Friday, April 8, 2011

Recycling redux

A neighbor questioned my post about the city's criminalization of informal collection of curbside recycling, saying that the program is harmed when it has to buy what's informally collected instead of getting it "for free." Would the overall cost of collecting recycling be less if it was left to the informal sector entirely? I realize that's a step that for a variety of reasons would be really hard for a formal, city-connected organization to take. It would take an act of social imagination, in other words. What I object to is the criminalization of the informal sector implied by the city's "ownership" of recycling when it's placed on the street. My neighbor said that this is not enforced, but it could be, which strikes me as an ethical failure. The photo above is a reminder that informality is the way of the (perpetually unbalanced) world. I also heard a relevant quote: "The typically modern practice is the effort to exterminate ambivalence." (Jeremy Till, citing or quoting Zygmunt Bauman).