September 30, 2008

The Tipping Point: Part Nine

Let's tip garbage. I don't mean tipping the cans over. I mean, is there a way to dramatically lower the amount of garbage that people throw away? Right now, in most communities, there is no real limit on trash. You can fill up the dumpster in your apartment complex to the brim. Or bring as many bins down to the end of your driveway as you want. And it gets taken away by men and trucks paid for by taxpayer dollars. But, what if you had to pay for precisely what you threw away? And because landfill use is probably best valued in terms of volume, let's say you'd pay "per cubic foot" or something like that. You'd think about what you're discarding, recycling, buying and keeping a lot more carefully, wouldn't you? Of course, this would likely lead to other problems. People storing mounds of garbage in their backyard, or dumping garbage in inappropriate places to avoid the fees. Frankly, this is probably why most communities handle garbage the way they do. But, could there be another way? One that would cause us to think about what we're actually throwing away?