Beyond the bag-fee debate |

Beyond the bag-fee debate

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

We’ve already gone on record as supporting the proposed fee on single-use grocery bags in the Roaring Fork Valley and nothing we’ve heard in the healthy debate on the topic has changed our opinion. However, we do want to chime in on a couple of ancillary issues that have popped up.

The rhetoric has gotten silly at times in the last few weeks. A bag fee in Aspen, Basalt and possibly Carbondale isn’t going to save the world – but it certainly won’t end life in the Roaring Fork Valley as we know it, as some critics contend.

Elected officials have kicked around the idea of charging a 20-cent fee per paper and plastic bag as a way to force increased use of reusable bags. The fee is yet to be set. Assuming it is 20 cents or less per bag, we doubt that will send anyone to the poor house.

Detractors have also bemoaned the fact that they re-use grocery bags to pick up after pets and line garbage cans in their homes. No one will take away the option to re-use grocery bags. It will just cost slightly more. It doesn’t seem onerous to encourage people to use reusable bags as often as they can, and spend a little extra for grocery bags when necessary.

We find more legitimacy in the concerns of critics who contend local governments could do so much more to help the environment. In the midvalley, for example, we would like to see the town’s environmental board, dubbed “The Green Team,” work on a proposal for a midvalley composting site. It’s ridiculous that so much yard waste gets sent to local landfills because of lack of options for homeowners. After a wind storm look at all the dumpsters stuffed with leaves and small branches that fall down.

Not everyone can or wants to start a backyard compost pile, so it puts environmentally conscious people in a quandary.

The city of Aspen helped provide residents with an option for curbside composting. The city provided containers for compostable materials and got the major trash haulers to agree to pick up the compost. Waste Management, for example, charges $16 per month for picking up compostables at the curb.

Nothing like that exists yet in the midvalley. We think there’s a solid alternative. Basalt has acquired land near the high school and it is focused on continuing agricultural uses there. Some land will get leased to an adjacent rancher. Other land might be devoted to a community garden. We think a corner of the site would be perfect for landscaping compost – leaves, dead flowers, small branches and the like. We’d like to see the Green Team take a leadership role on the project.

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