A few months ago I wrote to the Independent with what I thought was a clever way to get rid of old household batteries—put ’em in a plastic bag, set ’em on top of your garbage can lid, and have the trash collectors pick ’em up and dispose of them properly. Of course, this would require the cooperation of our two South Coast trash-collecting services, Allied Waste and MarBorg. This would require virtually no extra effort by anybody, it certainly wouldn’t cost anything extra, and it would seem to be a win-win situation for everybody—most of all, the planet.

Mario Borgatello himself, owner of MarBorg, actually called me the day after my letter appeared, telling me he thought this was a good idea. I was impressed.

But here it is months later, and nothing has been done in this regard. I called both Allied Waste and MarBorg this week to ask what to do with old batteries and was told by both companies to bring them to the recycling center. Nothing new here.

Now, while I do recycle and make periodic trips to the recycling center, a lot of people don’t, nor are they going to make a special trip there just to get rid of a few AAA batteries. And those batteries, of course, are just going to be thrown out with the regular garbage and carted off to disposal sites where they will proceed to break down and seep into the soil, releasing their poisons into the earth.

I would like to pose the following question again to both MarBorg and Allied Waste: Why can’t people simply put old batteries in plastic bags and leave them on their garbage can lids for pickup by your employees? All you would have to do to get them to do so is insert a notice with the monthly trash bill that this will be done, and issue a few public-service stories and announcements in the local print and broadcast media.

Ye gawds, is it really that difficult a concept to grasp? Santa Barbarans are among the most ecologically minded people in the country, yet the people who can actually do something to help the cause turn a blind eye to the problem.


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