Penticton recycling policy shows hypocrisy

Letter writer sees no harm in recycling material from municipal dump.

If Aboriginals from the few yet-to-be-tainted wilderness areas were to wander into our “civilized” human world and take a short time to sociologically study our “modern” history, they might be shocked to discover our persistent pattern of hypocrisy of attitudes and behaviour.

For 50 years, and some would argue that it began long earlier than that, there has been a social and political concern regarding recycling, reuse, reclaiming and efficiently using the basic resources we have.

There have been great efforts of involvement, lobbying, organizing, protesting, policy making, legalizing and promoting this concept of responsible stewardship. There have even been books and articles published concerning individuals who retrieved enough discarded building materials from a municipal dump to build a house of average size within the regulations of a formal government approved building code.

Yet, it would seem that two statements of conviction now suggest that a portion of the Penticton inhabitants have regressed to stone age immaturity. First, it suddenly seems acceptable to convict any person who has anything in their possession which they may have not paid for.

There has been nothing in the details I have read that stated that the individual being targeted for such misdeeds of scavenging was actually seen to have removed the items and placed them into his truck, either immediately before they were about to buried, or earlier. Does this mean that if I am in a hardware store parking lot and someone sees that I have building materials in my trunk that I have stolen them? I guess the thought that I might have purchased them elsewhere, perhaps not unloaded them yet from another day, or was gifted them by a friend or associate who had more than they needed is just too extreme, to consider.

Secondly, if a Municipal dump/landfill is receiving reusable items of any description and only has a policy of burying them, it is an affirmation that such a municipality has either not set policies and provided recycling alternatives for these items, or, that such provision or services and enforcement, is incompetent and negligent through the open deception that the community is supposed to have something, which it clearly does not. As long as signs are posted clearly stating that it is the responsibility of the retriever to use, remake and discard any such items as may be removed in a safe, orderly, and non-objectionable manner to other community members, why should such an ecologically friendly activity be considered less than honourary?

If the items are on the field in front of a bulldozer blade which is intended to bury it, how different is that from store goods which have been deemed unusable by the store owners and discarded outside the store into a dumpster. It could be argued, legally, that once in the dumpster, or before the bulldozer blade, ownership of the items has been released to the community, generally, and to anyone willing to take responsibility for such ownership, use, modification-creation-art, sale, or other responsible disposition.

A clearer and more widely known policy concerning these discarded items and the ways in which such will be encouraged to be recycled, both by individual efforts as well as government and privately owned services, would lessen the confusion arising from the assumption, both incorrectly and in conflict, of who is responsible for what and to what extent  — as well as who has ownership of whatever, until when, how and where.

John R. Sennett


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