Opinion: Chicopee's new trash and recycling initiative can work

4/13/2017 | G. Michael Dobbs

Category: April

I’ve been monitoring some Facebook posts about the shift in Chicopee to a smaller trashcan and a larger recycling barrel.

Some people appear to be very concerned – afraid and angry to be precise.

I’m here to tell you not to be afraid of the future. You can make recycling work. It only requires some thought and effort.

Let’s face it folks, you’ve had it easy. Being the host community of a privately owned landfill has meant some neat perks. Got furniture or a refrigerator that needed to be trashed? Take it to the dump and with your ID you could get rid of things for which people such as myself in Springfield had to pay.

The situation in Chicopee was that you could put out almost anything and it would be picked up and transported to the magical land off Burnett Road.

Trash fee? You don’t need no stinkin’ trash fee in Chicopee! Your next-door neighbors in the City of Homes have been paying one for years. My wife and I just coughed up our annual $90.

Am I complaining? No. I understand that Chicopee was in a unique position, as not many cities had the advantage of being a host community to a landfill. Springfield is like many, many other communities that closed its landfills years ago.

That’s why Springfield has had to encourage recycling of household trash and yard waste such as leaves. The city has been pretty successful.

Now, Chicopee residents must do what we all do. Clean and recycle a number of items that shouldn’t be buried or burn, but instead have a little value to certain industries.

It’s easy. Really.

My wife and I do it all the time. We rinse out or wash plastic and metal containers and collect clean paper. My wife carries home the recyclables from her work and we put them in our bin.

Recycling makes you think. Use plastic ware? Do you really have to throw them away or can you wash them and re-use them? What kind of packaging is best in terms of preserving our environment? Do you really have to buy bottled water? What about getting a filtering system – there are several – if you don’t like the taste of tap water. It’s better than the thousands of water bottles your family may use in a year.

Chicopee residents who’ve been paying attention understand that this development has been talked about for years. The City Council seemed reluctant to do anything about it under the Bissonnette Administration, but now is cooperating with Mayor Richard Kos. Perhaps they understand they have no choice.

On the horizon is the mandatory composting of organic food waste. Your banana peels, potato skins or watermelon rinds won’t be going into your trash but will have to be collected for composting.

To quote Dr, Smith for “Lost in Space:” “Oh the agony, the agony!”

It’s not that bad.

I’m going to invest in a simple devise that will allow my organic trash to decompose into compost and put it on our vegetable garden. I saw one for $40 at A.W. Brown’s in East Longmeadow – to plug an advertiser.

Install it in your yard and follow the instructions. Then reap the benefits of creating free organic material that will fertilize your garden.

Yes, it’s an uncertain new world. You no longer can simply think that hulking barrel of trash is going to evaporate into vapor and no longer be a problem. You have to manage trash just as you manage other aspects of your life.

Trust me. If I can do it, you can do it.

What is the state waiting for?

I was the only reporter at a meeting at the Gerena School recently at which members of the Saron administration met with neighborhood residents and members of the City Council.

The subject was the on-going water leaks through the roof the tunnel that is under the German Gerena Community School.

The reason the tunnel exists is to provide an access from one part of the city’s North End to the other aide that was cut off by I-91.

In theory it’s a great idea, but in practice the water coming through the roof of the tunnel has greatly alarmed residents for years.

It’s time for the legislative delegation to put some pressure of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to do what needs to be done: repair the roof membrane and stop the leaks.

Residents are rightly concerned about the long-term impact is on the ceiling of the tunnel that is used by school children every day as well as others.

Do you think such a situation would be tolerated in Boston? Ah, no.

These opinions are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the publishers or advertisers of Reminder Publications. I’d love to hear from my Chicopee readers if they have a reaction to this column. Email me at news@thereminder.com.

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