Dear Ace: The city distributes free plastic bags for leaf collection. Where do these bags go once the leaves are dumped out? To the landfill?—Liv N. Green
Liv: Ace wasn’t sure he should uncover the truth to this one. After all of his good tidings, he feels like maybe he’s dropping the ball a little bit. So, here’s a sweet story to get you through what’s to come: Yesterday, Ace was in line at the grocery store (Monday night at Ace’s Love Shack means beer and pizza bagels) and noticed that an elderly woman ahead of him in line couldn’t make the right change. After much digging, the patron directly in front of Ace handed her two pennies. It was a brief moment, but Ace felt proud of his fellow man for the rest of the day.
Instead of recycling all the bags they distribute (and eventually collect), at this point all the city can do is take the bags to the landfill.
That was, until he talked to his old pal Steve Lawson, Charlottesville’s public service manager. Steve says he has been investigating where to get the leaf bags recycled, but he’s come to find that no one will take them. They’re very dirty once the leaves are dumped, Steve says.
Instead of recycling all the bags they distribute (and eventually collect), at this point all the city can do is take the bags to the landfill. When they get enough, all of the leaves are compacted into a formation that measures about 20 cubic yards. Ace did a little research, and compacting trash saves about two to three times the amount of space in your trash can (or, in the case of these leaf bags, the landfill). So, the news that the city doesn’t recycle the plastic bags isn’t all bad.
City residents also have the option of raking their leaves to the curb for the street sweeper. Ace doesn’t really recommend that, though. He likes clear sidewalks in the morning on his way to work.
And, hey, even though shoving piles of plastic under the earth’s surface is less than desirable, try to remember: It ain’t always easy bein’ green.
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 18 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to email@example.com.