When we moved to Portland in the 1980s, we
felt we'd fallen down a rabbit hole of municipal trash collection.
Coming from California, we expected city employees would pick up trash.
Not true in Portland, Oregon. And yet the streets were clean and free of trash piles. Trash pickup was quite laissez-faire and provided by about 150 garbage companies freely soliciting business throughout the city. If a company was willing to drive to your house, you could contract for garbage pickup from many price/service choices.
Somewhat akin to the no-zoning in Houston,
Texas, this free-market approach apparently worked. About a year later,
when we bought a house, one of the first items on our move-in
checklist: Who's going to pick up the garbage?
We asked around and saw different garbage
companies did show up (on different days of the week, of course) and
one neighbor recommended a company called "Cloudburst Recycling." As
the name implied, this company was a committed pioneer for curbside
recycling, if on a voluntary, limited basis.
But Portland's quirky libertarian garbage
collection underwent big changes when the State legislature said all
municipalities had to offer curbside recycling of plastics, metals,
paper--the works. This meant a huge capital investment in collection
centers to separate out the trash stream with machinery.
So the City did what municipalities do
under such circumstances. They went elsewhere searching for "strong
hands" to bankroll the capital investment. A partner was found in Waste
Management, Inc. a NYSE-listed company. An inducement to Waste
Management to expand operations into Portland was the City's decision
to "rationalize" garbage collection routes by assigning them, beginning
Not unexpectedly, many local garbage collection companies didn't applaud the new strategic alliance with Waste Management, Inc. Still reforms went forward and fortunately we kept Cloudburst Recycling as our company--though that was the luck of the route assignment.
So where is Portland's trash in 2012?
Dozens of garbage collection companies
still work our streets. And we have a recycling programs, curbside,
that is probably envied elsewhere. We have three roller carts. Food
scrap/yard debris compost cart goes out weekly. Recyclables cart goes
weekly (or when full). Ditto the glass jars/bottles bin. Lastly, "true
trash" cart goes out only every other week. Recycling can be
addictively fun and that only adds to the motivation to keep "waste"
out of the landfills.
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
7:25:13 Le Havre by Kaurismaki
7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5.29.13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5.25.13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5.5.13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3.25.13 Moore's Law
3:13:13 Grocery Shopping
2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
10:29:12 Leaf Day
10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
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9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
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5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
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2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
1:11:12 String Beans
12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
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12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
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10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
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10:11:11 Rereading Pirsig
10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
9:26:11 The Great Stagnation, a book review
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9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review