LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | Forced recycling not the answer
December 7, 2012 · Updated 4:21 PM
To the editor:
I recently read about a proposed plan to impose recycling upon us island dwellers. I was not happy with the idea as presented. I feel that well-meaning political correctness may be at the bottom of this proposal, which I don’t believe is in our best interests.
We all know that island living is different from being on the mainland. That’s why we live here. I’m certain I don’t have to convince anyone that the cost of living on this island, with the possible exception of housing, is more than a little higher than we would pay on the mainland, and most of us would say it’s well worth it. We all love our island!
But there comes a point where those in charge need to realize that we can’t “follow the crowd” in the same way as mainlanders without consequences.
There have been studies showing that recycling costs more than it saves. Even so, saving our resources is a good idea. But what about the human cost? We cannot ignore that vital consideration. Eleven dollars a month may not sound like a lot, but consider the following:
Rates on utilities continue to rise. Many cannot even afford heat or electricity without help.
This surcharge would be non-negotiable. All our fees add up. Islanders who use waste collection would pay whether or not they choose to recycle.
We have new taxes for EMT services.
We have new taxes for our fire department.
We have higher taxes inequitably charged on our homes, which are worth less because of the recession but are in some cases being taxed more than their current value.
As the economy worsens, it seems we have more taxes and fees to pay.
Finally, this new charge would be non-negotiable. All our fees and taxes add up. Islanders who use waste collection would pay whether or not they choose to recycle. Perhaps they will be forced to recycle?
Most of our taxes can at least be justified on the basis of need, but as taxes and fees continue to increase, fewer and fewer persons, particularly those on fixed incomes, can afford to live on this island. Many of my friends have already left the island due to the economy. Our residents are being driven to move elsewhere -— in many cases after a lifetime of service to the community.
But finances are not the only issue involved in this proposed recycling plan. There is also the important matter of freedom. Those who cannot afford this extra fee or have no desire to participate would be forced into paying for unwanted services. Paying for fire departments, EMT services and a few other community services are necessary because of the possibility that any resident, including ourselves, may need these services. No one would argue the need to safeguard health and property.
But the world will go on without recycling on Whidbey Island. Without the forced support of those who do not desire to participate, could this recycling project even be discussed? Here’s an idea: How about charging $15 to those who choose to recycle and letting the customer decide?