There was ample evidence and motivation for the city of Boise to consider and eventually implement a composting program for the good of the community and the environment.
Nearly half of the stuff sent by single-family households to the Ada County Landfill is compostable material, and there is a cost of dealing with it — even a cost for not dealing with it. No one wants the landfill full of material better handled elsewhere.
But it must be said the city has fumbled the informational and “community buy-in” campaigns, and made matters worse with its pay-now-compost-later execution of getting the program rolling:
▪ Those who already have adopted the composting habit remain upset for being charged to do something that they already do.
▪ Those who have no intention of composting are wondering where they are going to put a third bin in already-crowded garages or alleys — monuments-on-wheels to the government knowing what’s best for you. These folks are wondering: Where was the public vote or consensus that granted permission to move forward?
▪ And those who are being charged that extra $3.40 (which began June 1) are hot as fireplace ashes because some are being billed now and might not get their compost carts until the middle of next month or later. The city has been working on this program for well over a year and officials had ample time to anticipate distribution problems, or at least delay billing.
▪ Yes, when we actually have compost we’ll be able to obtain and use it on lawns or gardens — though we might have to wonder if potential contaminants such as lawn and garden insecticides and herbicides will have decomposed.
In this case, we don’t blame the passionate reactions of citizens to something that could have been better thought out and executed. Composting makes perfect sense for the environment and for financial reasons. But at this point, after investing in 70,000 bins, there is not a whole lot the city or its citizens can do — except learn from it.
Believe it or not, Mayor Bieter and City Council members, we want to be heard before we get herded toward the next initiative. Take some time to listen and truly consider the broader public sentiment. Though there is plenty of evidence of consulting with compost experts — the outcry from both pro-compost and anti-compost constituents should inform the council that their public relations and community education work was unfinished before they implemented the program.
Anything the city can do to inject some flexibility or incentives into the system at this point will be a step in the right direction.
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