2015-09-10 / Opinion

Silence is Golden

As Newport’s summer visitors begin to find their way out of town and September ambles toward October, we are tempted to cautiously proclaim that our city seems no worse off for wear. All summer long, in fact, the downtown streets and sidewalks have seemed unusually clean and, well, largely litter-free.

Of course there was some litter and debris. It would be ludicrous to expect that an international resort community could go through its busiest time of year, in the busiest part of the city, without a few paper cups, candy wrappers, soda, beer cans, and whatnot ending up in places they did not belong.

But it never reached a point where you wanted to throw your hands up and shout, “What’s going on here?”

It seems as though the highly touted Clean City program just might be working. In fact, we’ve heard little or no complaining about any of the program’s elements. Silence is golden?

When first you learn of the program’s watchwords, “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle,” the temptation is to mutter, “All right already.” But when you actually stop and think about the goals of this program, it all makes sense. And, it now seems as though we are not alone. For in Newport, we now recycle more than we ever have before.

And the more of this stuff we keep out of the landfill, the longer we avoid paying bigger bucks to truck our trash to some remotely located, out-of-state landfill. We may not feel as though we’ve saved much by doing this, but over the long term it means the city government has to collect fewer tax dollars to maintain a clean city.

And everyone benefits.

On our downtown streets, what now seem like an army of “Bigbelly” solar trash compactors gobble trash and emit signals that inform their Waste Management Company handlers when they are full. They make old-fashioned metal trash barrels seem like sad relics. That they sometimes still smell like their outdated counterparts when full just proves once more that you can’t have everything.

Another less visible but nevertheless useful program this summer was a “Clean Team” program that employed a handful of teenagers to collect litter—including ever-present cigarette butts—and properly dispose of it.

On Aug. 1, the “overflow” trash bags that city residents can use on those weeks when they have more trash than usual, went on sale. These 33-gallon, specially marked plastic bags are sold by various well-known retailers around the city. The cost is $12 for a roll of five bags and they're the only bags that Waste Management will pick up.

Speaking of the large blue (recycling) and black (trash) bins, they may have taken some getting used to. But as we mentioned earlier, we’re not hearing anything at all about them these days.

Silence is golden.

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