You can’t CON me, Dallas!

By Nancy Black

I have the distinct pleasure of being the parent of a media-crazed 14-year-old. Part of that joy is traveling with a teenager to Pop Con conventions. One, called PAX West, is in Seattle each year. PAX South is in San Antonio. And IndyPopCon? Well, it’s in Indy.

While my child is wandering the convention halls, pretending I don’t exist, I wander the cities. Mostly downtowns, since that’s where convention centers seem to be located. I love seeing the architecture of the buildings and exploring the layout of the city. But I especially love seeing how green, or not so green, the municipalities are when it comes to trash.

Not surprisingly, Seattle tops the list of great cities so far as recycling laws go. Every street corner had a trash can AND a recycling bin. Not only that, but you know those big, ugly metal electrical boxes that are on every street corner in almost every city in the U.S.? Seattle enlisted local artists to transform those transformers into works of art. Each is painted with unique and beautiful artwork by students from neighborhood schools. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think!

San Antonio was prettier than Indy, in my opinion, but both had stellar, and convenient, recycling programs. From the airports to the hotels and even in the restaurants, recycling was an easy and almost effortless task to accomplish. All three cities had well-managed, docked bike-sharing available. Seattle and Indy had electric car rental stations, too.

Dallas? Dallas gets a D in my grade book. Not only do we not have laws requiring restaurants and bars to recycle all their bottles of beer and booze, we don’t even have enough recycling from our citizens to keep our city’s award-winning, brand new, state-of-the-art recycling center busy!

I was thrilled when the city council passed the plastic bags ordinance. Then I was ashamed when the same people yanked the ordinance because too many stores (lobbyists) complained. When I was at Walmart recently with a friend, she and the check-out clerk laughed at me for complaining about all the plastic bags.

“She’s a recycling nut!” my friend explained to the clerk as they both got a good chuckle out of my disgust. Seriously, the guy was putting one item in each bag, then spinning his big wheel of plastic bags to the next rung, so he could dump another single item into its own plastic bag. What a waste. I prefer stores that give a bag discount for bringing your own reusable totes.

I had a boss once who used to say, “Don’t’ try. Do.” His analogy was, you don’t “try” to pick up a pencil; you “do.” You pick it up.

Dallas is trying. But it’s time to do. The people and businesses who are NOT recycling should be the ones who get laughed at, and fined, for their actions! Our city streets should have recycling bins in addition to our trash bins. The plastic bag ban should be immediately reinstated. And it should be apparent to all visitors that Dallas is serious about recycling and being green.

Of course, like a teenager does to their parent, we could just pretend the problem doesn’t exist.