Ask the Voters

We’ll always be happy to tell you stories about how people who live in pay-as-you-throw communities like PAYT, find it easy to handle, and appreciate its fairness. (Heck, we’ve even been known to blog about it.) Those stories are great, and they do carry a lot of weight. But sometimes you just need to look at things by the numbers–and we’re happy to say that the results are in on that front too, and that, by the numbers, the voters have spoken in favor of pay-as-you-throw.

Image courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons license

Just this past weekend, Tilton, New Hampshire held its annual town meeting, where more than 100 residents cast votes on all sorts of issues of importance to the town. This year, somebody submitted a proposal (called a “petition warrant”) to rescind the town’s six-month-old pay-as-you-throw program. In response, a representative from Tilton’s recycling committee pointed out that the town has cut its waste by 50% since bringing in PAYT. He was followed by a resident who spoke up in favor of the program. Then the meeting’s moderator asked for somebody to stand up and defend the motion to end PAYT in Tilton, and… crickets. So they ended debate, cast their ballots, and voted 79-22 to keep pay-as-you-throw in place. (That’s a four-to-one margin–a resounding defeat by any measure.)

Something similar happened a couple of months ago in Wellfleet, Mass. After the town began PAYT last December, a pair of local residents set up a drive to recall two members of Wellfleet’s Board of Selectmen who had voted for it. Even before it could go on the ballot, the measure had to get a certain number of signatures–and it could garner only 60% of the support it needed to even come to a vote. The voters spoke in favor of pay-as-you-throw in Wellfleet.

In Malden, Mass., too, a drive to dramatically change PAYT last summer also failed at the signature-collection phase.

You get the picture. The bottom line is this: From time to time, voters are given the chance to have a direct say in whether their community will keep pay-as-you-throw… and again and again, they consistently say yes. Don’t just take our word for it–ask the voters.

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