Wednesday, May 12, 2004

As spring is in the air, that is also a time for many people to do their spring cleaning. That's usually a good thing, as it allows people to part with their accumulated crap that is just cluttering up their lives. Me, I'm a bit of a pack rat, so I can usually let things like old credit card reciepts languish for the better part of a year before I get around to throwing them away. I once found one for a CD that I bought when I was in high school.

While I wouldn't go all the way to consider myself an environmentalist (Club the baby seals! Use your air conditioning! Burn the fossil fuels! Yeah!), I do my best to do my part, whether it be rollerblading to work when I don't feel like driving (and when gas is quickly approaching $1/litre, it's not hard) or recycling. Which is why it's times like this that I hate living in Surrey.

For all of those who have yet to step foot in Surrey, BC, it has a bit of a reputation as being a hole. I know pretty much all the Surrey jokes. Here's a quick one.

Q: Why do the birds fly upside down when they pass through Surrey?
A: There's nothing worth shitting on.

A quick glance at the neighbourhoods will tell you why I feel this way. On a typical garbage day, there are usually a couple cans that are set out the night/morning before weekly pickup. Now that we are going through our annual Spring Clean-Up week(s), we have significantly more than the two-can limit put out, and it's been sitting there for weeks (it won't be picked up until today, or at least according to the City of Surrey website). Adding to the problem is the clear violation of rules that are set aside, such as no old refrigerators and freezers, building materials, concrete, and the like.

This may be attributed to the fact that someone at city hall had the genius idea for the Clean-Up Week and Re-Use Weekend. The objective of this is to put out your trash earlier, as you might have some items of use that your neighbours might want. Of course, no one bothers to take into account the fact that Surrey is only 30 minutes away from Vancouver, and gets the same amount of rain, which would leave anything that was once formerly useful significantly water damaged and useless. While there is a small segment of the population that might find use in a well-used broken television, this small segment will more than likely throw it away again once all the useful parts have been scavenged.

As a rollerblader, this isn't really fun for me, as going on the sidewalk is a bit of a hazard. There are mountains upon mountains of items that people can't be bothered to dispose of properly, which spill out onto the sidewalk, increasing my likelyhood of injury. It doesn't even have to be that way either, especially when you consider some of the stuff that gets disposed of.

A quick glance shows old appliances, obsolete computers, cardboard boxes, old matresses, and yard waste. Being that no one is willing to expend anything remotely resembling effort, these are set out to the curb to be tripped on and clutter up the landscape. All of these things can be properly composted, recycled or refurbished, so they don't end up going into landfills.

Admittedly, the people who perform these services are not making it easy for the rest of us. My family has an old Hitatchi television from 1986. While it has been in for repair twice, for the most part, the performance has been consistent for all of its 18 years in the family living room. It has since been replaced by a newer model (we're still awaiting delivery), but by the end of the month, it's going to have to be properly disposed of.

There is one electronics disposal facility in Surrey that I'm aware of. I have gone there before to drop off a full box of dead batteries for recycling. That wasn't a big deal for me, because it was smaller than a shoebox that fit in my backpack. I even used my rollerblades to get there.

Now the fun part. The television weighs at least 70-something pounds. It is rougly 3 feet tall, 3 feet deep, and 4 feet wide. It's a frickin' beast. And the fun part is that I called up the facility and they'd actually charge me for taking it off my hands (but then, they'd be able to send a truck out to pick it up).

While I do understand it takes a significant amount of labour in order to strip it down, they aren't really encouraging people to recycle if they're actually going to charge you for it. I mean, when you're done with your pop bottles and beer cans, they give you money back for it.

Until they start making it easier or cheaper, we're going to continue to see the annual tradition of Surrey turning into an even larger eye-sore than it is already.

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