Friday, September 10, 2010

disposing of vegetables

These little cherry tomatoes came in this week's organic food box (their visual deformation is courtesy of the Photo FX app on my iPhone). They are, indeed, deep red, smooth, and shiny. I will probably eat them, although tiny tomatoes aren't my favorite thing - they always seem to me to be all tough skin. However, the thought of them getting wrinkled and soggy is compelling enough - we don't have a compost container here in New Jersey (and it hardly seems worth getting one now, when we have no idea how long we'll be in the house). At least in New Mexico one would have the satisfaction of knowing that, in six months or so, they'd be tipped back as part of some brown loam on our peculiarly infertile soil.

But here's the maddening part. We congratulated ourselves, at the end of the summer, on how very much less trash we were throwing out, courtesy of the compost barrel and other assiduous recycling. But today I get a letter from WM New Mexico ("Dear Valued Santa Fe County Customer ... we appreciate your understanding in this difficult economy"), saying that our trash collection fees are going up. Why? The local landfill is increasing its fees 7.7%, because they are getting less trash - "since the middle of 2008 there has been a 25% decline in tonnages processed at the landfill." I guess some of this reflects less consumer purchasing - fewer crappy plastic packagings to throw out. And then some trash must be put Elsewhere (where? - we have one more-or-less neighbor who certainly drives off with the family detritus in his pick-up). But if the reward of composting and recycling - apart from a warm glow of ecological virtue, and maybe more fertile soil - is an increase in trash collection costs, this is a gloomy picture, and one that's doubtless being repeated elsewhere.

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