Piece of Mind: Recycling Becomes Casualty of Indifference

Jun 22, 2020

By John Kanelis

This story disappointed me greatly, but at some level I wasn’t terribly surprised, as I have seen this scenario play out before.

Commerce Cares Recycling decided to discontinue its work collecting recyclable materials, saying that too many residents were carelessly tossing trash into the recycling bins. Commerce Cares couldn’t devote the time and effort to separate the trash from items to be recycled … so it surrendered.

I watched another community experiment with recycling, only to surrender to residents’ refusal to play by the rules. Amarillo went through a period of recycling, putting receptacles in public parking lots for residents to take their recyclable material. Then the city gave it up for the same reasons cited by Commerce Cares Recycling.

Ah, but not to be dissuaded completely, we now have word that Texas A&M-Commerce officials are meeting with city leaders to find a way to continue recycling in Commerce. Hot diggedy, I tell ya!

The Greenville Herald-Banner reported: “’We want to make sure that people understand that recycling will continue,’ Texas A&M University-Commerce Director of Campus Operations and Safety Derek Preas told the Herald-Banner. The people of Commerce deserve to have recycling.”

Yes, they do deserve to have it. The concern all along has been whether they are willing to do their part. It’s not that Commerce Cares was asking residents to do too much to maintain recycling. I detect there appears to be a form of collective laziness setting. Too bad. Maybe that will change if A&M-Commerce and the city can come up with an alternative.

The Herald-Banner reported further: “’We also have no ill will toward volunteers with Commerce Cares or to the Commerce Beautification Commission, because they have all been a tremendous help to the community in supporting their desire to do what’s right and recycle,’ Preas added.”

A&M-Commerce plans to present an updated recycling plan to the City Council in the coming weeks. My hope – as a resident in a community that enjoys tremendous recycling success – is that there can be a new plan devised and accepted by the governing body.

My wife and I now live in a community that embraces recycling. Princeton’s governing officials swear by it and are happy that residents have embraced the practice as a way to preserve resources and protect the environment. I hope they can spread the joy to our neighbors in Commerce.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.