BY MADGE MIDGELY
I have spoken in a previous article about some things Cheyenne is in abundance. One of those things being trash, another one being the big "W” (the wind.)
Let me be even more concise with the first one – trash. Specifically discarded liquor receptacles. Which leads to another abundance in Cheyenne, all those liquor stores.
I live smack dab about three to four blocks away from two pubs, one of which also serves as a liquor store.
During this Sober October, I am trying to take more walks with my dog, and as the wind picks up, it is evident where the litter congregates. As I walk along Ridge Road, I am disgusted by the number of discarded shooters, crushed beer cans, broken glass bottles and empty plastic fifths.
It is these leftover remnants that make me wonder: What the hell? Are people throwing these things out of vehicles? Specifically, the broken beer bottles that litter the roadside of my fence.
I figure the shooters, the fifths and the cans are from people who walk to the liquor store and drink their beverage on the go. They are too lazy to find one of the many garbage/recycle cans down the alleyway to throw their trash into. Instead, they leave them in the walkway, many times on the roadside fenced area in front of a children's day care center. Really classy.
The other day I was researching the incredible inflation of alcohol prices. It was eye-opening. For reference, I recommend watching this short breakdown video on the actual cost of vodka. (https://cutt.ly/ReuruYD)
Just recently our own liquor commission raised prices on several brands that are distributed. Talking to a liquor store manager, it sounded like the price inflation would only affect mid- to high-range products.
I never see an empty bottle of Glenlivet or Jameson on the ground. It is always the cheapest stuff that says, "The people who are leaving this trash probably can't afford more, and the attitude of leaving trash doesn't seem problematic to the person tossing it on the sidewalk."
The question is: If you are a liquor store owner in a neighborhood, do you realize the trash leftover from purchases at your store is a bothersome, yet controllable, blight?
We are well aware that Cheyenne is behind the times in the recycling game. Yet in other places/states you can go to any main grocery store with your empty plastic bottles, cans and glass, pop ’em into a machine much like Coinstar, and get a printed receipt that will allow you to get cash back on the deposits. This is called convenience and incentive.
My suggestion while we wait in these dark ages of local recycling is to petition liquor store owners to specifically employ people who are willing to walk a half-mile radius around their stores and pick up all the discarded liquor receptacles and return them to the store to be properly disposed of.
I don't care if you employ people by the weight of the waste being returned or if you want to put them on an hourly wage. But something needs to change in our attitude about all of this disgusting alcohol refuse. The best way to do that is to build an incentive, even if it affects your convenience.
Sure, some of the people willing to do this job would probably be willing to do it in trade for more alcohol. That is acceptable in the sense that they will make sure not to throw the next bottle in the street because if they keep it and return it with the other ones they find. They can get another bottle.
We aren't going to stop selling liquor in this town; we are fueled by it. But it's time that liquor store owners take some responsibility for the waste they are creating in our neighborhoods.
We need a cleanup effort that benefits the community at large. And a plan like this could assist with eliminating a fraction of the trash we have blowing around our streets and getting stuck in our waterways and gutters.
If this sounds like a pain, perhaps it’s time to invest in one of those machines that will pay back on deposits. Just know that those require maintenance and cleaning – another job that probably won't have a big demand.
Also, there is the issue of getting all of those reclaimed products to a place that will follow through with the actual recycling process.
I want to do my best to encourage our town. Trash is one of our biggest problems. I am offering a few solutions that can help mitigate a fraction of that problem by a slight shift in viewpoint and possibility.
As always, Cheyenne, the proverbial ball is in your court. Do you desire positive changes? I do.
Madge Midgely is a local writer.