Recycling: creative ideas, not excusesIt didn't surprise...

the Forum

November 21, 1991

Recycling: creative ideas, not excuses

It didn't surprise me that you published the article "Recycling myths" on Nov. 15 - no matter how inaccurate or misleading it was. Right-wing think tanks have been sending you such pseudoscience for years - Ronald Reagan has them to thank for his pronouncing ketchup a vegetable, trees bad for the environment and nuclear missiles recallable.

What dismayed me was that you used it to justify your editorial position supporting Baltimore County's inaction on recycling. Compounding the problem, you claim that the county spent $3 million on recycling this year, when in reality it was less than $300,000. Three million dollars is slated for next year, but no one I know believes the county has any intention of spending that much.

Instead of making it a choice between paying for recycling or firefighters, why don't you help think of solutions? One that involves no net increase in collection costs is to substitute second-day trash pick-up with pick-up of recyclables. Another is to lower the property tax and charge a small fee per can of trash put out. Since pick-up of recyclables would be free, people would have an economic incentive to separate the recyclables from their trash.

These are times that call for creative thinking, not excuses for inaction.

Dan Jerrems

The writer is chair of the Baltimore Recycling Coalition.

The analysis of any recycling question should always begin with consideration of the relative costs in energy to perform any given task. For instance, is it less energy-intensive to recycle newspapers, or to grow trees and process them through to ready-for-use newsprint? This question must be answered before we decide whether to plant trees. It's not a question that can be answered by commercial harvesters; they can only respond to the market demand. The fundamental question may be a bit beyond the marketplace, since someone outside of the market will have to do the objective analysis.

If this sort of analysis is done in regard to any given recycling question, the "myth" should, by definition, disappear. Ms. Scarlett is likely correct in that we let myth, rather than reason, govern public policy.

It takes a system engineering analysis to put the factors in proper order, including, of course, consideration of possible environmental degradation. Unfortunately, those who make public policy may not keep that in mind in the midst of any given hysteria.

James V. McCoy

Phoenix

Your story of Nov. 14 reports correctly that curbside pick-up of some recyclables will increase to 55,000 homes in Baltimore County this fiscal yar, and also reports the plan to spend $3 million in the next budget for further curbside expansion. These facts appear under a headline that states, "Curbside recycling to get no money." That's a contradiction.

John J. Ciekot

White Hall

I live in a condominium complex, and I have observed that the recycling of trash is nil. There are Dumpsters where we place paper, glass and metal all in one heap.

It would seem to me that the companies that supply these containers could set up a system where the trash is separated and recycled accordingly.

There are enough condominium units in Baltimore County that it would make a difference in the amount of trash that is buried, burned or whatever.

Edward C. Mattson

Towson

Education expose

Hurrah for Morris Freedman and his article, "Why I'm not picketing to 'save' College Park" (Other Voices, Nov. 13). It is refreshing to read an "expose" of this education machine. I, for one, am tired of hearing of higher costs in education. Someone should be made fiscally responsible for this travesty.

College students should get the facts before they do any more marching! We need more whistle-blowers who are honest enough to stand up and say, "Enough!"

Joan McGhee

Severna Park

For the view of College Park English faculty, see below.

1/2

City priorities

I applaud the effort of Mayor Schmoke as he tackles the formidable task of reducing the size of the Baltimore city work force. The Fire Department is overstaffed compared to other U.S. cities.

The firefighters stress that they save lives. But there is more than one way to save a life - and the best way is to apply resources to the development of the intellectual capabilities of each person. Cutting where there is fat is far more prudent than depriving our children of educational opportunities.

A firehouse in every neighborhood is unreasonable. A good school offering a quality education for every child is far more valuable.

Eloise F. Brown

Baltimore

A bad name

Being the son of a disabled American war veteran, I can vouch for the many hardships our soldiers endured. I myself served in combat in 1942 and 1943 as a tail gunner. So I could not believe it when I read that Governor Schaefer had decided to proudly name the new ballpark Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

How he could allow the name Memorial Stadium to be eliminated is beyond my comprehension. I suppose that since the state is awash in red ink and the pork barrel is empty, Schaefer had trouble concentrating on the task at hand.

Have all the veterans served in vain? Maybe not. As usual, many of them will be out in the cold selling Christmas trees at Memorial Stadium.

Walter Salmon Jr.

Lutherville

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