On the Right Lane: Let's talk trash


“No matter how you look at it, scooping garbage into an oven and setting it afire is an equally primitive alternative to digging a hole in the ground and burying it. The former contaminates air; the latter, groundwater.”
Sandra Steingraber, biologist, author and cancer survivor

The Portland Press Herald recently had an article about problems associated with Ecomaine’s recycling program of which the town of Windham is a part. The biggest problem with that program is trash – trash that many people mix with materials that are recyclable.

I really don’t know about anyone else, but for me it is still a learning process in progress as to what is or what isn’t recyclable, especially with the multitude of materials we all face when purchasing different items. Some plastics look like they should be recycled and yet belong in the trash. Some paper products look the same as others and yet cannot be recycled.

So back to the article about Ecomaine’s recycling program, which is being hindered because in far too many places people get rid of their trash by including it in materials that they recycle. Sadly, that is true in Windham as well. All one has to do to prove it is go down to Windham Public Works and look in the silver bullet recycling bins. Some days it is a total mess. If the town manager and town councilors want to pull those bins in order to stop trash being commingled with proper recycling materials, so be it.

The reason I feel that way is simple. The purpose of those bins is to give citizens a place of convenience to dispose of their recyclables. It is not a place to get rid of trash, and I am sad to state that I have seen televisions, tires, garbage, broken windows (including frames) and furniture, along with something that smelled like human or animal waste products, in those bins. Sometimes the amount of flies, yellow jackets and another insects attracted by the odors just forces me to leave. There was a problem when those bins were located by the Social Services building on Route 202, and it’s obvious the problem is now worse because people realize that they still aren’t supervised. Sad thing is that they shouldn’t have to be.

So the problem has now morphed into another problem. If it continues then Ecomaine will charge us more to get rid of our recyclable materials, which is the first thing I have ever agreed with that entity about. If the trash-recycling mixing  continues, we might very well end up with one or two alternatives, burn it or bury it and that’s truly a shame. Residents have the option of curbside pickup just like they do with their trash. I believe I am correct that the recycle bins are not for commercial use, although I have seen that happen infrequently. However, the one fear I have is that if the silver bullet bins disappear it doesn’t mean the trash will, too. More than likely it will end up in the woods in and around Windham.

Ecomaine is now thinking about also recycling food waste. That might sound great, but I bet the smell won’t be. The thought of it actually repels me. Think about this, if we can’t keep discarded recyclables clean do you really expect that the bags or containers containing food waste will be? I have the strangest thought that Peter is going to rob Paul in order to keep that program running. That means us! When it comes to Ecomaine or any other semi-government entity my belief is that it shouldn’t compete with private enterprise. When and if it does it needs to be immediately disbanded permanently. I guess time will tell.

Lane Hiltunen is waiting for the Russian collusion confusion solution.