Don’t skimp on sanitation, waste

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 11, 2018

Once a week collection is a very bad idea.  Here’s why.

Reason 1: Penny-wise and Dollar-foolish

I personally witnessed this calamity during my 22-year residence in the UK. Councils reduced bi-weekly collection of rubbish first to once weekly and then to bi-monthly. What a total unmitigated disaster!

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In the UK, the bi-monthly garbage collection caused a health epidemic in more than one community due to an exploding rat population. Professional rat catchers had to be brought in — and not at the councils’ expense, but at the residents’ (like me) who suffered consequences of this ill-conceived cost-saving measure. And these were UK rats, not your run-of-the-mill Natchez river rat where the professional rat catchers better be packing heat when they come calling.

Sure, councils saved money on the contracts by reducing services, but garbage piled up and it created a whole host of costly sanitation and health problems that required clean-ups, doctor and hospital visits, and increased use of pesticides and poisons—many of which affected the human population and indiscriminately killed pets and wildlife.

Reason 2: Summer Cocktails

Imagine enjoying a summer cocktail in Natchez with the sights and smells of rotting meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, cast-off liquids, old milk and dairy, drinks, grease, dirty paper towels, disposable diapers and all kinds of other stuff fermenting in 100-degree heat in bins that are stuffed to the brim and over-flowing for a week. It creates a breeding-ground feast for flies, maggots, rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, raccoons, vermin, creepy crawlers, bacteria and viruses — like, leptospirosis, hantavirus, plague, rabies, salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, toxoplasma, and toxacara.

No doubt the tourists will appreciate this unique aspect of Natchez culture… the sweet smell of magnolias in bloom with l’air de pew wafting in the background.

Reason 3: Dear, did you bring out the garbage before we left?

AND, how many of us (hand on heart) have forgotten to bring the rubbish bin to the curb the night before collection? In the UK, if you missed the collection because you were for example called out of town, too bad. Your rubbish would pile up for a month. And in the summer time it was a real horror show.

Imagine once weekly collection and you miss it. You (or your neighbor) could conceivably go two weeks with rubbish piling up before the next pick-up. This is particularly troublesome during times of increased activity in the household — like during the holidays, parties, extended family visits and the like.

Reason 4: Fly-tipping — it’s not what you think

Fly-tipping is not about tipping a fly for good service or giving it a tip on where to find a good bin. In the UK, the local garbage dump is called the “tip.” Fly-tipping means dumping rubbish “on the fly” from a moving vehicle. With a reduction in waste collection, the UK also saw a huge increase in fly-tipping, i.e. roadside dumping of garbage — especially in scenic and rural places because they are secluded. This roadside dumping was nearly always composed of household waste — as evidenced by careless residents who left correspondence and other identifying effects behind in the mix.

Preserving the natural beauty of Natchez and our surrounds is not only our duty but it makes good economic sense for a city and county that relies so heavily upon the tourist industry.

Reason 5: Robin’ the hood

Reducing waste and sanitation services discriminates against densely populated neighborhoods with small houses, large households, vulnerable households and the poor. These households will suffer the effects of reduced sanitation services more than households in private subdivisions and neighborhoods with large lots and spacious houses (see reasons 2,3, and 4 above).

Reducing waste sanitation services for these populations and neighborhoods while not reducing the taxes paid is the most egregious form of “regressive” taxation imaginable. It robs neighborhoods who cannot afford to pay the costs of private collection, increased rodent and vermin control, health and sanitation costs that follow.

Reason 6: A rising tax sinks all boats

When my wife, family and I chose to move to Natchez and become residents, we marveled at the bi-weekly collection. We felt we were getting good value for waste and sanitation services for the taxes we paid.

This compared favorably to what we experienced in the UK where every year we saw reduced services in sanitation and no reduction in the amount of council taxes we paid. We witnessed tax increases associated with sanitation services reduction and an introduction of fines for producing too much rubbish and not recycling.

Eventually, the political class paid the price when voters gave them the boot. The Conservative government swept into power and UK voters decided to quit the European Union. I suppose they learned the hard way that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “Soap (sanitation) and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.”
Randolph J. Trappey, Ph.D., is a Natchez resident.