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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: City watching its waste, but why?

It’s an awkward feeling when someone gives you a present and you have nothing to give back in return.

Like last year, when Avista gave away all those boxes of curly, poison-filled light bulbs nobody wanted.

I was highly uncomfortable until a few months later when the truth came out.

The Death Bulb Giveaway was a dodge designed to divert public attention before Avista raised the damned rates again.

Well, it’s happening all over, I fear.

This time, however, the city of Spokane is playing Santa Claus.

Or “Sanitation Claus,” in this case.

I expect you’ve noticed the tall 64-gallon plastic recycling carts that are being dropped off all over town.

According to the cart-attached letter from Mayor David Condon, these shiny blue containers will provide “a truly outstanding curbside recycling service at no additional cost.”


No greater red flag exists than when a public official tells taxpayers that some new service won’t cost ’em a dime.

Assume the position, folks.

Frankly, I don’t know what was so horrible about the old, smaller recycling tubs that I hardly ever used.

Directions atop the new carts say the container is for clean recyclables only.

So used porno goes in the brown cart, just like always.

Brown for garbage. Blue for recyclables. Green for yard waste …

What’s next?

Salmon-colored carts for uneaten fish?

Red for body-part disposal?

According to the Condon Trashfesto, recyclables put into the new containers will be dispatched to a “SMART Center.”

I’m not sure where this SMART Center is, but I’m willing to bet it’s not City Hall.

Why must garbage be so complicated, anyway?

Back in the good ol’ days, Spokane homeowners took care of their garbage in an orderly fashion.

Tin cans, busted carburetors and other metallic junk went into corrugated cans.

Tires, stained mattresses and broken furniture got dumped on the outskirts of town.

Everything else was burned on the street or in the family furnace.

I still have vivid (somewhat disturbing) memories of my father who – dressed in his underwear with work shoes and long dark dress socks – would feed the family’s used paper goods into the glowing maw of our behemoth coal stoker.

As years slogged by, the government began to take away more and more of the citizenry’s disposal rights.

Eventually, the town’s collection system was enhanced with fancy trucks, the Wasted Energy Plant and, of course, the Garbage Goat at Riverfront Park.

Then the recycling craze hit, and now everybody’s trying to save the planet.

Even many local thieves have become environmentally conscious and are working hard to recycle all the copper wiring out of the businesses and homes they burgle.

But in all the eco-frenzy, it appears no one has paused to ask the essential question.

Is the planet worth saving?

Have you seen reality television lately? Have you seen “Jersey Shore”? Have you seen that wretched child, Honey Boo Boo?

The garbage has already won.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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