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May 8, 2008

The Post-Standard

No deposit, no return: 23-to-1
by Sean Kirst

I worked a long day yesterday, and I hadn't gone for a run since the Goat, so I decided to go out and cover a few miles around 11:30 pm or so. It was warm and a little moist but generally beautiful, and there is something almost spiritual about the solitude of a late-night run in the city; indeed, I often see others doing the same thing.

This was trash night, and people had their garbage cans and blue bins set out by the curb, and I figured I'd use the run to do a little survey: I'd pick up every can or glass and plastic bottle that I saw, and I'd toss them into blue bins as I ran. We live in a neighborhood where the litter is pretty much under control, but you still get plenty of stuff thrown out car windows or dropped by kids as they're walking to school.

This what my tally, and my numbers are probably conservative: I picked up a couple of dozen containers. Only one of them was a returnable soda can, and that had been crushed to the point where someone claiming containers for the nickel would have easily missed it. The rest were sports drink or juice or water bottles, and they were thrown onto people's yards or along the curb.

Obvious reality: If those bottles were covered by the bigger Bottle Bill, someone would pick them up and turn them in, which is what must be happening with soda bottles. Those opposed to deposits can make all the arguments they want, but here is one indisputable truth: The new Bottle Bill would make for a cleaner, more welcoming state - literally overnight - and to oppose it is to accept we'll have more garbage on our streets.

In the meantime, we'll do our best to pick it up.


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