Go ahead, raise your hands. How many of you would move to downtown Knoxville if you were certain you could recycle? OK, so maybe it isn’t quite a poll worthy question, but it seemed like a logical follow-up to my recent story on garbage. I’ll admit it didn’t occur to me until after I moved, but it did occur: “How can I recycle?”
There has been some recent effort in the city to provide simple street pickup for recycling. It may have hit West Hills, but it hasn’t hit the downtown streets. I do believe that many people will never recycle until they are told they must. Whatever kind of “ist” that makes me, so be it. Sometimes people have to be saved from themselves – or the rest of us have to be saved from them.
So, given that I’m a little extreme in this regard, I had to find out the story. It turns out there is a recycle center downtown on a forlorn desert of an area set aside for parking directly behind Mast General Store (and across State Street). It sits down the hill from most of downtown, but isn’t that far from the Old City. It wasn’t curbside, but I knew it was my only option. I just couldn’t see myself getting in my car and driving somewhere to recycle. It seemed too ironic, which is odd, because I’ve done it when I’ve lived outside the city.
So, last November I started my hikes to the recycle center. It’s about a half mile from my house and down a pretty steep hill which, though that means I have to hike back up, at least I drop the load at the bottom of the hill. It isn’t terrifically pleasant during stretches like the one last winter where we didn’t get above freezing all day, and it isn’t a delight when the temperature hovers in the 90’s. Once I tried to combine walking the dog and the trip with the recycling bag. Once was enough of that. I ran into a neighbor who was kind enough to never mention how bizarre I looked that day.
The bins are huge and fill up regularly, so I know there are many recyclers downtown. It appears a number of the businesses recycle. I also see recyclable materials in all the garbage cans, though, and I’m waiting for the city to have the vision to just tell us to do the right thing. It will probably will be a long wait in Knoxville, but I’m a patient man.