Clear Thinking on the Glass Crisis | Letters | Chicago Reader

Clear Thinking on the Glass Crisis 

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To the editors:

With regard to the bottle-deposit ordinance I read about in Mr. Peter Friederici's article "Environment: No Deposit, No Return" [March 3, 1989], which ordinance Joseph Phelps, a Chicago parks commissioner, has proposed in order to reduce broken glass in the parks, since I can remember (which is about thirty years ago) this ordinance was in effect on and off in New York City. The reason this ordinance was in effect on and off was not because the beverage industry was spending a great deal of money to repeal it, as Mr. Phelps said. To the contrary, it were the people who were annoyed by it, especially the busy mothers who bought beverages for their families to drink at home and were overburdened with the redeeming of the bottles that had always managed to repeal it. They had argued that the bottles with beverages Mom buys for her family are not carried in the streets, just to be smashed in the gutters.

Thus, with regard to the broken glass that our streets our littered with, I can't think of a reason other than as some thuggish youngsters do buy beverages from a street vendor or a grocery store to drink in the street, their deposit would not be enough inducement for them to go back and wait in long lines in order to get it. If anything, as they will be taxed with paying this deposit, they might become enraged and smash the bottles with an even greater ferocity and spread the broken glass in the gutters and streets.

I don't doubt, however, that an ordinance such as this can reduce broken glass in the parks, since the vendors of beverages in parks and the streets alongside the parks must also ask for a deposit. That, and that alone can help reduce broken glass in the parks. That is where this ordinance must be in effect, for it is easy for the youngsters to return the bottles and get their deposits right then and there. For I doubt whether the children carry to the parks beverages Mom buys for their consumption at home, unless they burden themselves with carrying ice-buckets as well; although it is not unusual for people to carry ice-buckets in the parks, more often than not, this happens when children are accompanied by their parents, who aren't likely to get a thrill from smashing bottles there. Another suggestion I'd like to make is that the commissioners of the parks should see to it that enough trash cans or containers are provided in the parks for depositing the bottles.

As to the collection of bottles and other items for recycling, Mr. Phelps can rest assured that is quite effective. In fact, in the large co-op complex where I live, we were told by the management that in order to ensure an even flow of bottles, cans, and newspapers on a daily basis, we shouldn't wait until we saved a lot of them before putting them out for collection.

However, arguments aside, at this point I wish to thank Mr. Peter Friederici for writing this article, thus, giving me the chance to make the above suggestions.

Christina Athanasiades

W. Hood

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