Saturday, September 16, 2006

Garbage and the mayoral candidates: Swaine offers background & perspective on trying to green Shreveport

Originally uploaded by Editor B.

"I actually emailed each one of our mayoral candidates and asked them about various issues. I also asked them what they did personally to decrease their damage to the environment. Liz Swayne was the only one who responded and I am fairly impressed with the content of the email. Thought you might find this interesting and maybe you could forward it to others," writes Patricia Stafford to Janet Mighell.

Here's most of what Swaine wrote (if you see dots you'll know I shortened a passage):

Hi Patricia:

Goodness! One day I am hoping to get a 'what is your favorite color'
-type question that won't make me think quite so much so early in the
morning... :) Now I am going to make you read this "war and peace"

Let me start with what I have personally done to be friendlier to the
environment. My husband and I both have motorcycles that we try to ride as able in place of driving our 4-wheel vehicles, but of course there are those days for me when helmet hair just won't do...
I have dogs, carry bicycles and loads of signs and whatnot now and
really need a vehicle with capacity, but I opted for a Honda Element.
Though it is an SUV, it gets much better gas mileage than those crazy tanks on the road today.
Up until a few months ago, I composted all household food refuse (except meats) for my garden.
Last week, my husband and I decided the two of us simply did not need a 2100-sf house so we downsized to a 1500- sf home that we renovated in Highland and absolutely love. Our smaller home requires less energy to keep cool/warm.
I try to recycle personal items through Goodwill, Dress for Success and freecycle websites instead of tossing them in the garbage. I have always found it amazing that there always seems to be a taker for almost any castoff stuff.

On the city side...
Shreveport has been aggressive in trying to educate the public on issues that we can have an impact on.

I wrote the information on Ozone and worked closely with our
Environmental Services office on educational material on the Cross Lake Watershed, our hybrid bus (the first in the state), Methane capture at the landfill (which we sell to General Motors), Household Hazardous waste day (see info below) and our Clean Air Committee (which is one of the ways we fight ozone--- by engaging the local business community in the discussion.)

Saturday 09.16.06 8:AM – 12:Noon at Louisiana State
Sponsored by: Shreveport Green, Shreveport Dept of Public Works and Keep Bossier Beautiful
Bring your antifreeze, paint, oil, stain, bleach, disinfectants, fungicides, etc. 219-1888 673-7300 213-2100

On recycling...
we happen to live in a place in which eco-friendliness is not an
ingrained way of life and that is pretty typical in any area where
poverty is high. People here are much more attuned to economic
development, crime, transportation and the more basic 'bread and butter' issues. When I was at KTBS and recycling was making news, I remember doing a story on why Shreveport wasn't involved. We had a recycling coordinator, a fellow named Bill Robertson, and several of those drop-off sites had been set up. The issue was the cost of the set-up, as all-new trucks, bins, etc., would have to be purchased. It was a very substantial initial outlay that with all of the other needs facing the city could not be justified. At that time (and even now), there were no local processing facilities for the recycled goods, so in many cases, the items carefully recycled would all still be dumped into the same landfill. Perhaps even bigger than the cost was the lack of belief that they would be able to educate the public in the minutae of recycling.

I scanned Austin's recycling site and here are just a few of the rules
and regulations.

Place your recycling at the curb by 6:30 a.m. Keep your recycling about 5 feet away from your garbage, if they are collected on the same day. Rinse containers and put the lids in your garbage. Separate paper from the rest of your recycling. Put the paper in a brown, paper grocery bag or a second recycling bin. Flatten corrugated cardboard, cut or fold it . . .

Have you ever driven though Highland on a Saturday before Monday pickup? The city is lucky if stuff makes it into the can so we can haul it away!
It never ceases to amaze me what people leave by the curb expecting the city to 'make disappear'. I can only imagine what would happen if we started asking people to separate paper, plastics, glass, cardboard, yard waste, food products etc. into bins. The garbage collectors would either have to spend untold hours separating that stuff themselves, or more likely, just dump it all into the same truck for, you guessed it, the landfill.

I am truly not as cynical as I sound, just pragmatic. I think there are
opportunities to us to explore.

1. More recycling drop off sites throughout the city combined with an
education campaign. I think Shreveport Green could be very effective in helping with this. Perhaps figure out some sort of incentive for using the bins, such as points for schools. The telephone book recycling is very effective using this.
2. Designate a SMALL area, it would have to be a neighborhood with
buy-in, to use as a pilot program, a 'test case' for recycling. Start in
a small area with a small number of rules (paper, plastic, glass,
everything else) and see how it goes. If it goes well...
3. Consider allowing citizens to vote on recycling. To institute it full
scale, the city will have to charge for garbage pickup, which it does
not do now. Allow residents to tell the city if they will pay $XXX per
month to institute recycling. The city will also have to enact, through
the city council, a 'get tough' stance on those who do not, and that
could mean leaving garbage on the curb to the dismay of neighbors, who will then CALL their councilmember and tell them to get the city to pick it up. (Believe me, I have seen this happen many, many times.) I am sure other cities have already dealt with the issue of non-compliance and we can replicate. Would this mean hiring 'garbage police?' I am unsure. We would need to make sure that was covered in the citizen-passed garbage fees.
4. Appoint a citizen committee to come up with both ideas, AND how to pay for them.

On other issues, I am a strong proponent of the continue strengthening of our Cross Lake Watershed that ecompasses several hundred square miles around the lake. We have been given broad powers in protecting this area. We should continue to work with EPA on our aggressive brownfields development in which former light industrial areas are redeveloped, such as the old Moran Galvanizing plant into a Farmer's Market, etc. We have won millions in federal and state grants to rehabilitate these areas and
I would encourage our grant writer to continue these efforts. Our
partners at the DEQ should respond quickly to our air and water issues. I have not been happy at their speed in dealing with the extreme odors from Louisiana Protein in north Shreveport. No citizen should have to put up with that horrible stench. The "green building" downtown is going to be the National HQ of Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal. The city has helped them access grants for asbestos abatement in the building and I am supportive of their efforts.

OK, whew.

So I may not be the only candidate who responds to your email, but I
will likely be the most verbose. :)

Thanks for the email and I hope you will consider supporting me!


trudeau said...

kathryn Usher, at, wrote "I just started recycling. Surely Liz doesn't mean the bottles and the cans I'm now saving still go into the landfill? Anyone know? - Kathryn"

Lane Butler said...

I just drove all over south east Shreveport looking for a drop off for my accumulated newspaper. Couldn't find a bin anywhere. Guess those big bins are too ugly for this part of town.