I’m a stickler for voting in every election, because I think it’s important, even though these days it can feel more like choosing the least of evils, or negative voting, where you vote for one party not because you actively like them but because you’re so terrified of somebody else. We have a municipal election coming up on Monday here in Ottawa, and even though my riding is borderline acclaimed (incumbent Alan Hubley running against two other guys who a) don’t even live in my ward, and b) have no political experience whatsoever, and c) both registered on the very last possible day purely because they didn’t want there to be an acclaimed situation, which is honourable, but does not necessarily make you a valid alternative); and in the mayoral race, who is going to vote against The Beloved Jim Watson, anyway.
But! While doing my basic due diligence, which involves reading the interviews with each candidate in the paper and visiting their websites, I learned something surprising: there is an alliance of candidates in this election whose specific platform is to abolish the green bin composting system.
It’s not a small group, either. Something like 13 candidates across the city are running on this platform, which would also bring back weekly garbage pickup. Here’s a good article outlining their platform and naming all the members – none of whom are incumbents.
I’m personally strongly in favour of a green bin program. Yes, it gets messy and gross sometimes. Yes, I often find myself on summer evenings at the end of the driveway with a bottle of bleach, trying to kill maggots. Yes, we keep a smelly bin thing in our garage to keep it away from raccoons and squirrels, and that means we can’t always actually park in our garage.
But when I think about all that waste going to landfill…ugh. Remember a few years ago when the city decided it was no longer in their financial interest to pick up some plastics? And how putting margarine and yogurt containers into the garbage just felt wrong? So wrong, that there was a massive backlash and they had to start picking it up again?
For me, getting rid of the green bin now would feel the same way. I couldn’t imagine putting a banana peel or apple core into the garbage, now. I like that our garbage output is less than a bag a week. I like it that the city is looking for non-landfill options for organic waste, and other stuff too. The idea that we take all our waste and just throw it in a big hole and cover it up is getting stranger and stranger to me all the time.
The folks running on this platform are trying to make it an economic issue, and there seems to be no doubt that the city loses money every year on the program – both because they have to pay a base fee to have the waste collected, and because low participation in the program means they pay a penalty for not hitting their waste goals. But cancelling the program would also be expensive, and I’m really not sure what the landfill strategy would be after that. With all the compost waste now going back into the landfill stream, what would the plan be? The Carp landfill has already had its close date extended several times, and there just isn’t another location right now that can take our garbage. I can’t imagine the expense of opening a new landfill somewhere, or even paying fees to truck our waste to an existing landfill somewhere else, or the environmental issues involved in extending the life of the Carp dump yet again (not to mention the quality of life issues for those who live near it, who have been promised that “it’s closing soon!” time and time again).
What do you think? Are you a green bin fan or would you love to see it abolished? Will you be voting for any of the candidates running on this platform – or will you be negative voting against them? I’m really curious to hear what the general public thinks about this (or at least, the very small sampling of us who read this blog) – even if you’re not from Ottawa, let me know what you think about compost programs in general.