Well, aren’t we Oregonians just a bunch of prissy, lazy schmucks?
By and large, there’s no group of folks I adore more than my PDX peeps, especially my fellow S.N.O.B.s. That’s the Society of Native Oregonian Born, for those less fortunately reared readers.
But in this case, I have to point out a significant failure within this group of awesome humans: we failed at recycling.
I’ll wait for you to get up off the floor, scratch your head and make sure you read that right.
Here’s the deal, we are a feral group when it comes to recycling. Carrying recyclables out of our way while we’re on the go to find an appropriate receptacle to dispose of them in rather than conveniently tossing them in the nearest trash. Judging those who don’t with a silent glare – we are still a uniquely passive-aggressive group. Aggressively correcting neighbors who fail to use their curb side recycling and yard waste receptacles correctly – hey, we aren’t always passive. And the examples roll on and on.
Here’s kinda where it all started: The Oregon Bottle Bill. Back in the 70s, Oregon became the first state – Trailblazers, we are – to pass legislation taxing soda and alcohol cans and bottles. You pay $.05 at the point of sale, enjoy your beverages, return the empty to a redemption center for your $.05.
A nickle a can or bottle was a lot back in the 70s, when minimum wage was in the low $2 range. You better believe we redeemed those cans and made that crying Indian proud of our efforts to control our impact on the environment while also controlling the impact of this avoidable tax on our wallets.
But the state still cleaned up.
Flash forward 40 years, though.
Minimum wage is increased around five-fold. People have largely remained inside the urban growth ring around Portland’s metro area, limiting urban sprawl but demanding we build upward to accommodate our growth as a world class city – best on the west coast in my neither humble nor unbiased opinion.
And recycling attitudes have changed with those variables as well. We no longer consider that nickel a vessel tax a hardship; tossing our deposit based recyclables into our appropriately colored curbside tubs for collection. Redemption is employed more often than not now by only the neediest and desperate of the homeless. Trust me, I work in a grocery store. I see it.
Oh, and the occasional teenaged boy looking to supplement his allowance with some somewhat hard earned of his own…I’m also an uncle.
I’m one of those “living up” without a so called curb to recycle upon and using my feet as my major mode of transportation, I am basically part of the problem. My recycling goes into a big tub in the recycling room and pretty much bypasses the homeless recyclers in my area. Plus, they’re their own part of the problem: living the sweet park life in the Pearl District, they seem to consider themselves above this nickel based existence.
Big deal, right?
We are still recycling!
That musty old bottle bill that no one thinks of anymore has a Sloth Claus. If redemption falls below 60% for two consecutive years, that triggers an automatic increase in the tax.
So, beginning in April of 2017, Oregon will have a $.10 deposit tax on its bottles and cans.
We’ll see where that goes. Maybe that will put the aggressive back in our currently passive redemption behaviors.