Mandatory recycling plan would make sense for Whidbey | Commentary

Disappointment and, I confess, a little anger came over me as I read your poorly-informed June 4 editorial, “Urge folks to recycle.” In that column you applauded the death of a mandatory county-wide curbside recycling program, because its proposed cost was $4 a month.

While I sympathize with your feeling that you’d rather have a bit more money in your pocket than not, I can’t escape the wish that your values were a bit more skewed toward creating a livable society than, say, buying your monthly latte. Urging people to recycle has been this county’s excuse-for-a-policy for decades yet our recycle rate remains embarrassingly low. You failed to consider that most county residents could probably reduce their trash output enough through recycling, that they would be eligible for a cheaper rate from the trash company, thus saving at least the money they’d be spending on a $4 recycling bill.

I detailed many benefits of recycling in my last letter to this page. One of those is that recycling generates a wellspring of materials like paper, plastics, and tin, for much less money than creating those same materials from raw sources. Imagine the benefits of that availability to local companies like the ones that will soon build our ferries! Imagine how much General Motors, which just announced the closure of four North American manufacturing plants, would appreciate a cheaper source of aluminum, steel and glass.

It’s also worth repeating that recycling saves gobs of energy, which is finally being recognized as a national security priority. Author Thomas Friedman has written for years about how Americans’ oil purchases fund Iran’s efforts to kill our troops in Iraq. Iran uses petro dollars to build roadside bombs and train terrorists, as well as fund their illegal uranium enrichment program. Remember too, that 16 of the 19 9-11 hijackers were Saudis, from a country made rich by our energy appetite. Is America just going to sit back and take 9-11, or are we willing to change our ways and stick it to these guys? Let’s try making energy-rich areas politically irrelevant. Recycling, and otherwise reducing America’s energy use, is a fantastic way to support the troops.

In applauding a setback to a county curbside recycling program, you, Whidbey News-Times, celebrated the weakening of America. Is supporting the troops nothing but a car magnet for you? Are you unconcerned that we’re spending gobs of money hauling perfectly usable materials to permanent burial in Eastern Washington landfills?

Wake up, Island County, it’s well past time that we enact a mandatory curbside recycling program, especially since for many people, it could be cost-neutral.

Bob Hallahan lives in Oak Harbor.

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