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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 05/21/2013

At the Park Service, a DIY approach to trash hauling


Look for fewer trash cans on Roosevelt Island. (Ann Cameron Siegal)
In a big win for those who advocate personal responsibility above heavy-handed government, the U.S. Park Service is expanding the rugged-individual approach to a service typically left to Uncle Sam: trash hauling.

How about that for liberty from tyranny?

In a little-noticed move, the Park Service on Earth Day began removing trash cans from sites along the George Washington Memorial Parkway — including popular landmarks like the Iwo Jima Memorial, Great Falls and Roosevelt Island — essentially forcing visitors to take their water bottles, bags of doggie waste, and gum wrappers with them.

The expansion is part of the Park Service’s “Trash Free Parks” initiative, which seeks to reduce the amount of garbage the government has to haul away (right now, it’s 380 tons of trash out of the G.W. Parkway alone). We should note that actually doesn’t mean that there won’t be any trash in the parks — just that there won’t be any trash cans.

Now forgive us for being just the tiniest bit cynical about human nature (an occupational hazard, we suppose), but we were skeptical that folks won’t simply chuck their trash on the ground if a proper receptacle can’t be found.

Jon James, the superintendent of the G.W. Parkway, is more optimistic. “It’s a mindset shift,” he says, adding that the program has worked with great success in other parks, including Catoctin Mountain Park.

The result will save taxpayers, he said, though there’s not estimate yet as to how much. James also said it will allow maintenance workers to spend more time on projects other than trash duty. According to a fact sheet about the project, the park service also lists benefits such as “fostering a partnership between visitors and the park,” and eliminating unsightly trash cans.

Let’s hope it doesn’t replace the blight of trash cans with something worse... like, um, litter.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 05/21/2013

 
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