Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Technology Takes Out the Trash

Okay, it is Day #5 of school for my kids and I'm finally blogging again - hopefully, more regularly now! Thanks to my readers for sharing ideas all summer. I now have a giant file of things to blog about.

Yesterday, I read an article about the new trash cans at our neighborhood parks and since there happened to be one on our way home from music lessons, decided we just had to stop. As you can see from the picture, it also happens to be the trash can with one of the best views around. That's Puget Sound and Whidbey Island in the background.

They're called BigBellies and, for $4000 a piece, I figured they must be something special. Here's the deal - they are solar-powered trash compactors. Now, you may be asking, why would the city pay 10 times what a normal trash can costs, just to have fancy trash cans?

Well, it turns out that a big cost to the city is paying for the time and gas it takes their employees to make a daily garbage run to all the parks. The BigBelly holds five times the amount of trash of a regular can and uses solar energy to compact it. The city expects to break even on the cost within three years by reducing the number of garbage runs. Even better, once the program is fully in place, they will have reduced their carbon footprint by 45 tons/year.

So, there we were standing in front of the BigBelly. In went the apple core and graham cracker wrapper from their afternoon snack. We thought it might make some cool, smushing noise, but alas, the meter showed it was on empty and in no need of compacting. I guess we'll have to go back on a busy weekend!

My only suggestion for an improvement to the program - put one in for recycling as well.

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