Sutherland is with the U.S. Green Building Council, Central Plains Chapter

To the editor:

Dear city of Independence,
I am a native of Independence. I graduated from elementary school, junior high and high school – all within the Independence School District. Since graduation I have lived in various other states and cities but was pleased to move back to my hometown two years ago.

I relocated to Independence from Columbia, Mo. Imagine my surprise, after being spoiled by the fabulous program of Columbia, to find that my hometown did not have a curbside recycling program.

According to the 2000 census, Independence is the fourth largest city in Missouri. This added to my bewilderment as to why it was not large enough to handle a curbside recycling program since Columbia’s was so extensive. In fact, in Columbia all recyclable materials were placed into one bin by the homeowner, placed on the curb next to their trash and were later sorted through by the city’s trash collection agency for complete accuracy. Our neighbor, Kansas City (first largest city in Missouri), also has curbside recycling.

Yet the recycling process is Independence is left to each person to pay for privatized trash collection.
Let’s be honest. When it comes down to it, convenience is a pivotal component in any process. Dedicated environmentally conscious people will take the necessary steps to save, sort, and then deliver their recyclables to the recycling centers. But the nominal recycler will generally not take those extra steps.

Granted, some people will never develop the discipline of sorting through their trash for plastics, paper, newspaper, etc. But many want to. They want to become more aware about their household waste. This will also mean that they must be available during the window of time when the recycling centers are open. Additionally, they must have the space for various separation containers (eliminating small spaces such as apartments or small homes).

If we give Independence residents one more tool – that of convenience – via curbside recycling, we are creating a city that can be proud of their town’s stance on the environment. It is with a great sense of pride that Columbia speaks of their curbside recycling. We can build a city based on the future enjoyment for generations to come and not on the consumption of immediacy.

I am interested to know the reasons why Independence does not offer curbside recycling or what plans are in place to move in that direction. Other neighboring cities have the basics of curbside recycling and therefore a vision for their city’s places to work, live and play.

We seem to be primarily concerned with cost effectiveness for the city and the loss of privatized contracts. I would be interested to know the components of a possible curbside recycling program of which I may not be aware.