Gary Sienkiewicz: Bring back the reuse table


Published: 10/2/2018 8:06:14 AM
Bring back the reuse table

I’ve always been proud of Northampton for being progressive with regard to recycling and reuse. I believe we were one of the first communities to start recycling in the 1970s, and I personally am a strong believer in the “waste not want not” principle, a trait I picked up from my Yankee grandparents who had gone through The Depression.

So when I saw that the “reuse table” at the Locust Street recycling center was gone I was very disappointed. When I inquired about it, I got a few different reasons for its removal, so I went to the person who made the decision. However, I came away more confused than ever. It seems the problem, as she explained it, is that they don’t have a place to store the items that don’t get taken at the end of the day and the attendants aren’t able to keep people from leaving junk that then has to be disposed of by the city.

They suggest several alternatives to throwing things away such as bringing it to charities or bringing it up to the ReCenter at Glendale Road on Wednesday mornings or Saturdays. I brought some things to Glendale on a Wednesday morning and was told by the attendants that the ReCenter isn’t open on Wednesdays and I could either come back on Saturday or give them two dollars and they would throw it out for me. I wasn’t going to do that because I wanted it reused, and besides what I had would have only used about a third of a $1.50 bag.

So I drove 10 miles round trip for nothing. I think the DPW’s idea might have been good on paper, but it doesn’t have much to do with the reality of the situation. Because I help maintain the book shed, I am at the Locust Street site more than most and, interestingly enough, I’ve never seen a problem. What I have seen is people putting items on the table and other people picking up an item or two off the table that they were thrilled to find. I’ve also on occasion watched the attendants “clean” the table of un-taken items at the end of a shift, and contrary to what management might think, not everything is thrown in the trash. Some items get tossed in the salvage metal bin. Some get tossed in paper, and some get tossed in the Salvation Army bin. And I’ve also seen a couple of the attendants take items up to the ReCenter because they work at Glendale on some Saturdays.

But what I’m seeing now is people coming in with a few items, looking for the table and being told that the table is gone. They are then referred to the sign above the table that lists the charities and the ReCenter at Glendale (which by the way is only open on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.). People aren’t going to make a special trip to Glendale to leave a couple of items so, those items usually end up in their trash bag. So much for ReUse! Now at Locust Street, it’s just Reduce, Recycle. Like many other situations in life, the powers that be find it easier to shut something down rather than deal with the root of the problem, no matter how big or small. I hope they will reconsider their decision and bring back the reuse table. It’s such a little thing, but so many people miss it.

Gary Sienkiewicz


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