Just Another Point of View

I need to begin this with a confession.

I live in Portland. In my business, this is sort of sacrilegious. But, since the papers I work on most of the time circulate in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, I need to point out that I almost live in Tigard (just across the county line, not far from PCC's Sylvania campus).

I do almost all of my shopping in Tigard and Beaverton, though. And besides, I figured out long ago that I can't live in all of our communities anyway - so, what's the harm, right?

I also almost live in Lake Oswego - but, again, not quite. The closest school to my house is Jackson Middle School.

Anyway, the reason for all this explanation is not because I think anybody really cares where I live - but because I heard them talking on KPAM's Bob Miller Show last week about the city of Portland's 'slop buckets' and I thought to myself: Finally, something I know about.

As Mr. Miller pointed out on the radio, you folks in Tigard and Beaverton don't have all this compost stuff that my city ('The City That Works') has devised for us to control what goes into the landfill.

To refresh a bit, I should point out that back in the fall - ironically enough, it was on Halloween - all of us in Portland switched to a completely new garbage and recycling program.

Our actual garbage pickup changed from weekly to every other week. But, along with that, our recycling pickup changed to every week. That meant they would come and empty our big blue, rolling recycling bins, which we fill with metal, cans, paper, cardboard, plastic containers and bottles - all the usual recycleable items. They also take glass jars and bottles, but those we put in a yellow recycling bin.

They also dump our big green, rolling yard debris bin every week now (this is huge, because I can produce a lot of yard debris in no time at all). But wait, there's more. The green bin will also take compost material, which, we have been assured, includes every known food item (including meat, poultry and fish bones, guts, heads, grease, you name it).

And this is where the slop bucket comes in. They gave us a cute little tan bucket with a hinged lid to dump our slop into during the week. This is where we keep the plate scrapings, the potato peelings, the apple cores, etc. until we're ready to go out in the rain to wherever our big green bin waits.

Now, at our house, we have a continuing 'discussion' going about how best to use these great new composting tools. For one thing, we already have a compost in the back yard, where we put leaves and grass clippings and many of the items we fish out of the kitchen sink, like fruit and vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, etc.

So, we have another bucket just outside the door, where we put only our best slop. All of the second-tier slop, which no right-thinking person would put in his own compost (because it includes meat, bones and grease), goes to the city of Portland, and what they do with it, I have no idea.

We used to keep our slop bucket on the kitchen counter, but the other person who lives at our house has vetoed that - not only because it's kind of gross; we also don't have a lot of extra counter space to spare. So, it stays under the sink, with the dish pan, the garbage can and whatever else is under there.

Now, the whole topic of discussion on the Bob Miller Show the other day centered around a program in which the city was sending out people door-to-door to talk to people about how they're getting along with all their new color-coded composting and recycling devices, if they have any questions, feedback for the big brains back at city hall and so on.

The other thing they talked about on the radio was how the city was paying these door-to-door folks $2 for every household where they actually talk to someone - whether they are lovers or haters of the slop bucket. If no one's home and they just have to leave a flier, then they only get 50 cents, which is nowhere near as good as getting $2.

It might be 'The City That Works,' but these people don't work for free. Apparently, to prevent abuse of the system, they actually have to get a signature from the resident to get the big money.

Now, I haven't met any of these door-to-door characters yet, but if I do, you can be sure I will tell them that we love our slop bucket at our house. Not enough to keep it on the counter, of course, but close enough to use it.

I also promise to sign my real name - not Roy Orbison, like I usually do when people nag me to sign something I don't know anything about.

Former editor of the Lake Oswego Review and former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections for Community Newspapers and contributes a regular column.

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