Within the last few weeks residents throughout St. Petersburg have demonstrated emotions that have ranged between upset and ecstatic to come home to find huge blue recycling containers adorning their curbsides.
While there are many citizens whom breathed a sigh of relief that St. Petersburg had finally started down a path that keeps us in step with other major urban communities, not everyone in my neighborhood and neighborhoods throughout St. Petersburg welcomed what they initially perceived as an intrusion and yet another hit to their yearly budgets.
Of course there are those whose budgets could support the additional cost per year, however it was about the principle of the matter—they didn’t have a choice and that have initially caused some grief.
For those who have scoffed at the notion that residents in Midtown would complain about the city’s new curbside recycling, consider these realities for many whom live in that area:
• The 1990 Census revealed that the unemployment rate in the city of St. Petersburg was 5.6 percent compared to an unemployment rate in Midtown of 10.6 percent.
In 2013 the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners commissioned an update on the economic impact of poverty within Pinellas County. Within that report the following facts emerged regarding the economic realities of some in South St. Petersburg:
• South St. Petersburg is the largest At-Risk Zone, with an estimated population of 74,275 and an average household size of 2.4, approximately 25 percent of our population (18,569) live at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level
• Within this zone, meaning Midtown, there is a high concentration of poverty. Forty-eight percent of people whom live in poverty live within Midtown
• Of the individuals living in poverty in south St. Petersburg 63 percent are African American, 27 percent are white, 5 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are of another race
With these facts it should have been indisputably clear, there was going to be a level of angst among those who just have not felt the heat from the rays of sunshine, quite yet!
However, now that curbside recycling is here, like any other major life change, the change becomes easier to embrace when we understand what we are facing. In a brief conversation with the City of St. Petersburg’s Sanitation Director Ben Shirley, let’s begin the education about curb side recycling with a couple of facts:
• Curbside recycling collection will begin on June 29, 2015
• Your recycling items will be collected the day opposite your trash pick -up, for example, if your trash is picked up on Tuesday, your recycled items will be picked up on Mondays
• The $2.95 fee will be assessed to your bill even if you insist you do not want to recycle
• If your recycling bend is filled with items other than recyclable items your container will not be emptied
• The sanitation truck and the recycling bend are equipped with technology that can track the items collected from your bend, therefore if the city finds that you are consistently filling your recycling bend with inappropriate items you will be visited by a city inspector.
As a community it is my hope that we embrace curbside recycling as a necessary strategy aimed at saving the planet that we depend on and that we hope will be around for our future generations!
~ Maria Scruggs