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Nichols Hills residents can’t afford a recycling program

5:24 AM EDT on September 5, 2018

Oklahoma City may be a transformative 'Big League City' that is getting all kinds of national press and books written about us recently, but life isn't perfect for everyone here. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that almost 18% of residents live under the poverty line, and there are plenty more that are above it but still struggling to afford basic needs.

When times are tough economically, it can have a big impact on the services that the city can afford to provide for its residents. Oklahoma City was finally able to up its recycling game a little bit after recognizing how big of a problem we had with it. Sadly, there are less fortunate communities like Nichols Hills that aren't able to offer those services that are becoming increasingly necessary in an over-polluted world.

From Oklahoma Gazette:

Since the city’s establishment in 1929, Nichols Hills has never maintained a long-term recycling program, city manager Shane Pate said. The city attempted to introduce recycling to the community in 2013 and again in 2017, but both trials were a bust.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to try to establish a recycling program in Nichols Hills,” Pate said. “We took a community poll to determine how residents felt about the idea, and the results we received showed that they are overwhelming opposed to it.”

Residents currently pay a monthly fee between $40 and $44 for biweekly houseside trash pickup. Houseside pickup differs from curbside pickup in that trash containers must be stored and placed for pickup along a side of the house that is shielded from the view of neighbors and traffic.

Nichols Hills uses manual trash pickup as opposed to an automated pickup system in which a truck’s mechanical arms lift and empty containers. A manual trash pickup system requires sanitation employees to get out of their cars and manually pick up and empty containers, being sure to collect any debris that falls on the wayside. The system is great for curbside appeal, Pate said, but costs more.

To maintain the recycling program that was introduced to residents in 2017, Pate said, they would have had to pay an additional monthly fee of $27.50. Had residents chosen to opt for curbside pickup, that fee would have been reduced to about $5.

It's depressing that we live in such a time where an entire city cannot afford to recycle their household goods because of the cost. With a median income of approximately $100,000/year, there's just simply not enough left in the average Nichol Hills resident's budget, after factoring in essential expenses, such as bathroom remodeling, wine cellar upkeep, and weekly pool cleaning. Instead, all of their kombucha bottles and empty jugs of that really nice Tide detergent that I can't afford are going to pile up in landfills and float the ocean for eternity.

Maybe, as good-hearted neighbors, the rest of us in the surrounding metro area can show these down-on-their-luck Nichols Hillsians the Oklahoma Standard. We can start a GoFundMe and raise the necessary money to purchase a fleet of Mercedes recycling pick-up trucks and solve this issue once and for all. Or, perhaps we take a page from our beleaguered friends and adopt their native strategy of dealing with issues, by throwing a $500 per plate fundraiser gala at Oklahoma Golf & Country Club.

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