A meditation on recycling…

I liked Meditation Circle member Craig Wilger’s letter to the editor (below) in the Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 “Reader’s Forum” of the Charleston Gazette. Isn’t the way we systematically plunder and gobble up the planet’s resources and places a spiritual malaise? (Or in a memorable line about voracious humanity from Bruce Cockburn’s “If a Tree Falls”: Busy monster eats dark holes in the spirit world…” Recycling may take only a sliver of the trash back from the torrent we vomit out daily because of the way we like to live. But along the way we role model a more sustainable and truer way of living. The letter below Craig’s makes an equally salient point — why must recycling pay for itself when it’s OK to toss out as much trash as you wish, while everyone pays the same  fee for pickup? (P.S. Don’t you like the way newspaper letters still begin with ye olde “Editor:” salutation? Can you imagine blog comments beginning that way? Many are more likely to start “Dolt!”)


I applaud South Charleston’s Frank Mullens and city council for standing strong with recycling. The very act of recycling is symbolic of a willingness to turn away from a way of living that considers only the immediate and insatiable need to consume. Rather it looks toward a future for our children based on a respect for ourselves and for the land’s limited resources.

I applaud Norm Steensta and others from the Slack Street Recycling Center who continue to work a business not now making money because of market influences, but which serves a very real need.  When we look at the actions of these folks who voluntarily took pay cuts rather than folding shop or running to the government for a bailout, we see a lesson that some of the greedy Wall Street bankers and financial institutions should emulate.

When failed companies receive huge bailouts from our taxpayer money while top company officials still get millions of dollars in yearly bonuses, something is very sour and it smells like trash.

Many of them should be recycled for better leaders for whom greed isn’t a prime motivation.

Recycling needs our continued and increased support as a symbol of our moral character and our willingness to tackle even more pressing local and global economic and environmental issues.

Craig Wilger

Why must recycling pay for itself?


When the truck picks up the green bin that you put out for the city’s curbside recycling program, the driver will head to the landfill, not the recycling center.

Why?  Because the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority can no longer afford to process your recyclables.

The Authority needs to make money from your recyclables and a sharp decline in market price has made it cost prohibitive to continue to accept them. So instead, you will pay to landfill these recyclable items. This whole crazy situation begs a question: Why as a community do we think nothing of underwriting the cost of trash pick-up, through our monthly fees, but require that recycling programs be self-supporting?

Why can we throw out as much trash as we want each week, all of us paying the same fee, but recycling must pay for itself? It’s ludicrous that taxpayers are currently paying to landfill recyclables. And it also makes no sense that trash pick-up isn’t treated like other utilities, charging people for what they use.

Why should I be charged the same as my neighbor who throws out four times more trash than I do? We would be outraged if the electric company did business that way.

It’s time for the state of West Virginia to reevaluate its solid waste management strategy and place a higher importance on the role of recycling.

Linda Frame

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