Try composting, and up collection frequency

The Jan. 26 editorial “Minnesota needs a lot more trash talk” emphasized that composting relieves the landfill strain but neglected to note the other significant benefit: Cleaner water. Led by an organization called Linden Hills Power & Light, our neighborhood pioneered curbside compost pickup in Minneapolis. In our household, we quickly discovered that by collecting all of our food preparation and table scraps for composting, among a surprising number of other items, we no longer used our garbage disposal. It’s sobering to consider the volume of food products we, as a community, flush down our drains. What is their impact on our waste-treatment process? If composted, these materials would be naturally sterilized by heat and turned into a valuable agricultural medium.

We removed the disposal, which, as our plumber pointed out, eliminated some very common potential plumbing problems. Win-win.

DAVID C. SMITH, Minneapolis

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One of the impediments is the frequency with which recycling is picked up. In Minneapolis, our trash is collected weekly but recycling every other week. On many occasions, our recycling bin has been full after a week, leading us to start putting our recyclables in the trash bin.

BOB PETERSON, Minneapolis

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Unless recyclables end up in a landfill or incinerator due to fluctuations in recycling markets, or the actual lack of markets, recycling puts our collective wastes to good use. Otherwise, recyclables end up in a landfill somewhere, where the costs for “holding” them goes on into perpetuity or may contribute to air-quality issues. After reading recent articles about recycling, I believe there’s an action that should join proposed solutions such as a “bottle bill,” and I believe it has been omitted because of the investment it would require by industry.

“Big Industry,” by the way, is not the enemy here. It is the most integral part of the solution. Simply put: Require all industries, where practical and applicable, to create their products from recycled materials. This would create instant markets for high-quality recyclables. The first challenge would be to define what “where practical and applicable” means. The second would be finding the billions of dollars it would cost to retrofit industrial and manufacturing processes. This would not be easy. Easy, however, is seldom the solution to anything.

CARTER KUEHN, Brainerd, Minn.



How will we know if the mainstream wins?

Kudos to D.J. Tice for his Jan. 26 commentary “The fight to define the right: Caution vs. caution-to-the-wind.” He clarified and advanced the debate, and he did it with poetic, picture-painting expressions.

Most pundits assume that “mainstream conservatives” are the silent majority and will win this showdown. The reality appears to be that, at least for now, the “fire-breathers” are running the show. I hope Tice will do a follow-up with specific examples of mainstream conservative victories over Tea Party militants — and also explain how we will know when this showdown is over or whether it is permanent warfare.


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Tice’s dichotomy — “unlike progressives, conservatives actually believe in the marketplace” — needs further study. Both conservatives and progressives believe in the marketplace economy and use it every day. Both political parties accept billions of dollars in contributions and feel a heap of obligation to corporations. Progressives, however, are not quite so willing to worship the “free market” — because it is, in fact, not free.

A quick glimpse of some Jan. 26 headlines suggests that “progressives” are closer to the truth:

• “Recipe for outbreak: Sick food workers”: Dozens are poisoned after caterers fail to follow guidelines.

• “Minnesotans fight for the pollinators”: The response to a die-off in honeybees, caused most likely by pesticides in modern agriculture.

• “Ballpark cleanup gets grant funds”: A problem with brownfield soil at the downtown St. Paul Saints site, caused by past business use.

The market may be free for corporations. But in the real world reported by your daily newspaper, the public pays.




Candidates should have more than ambition

Lori Sturdevant’s Jan. 26 column on Rep. Phyllis Kahn’s tenure in public office aptly describes the quandary before many precinct caucus attendees this year. Will they re-endorse long-term, trusted public servants, or get behind newcomers? Kahn’s announced opponent, Mohamud Noor, will certainly be asked why, when he was just appointed to the Minneapolis school board, he immediately announced that he’d prefer to be in the Legislature. This seems strange when he says his big interest is education. Caucus attendees should be asking all potential candidates why they want a particular office and what they intend to do — or pursue — if elected.




Lori Sturdevant’s Jan. 26 column incorrectly identified the name of an actor who is supporting State. Rep. Phyllis Kahn. The endorsement is being given by Barkhad Abdirahman.