County should take lead in caring for environment

Important articles have appeared in TGI in the past few days: Hawaii becomes first state to join with Paris agreement goals; Gary Hooser calls upon us to follow the state Constitution “for the benefit of the people;” consulting group explains makeup of Kekaha landfill; polystyrene foam containers will be banned on Maui. Basically, it is in our best interest, and is our kuleana, to protect our environment and to take care of our lifestyle.

There is a big piece missing; actively addressing it would show almost immediate positive results. We need an aggressive, efficient, effective recycling program. The current system, such as it is, does little to collect recyclables, keep them out of the landfill and take advantage of those items for future use.

Simply “educating” people that they “should” re-use and take their recyclables to a recycling center — some of which are at inconvenient locations, operate at limited hours or are closed — is not making inroads into solving the problems.

I recently returned home (lucky I live Kauai) from visiting my daughter in New York. I watched her prepare for recycling; the county government makes it easy for her.

She is supplied with recycling bins. She has established her own little “system” that makes her separating items seamless. She separates paper products into one compartment, plastics in another, glass in yet another.

Then she simply puts the bin in front of her house for pickup by the county.

Watching my daughter and son-in-law recycle many items made me aware of the huge number of recyclable products, items that I never thought about.

Perhaps many of us think of recycling plastic and glass bottles, but there is so much more. How about a bento box or a sandwich or salad that you pick up for lunch? Or you buy yogurt or cut-up fruit or milk, or so many, many other products whose containers are recyclable. How about all that packaging that your electronics and gadgets come wrapped in?

Seeing the effective system in action showed me that it is a huge plus for the environment — and it keeps tons of items out of the landfill. It is the responsibility of Kauai County to make it as easy as possible for residents to recycle

I call upon the administration and Kauai County Council to develop and implement a well-run, efficient, curb-side recycling system whose planning should begin immediately.

Of course, there is the old retort: “There is no money” or “There is not enough money.”

With an operating budget of approximately $200 million — not including capital improvements — and a population of approximately 70,000 residents, there must be money enough to investigate, gather data, and plan the system now. Then the actual costs of operation should be included, as a high-priority item, in the 2018-19 operating budget.

To our elected officials I ask: Please start now. The status quo is not acceptable. This is your opportunity to really do something concrete, to make a difference and a positive contribution to your island and your constituents.

•••

Judith Rachap is a resident of Koloa.

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