By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Trash ain't nothin' but cash: Virtue, they say, is its own reward. That fact probably helps explain why Buzz isn't on anyone's short list for sainthood. We prefer more tangible rewards for our rare good works, like cash money.
Take recycling, for example. Although our neighbor allows us to use his blue recycling bin, it's not very often that we bother to sort our trash. (In our defense, using his bin requires us to walk an extra 10 feet across an alley, and it's hot outside. Since Buzz is usually shirtless when we take out the trash, by not recycling we spare our neighborhood an extended glimpse of our man boobies and hairy gut, which probably does more to improve the local environment than saving a few pounds of newsprint.)
Luckily for our neighbors, we don't live in Carrollton, which beginning in October will be taking part in a program that essentially pays households for recyclables. Allied Waste Services, the company contracted to haul the suburb's trash, is teaming with RecycleBank, a program that rewards the environmentally virtuous by giving them points, redeemable for gift cards that can be used at local and national retailers.
The Carrollton version of the program is a community effort, at least for now, a spokesman says. Individual households sign up for it. Their recyclables are all tossed together and weighed, and the total is assigned RecycleBank points, which can be redeemed for the retail coupons. The points are divvied up evenly among the participating households. In other cities with the program, each household's trash is weighed separately, and the RecyleBank points are awarded individually. The latter style may come to North Texas eventually, once the technology for individual weighing is in place. In the meantime, just think of Carrollton as a sort of green, socialist collective.
Dan Jameson, Allied Waste's vice president for government and municipal services, says the rewards program has increased the amount of recyclable collections in cities where it operates nationally an average of 30 to 50 percent, with households earning on average between $200 and $300 in rewards annually. His company hopes to expand the program to the 60 communities in North Texas where Allied collects trash. Unfortunately, that doesn't include Dallas, at least not yet. "Obviously, a city that big would always be a target," Jameson says.
Oh, well, we can't all live in a pinko paradise like Carrollton, but take comfort, Dallas. At least for now you won't be treated to the sight of a paunchy wookie—unless Buzz decides to go swimming.