To the Editor,

The following is an address to Athens City Council, albeit a circuitous route, via response to Edward Newman’s Letter to the Editor, Athens News, May 14, 2020.

In regards to the pending City of Athens waste contract:

Master Newman,

There are at least two flaws in any argument for adopting this [solid waste] contract [as presently drafted].

Adding to the waste stream in order to get to zero waste not only needlessly consumes resources, but prolongs the journey, presuming that zero waste is attainable in the first place, much less in an economic system that doesn’t proactively create or support markets for wastes.

Let “us” simplify this. Take a one-size-fits-all policy, or one nearly so. Apply it to pants. Overnight you have everyone wearing pants, despite a fair percentage better served by skirts. You have thin people with their pants falling off. You have portly people that can’t fit into their pants. You have baggy pants requiring suspenders and only a small percentage of the population with their pants fitted properly.

Also discounted are the added materials, labor and energy needed to manufacture suspenders and over-sized belts for all those souls who never before needed them prior to issuance of the “City’s” (yes, the “City’s”) new brand of pants.

If you’re a fast food drive thru like Burger King or McDonalds, where dollars per units of production [are] your soul driver, one-size-fits all or limited SKUs is paramount. And that approach in some or even large part makes a degree of sense relative to a waste contract.

But that approach also homogenizes the entirety of Athens. Those who are already proactive and who compost pay for those that don’t – a tax on services neither used or needed.

In this contract there is apparently no definitive waiver, directive or apportionment for any vendor to detour, allowing for creative alternatives leading to the reduction of collection stops, escalation of on-site composting, mulching on site, reduced fuel consumption, lessened need to purchase compost, mulch and fertilizer through commercial outlets, reduced aggregate and personal water consumption, reduced personal and aggregate carbon footprint, or reduced risk to citizens.

All that opportunity lost due to a less than adequately considered and penned waste contract by City employees and leaders, who are either over-taxed, under-informed or under-concerned.

In its present state, this contract is based upon drive-thru math. It’s a boilerplate and gill-net proposal lacking by perhaps half all the inventiveness deserving of a self-professed progressive government and community, where needless by-catch is once again relegated to the level of “acceptable loss” or economic necessity, when it’s not and needn’t be.

If adopted as written, the City’s presumably progressive leaders will once again do a disservice to all minds and abilities – self-confessed progressives or not – of the Athens community, as it doesn’t meet the City’s potential by half.

Todd Swearingen

Guysville, Ohio

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