The Green Security State

Via Hit and Run:

Chris Martin, Coldplay lead singer founder and frontman of the CleanScapes waste removal agency, is bidding for a piece of Seattle's garbage collection contract.

Martin is allowed to implement what he calls "my best idea, my
get-people-riled-up thing," we could all soon be subject to a kind of
garbage audit, too. He wants to bring the equivalent of the red-light
camera to your front curb. Just as the traffic camera captures you
running through a stoplight, CleanScapes' incriminating photos would
catch you improperly disposing of a milk carton. (It belongs in the
recycling bin.)

"We could do it the nice way," he says, meaning
his company would e-mail you pictures of your detritus, along with
helpful information about separating out recyclables. Or, he says,
CleanScapes could send the pictures on to municipal inspectors, and
"the city could enforce its own laws." (While the city has sent warning
letters, no fines have ever been issued, according to Seattle Public

The vast majority of recycling is a net loss, both in dollars and in energy.  Only a few items (scrap iron, aluminum cans, bulk news print) make any sense at all in curbside recycling programs.  Milk cartons are not one of them.  The rest of the curbside recycling we do is merely symbolism actions that demonstrate our commitment to the cause, much like reciting a liturgy in church (Interestingly, the more honest environmentalists have admitted this, but still support the program because they believe the symbolic action is an important source of public commitment to the environment).

I guess it is not surprising to see folks like Mr. Martin bring the full power of the state to bear to make sure you are sorting your milk cartons correctly.  After all, in previous generations, the powers-that-be in small towns would employ people to watch for folks skipping out on church, and nations like Cuba still use neighborhood watches to spy out political heresy.  It's just a sign of the times that now such tactics are being used to smoke out environmental heresy.


  1. la petite chou chou:

    Ugh. That makes me like Coldplay less. Also, 1) I don't separate anything because the homeless around here will do it for you when they raid the dumpsters, and 2) lots of recycling just goes to the dump and sits in a separate pile...not being recycled...

  2. Streaker:

    Isn't that wonderful? I sure am looking forward to the day when government micro-manages every facet of my life. From making sure that I fold and sort my undies in the approved (by voters of course) manner to street cameras that monitor my vehicle's speed every 10 meters. That sure will be a burden off my shoulders!

  3. ChrisRet:

    I bought a townhouse for my kids to use as they go to the University of Guelph (in Ontario, Canada). Guelph requires 3 way seperation of garbage and requires use of translucent garbage bags with the appropriate color hue. My kids call it the "Garbage Nazis": get the wrong thing in the bag, and it's left on the curb. The townhouse then tries to ding the units on the uncollected trash.

    What's frustrating is that this is so useless: they aren't saving the planet, just installing social controls (IMO).