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A Small Town View
Reprinted with permission from The Progressive Populist, Storm Lake, Iowa, November 1996, Volume 2, Number 11.

Recycling Works
by Jim Hightower

The New York Times, which immodestly claims on its masthead that it publishes "All the news that's fit to print," recently printed a curious diatribe called: "Recycling Is Garbage."

Get it? Recycling - Garbage? Cute title. Well, staff writer John Tierney dumped on recycling big time, flatly asserting that it doesn't pay, doesn't work and is a burden for families to mess with.

Gosh, if the folks of Crockett, Texas had only known, they might not have launched their town's recycling program. Of course, the New York Times is not a really big seller in Crockett -- a town of 8,300 in the Piney Woods of East Texas -- so these blissfully ignorant souls probably would've just plunged ahead anyway.

As it was, the folks of Crockett were simply fed-up with being held-up by the constant rate hikes imposed on them by the disposal company that dumped their trash in the landfill. So in 1992, Crockett passed a recycling ordinance, and the town began providing curbside pickup of household paper, plastics, cans and bottles, as well as collecting used motor oil, old tires and recyclables from businesses and schools.

Guess what? It works! Eight-five percent of the people participate, and cost of running the recycling program is less than what it had cost to shove everything in the landfill. Last year, for the first time, the town recycled more waste than it put in the landfill, including 252 tons of cardboard, 6 tons of aluminum, 160 tons of newspaper, 94 tons of glass, 43 tons of plastic, 3900 gallons of used motor oil and 72 tons of steel cans.

Mr. Tierney needs to spend less time with the think tanks funded by the landfill industry, and more time with people in places like Crockett, Texas; then he'd have something fit to print.

Jim Hightower is based in Austin, Texas.

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