Tuesday, August 17, 2010

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Green

Tell 'Em How You Feel, M!

Big City Recycling, By Contributing Editor, M.

As an alleged "World City", Chicago is home to, and visited by millions of people from the globe. And as the city with the "Green Mayor", Chicago has over three million square feet of green rooftop space (including city hall). It not only looks nice, absorbs water and heat, but also has an economic benefit, as it adds about 50 years to the life of a roof. This is a good thing, as are some of the plans the Department of Environment have to improve the city's sustainability. However, as the article below points out, there is a huge elephant in the room when it comes to recycling, and it looks like city administration is either unconcerned, afraid of the property managers and waste haulers, or just doesn't see the need to follow through with their plans.

Case in point: The Burke-Hanson ordinance, which requires high density and commercial buildings to recycle, lest they are issued warnings, fines of $100 a day, and revocation of business licenses. The article points out that fact that these buildings are responsible for most of the waste produced in the city, yet city officials "don't want to alienate property owners and business managers". This is absolutely absurd! The point of having fines and warnings is to either discourage a negative behavior or encourage a positive one. I doubt these officials feel the same about parking tickets, moving violations, or sticker fines. To think that many other cities across the country and world can effectively enforce recycling policies (including NYC) and this Wold City of Chicago cannot is ludicrous.

Sorry to rant, but it is a bit maddening to see the lack of will and urgency to tackle this issue. I am not sure of the best way to solve this problem, but one way to start is to contact your alderman (not harass) and the Dept. of Environment and ask them how you can get involved in getting Chicago to recycle, and if Burke-Hansen is enforced in your ward (if you are indeed a city dweller). Apparently, we, the people have to make it clear that our interests are more important than the bottom lines of the waste haulers (they actually charge more for recycling in Chicago, even though it isn't an extra cost to them, and other cities have it as a compulsory service) and property owners. If it becomes the law to recycle and they get hit with that $100 everyday, believe me, you will see a lot more true green activity in the City of Chicago.

How does your city measure up?

To learn more, check out: Chicago Reader

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