Urge folks to recycle

It is good news for consumers that Island County’s contracted garbage collector, Waste Connections, withdrew its request to charge customers another $4 a month to launch a recycling program. It was simply too much and too mandatory for most Whidbey Island residents to accept.

The county’s reaction to Waste Connection’s decision does not appear to be heading in the right direction, however. Staff members have spoken somewhat longingly of another company’s decision to bring voluntary recycling to Camano Island residents for $7.40 a month. It’s easy to predict that few if any Camano residents will jump at the change to pay even more to dispose of their trash. The voluntary part of the program is sure to be short-lived.

It’s not that islanders don’t care about recycling, it’s just that most prefer to do it themselves. The county recycle parks are busy every day with people unloading glass bottles, plastic containers, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, tin and aluminum cans, cardboard and other recyclables. To the county’s credit, there is no charge to dispose of these recyclable materials. And with prices for many metals at an all-time high, we suspect the county is at least breaking even on the program.

Why then should islanders be forced to stay home and recycle their trash at their own curbsides, and pay for the pleasure? They’re already doing it for free, and it’s kind of fun to go to the recycle park and meet people you haven’t seen in a while. It’s the one greatest social gathering place on the island that doesn’t get mentioned in the tourist brochures.

Island County already knows the key to recycling: Make it free and make it fun. The best approach is to better advertise the existing program, which is quite excellent. Some elderly or disabled folks can’t make it to the recycle center, so encourage civic and school groups to help them out.

We can be proud of our recycling rate without filling the pockets of a corporate trash hauling company. It’s the island way.

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