Mayor Baker explains why St. Pete has no curbside recycling

"I think the emphasis on that is misplaced," Mayor Baker said. "There's a tendency to focus on 'this is all about curbside recycling'. It's really all about helping the environment." To implement a curbside recycling program, the city would have to field another fleet of large diesel-fueled trucks. The convenience of curbside pick-up would also involve polluting the air with their emissions, resulting-some would argue-in a greater harm than good for the environment in the long run. "If we turn around and pollute the air while we're trying to help the environment, I don't see how that makes any sense," he adds. "The system should be designed not with the end in mind of doing a particular program, but with the end in mind of helping the environment."

Some might even say curbside recycling is the lazy man's way of "going green." There are other ways of protecting the environment than separating your trash, such as maybe not turning the A/C on so high, and St. Pete does offer a recyling program in the form of drop off locations throughout the city in convenient and frequented locations, such as grocery stores, schools and churches. There are 22 city drop off recyling facilities in all, and over 130 private facilities. The citizens of St. Pete, however, are certainly not lazy. St. Pete still recycles more material than any other city in Pinellas, and is outdone by only two other cities in the entire State.

Pinellas County is considering implementing a county wide curbside recycling program, and Mayor Baker has been emphasising that this should be a carbon neutral program. "It should not be a program to help the environment and then turn around and pollute the environment." There are ways off accieving this, such as using a better fuel than diesel or conteracing air emmisions by planting trees (an estimataed 800 trees would be needed to this).

Mayor Baker does see one benefit in a curbside recycling program: "It helps people to participate in the process, and that's good, but there are so many [other] components of the process that to focus solely on Curbside recycling is something of a misplaced focus."

I'll leave it to my readers to decide, but one thing we can all agree on is that more people getting involved and taking action for the environment can only be a good thing.

St. Petersburg, charming and picturesque as the city is, has suffered one consistant complaint from its residents: the lack of a city curbside recycling program. I've even made this complaint from myself, finding it odd that North Pinellas would have curbside recycling, while a more progressive and environmentally aware area of the same county would not.

Under the watch of Mayor Rick Baker, St. Petersburg became the first "green city" in Florida, and once the example was set, many other Sunshine State cities followed (often encouraged by Mayor Baker himself). The Mayor even drives a hybrid car, so the lack of curbside recycling is not through a lack of consideration for the environment, inconsistent as that seems at the surface.

I knew there had to be a logical explanation for it, though. Surely Mayor Baker must have a reason for not implementing such a program, especially with so many voter's voices in favor of it, so when I had a chance to talk to the man, it was one of the first questions I asked him.

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