West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

The Art of the Cart

City services

Talk to anybody around Tosa and they’ve got one thing on their mind: Jeez, those new recycling carts are ugly!


Yeah, it’s funny. Everyone seems pretty focused on the aesthetics of the carts rather than the new system itself.


People are resistant to change, but also complain a fair amount when an existing system is expensive, out-of-date or no longer works. Or, apparently, when it doesn’t look attractive next to their house.


Since I’ve lived in Tosa, I’ve become well-acquainted with the blue bag recycling system. It was a simple system. Fill the bags with recyclables and put them out with the garbage. But problems arose when you ran out of the blue bags. Plus, they were unbelievably expensive. (Which made it particularly irritating when the handle ties would break - grrr.)


Thanks to a fire at the recycling center last fall, our recycling program had to be restarted and revamped. Thus, the birth of the black and yellow beauties.


Right off the bat, it seems like people are not understanding the new program. (Perhaps because many of us didn’t get schedules or instructions with the cart.) Driving around my neighborhood, I saw lots of recycling carts sitting out next to garbage carts. Two problems: First, the first pickup is every other week, with the weeks alternating depending on where you live. Secondly, the recycling carts need to be THREE FEET away from the garbage carts so the automated truck can properly retrieve it and empty the contents.


The other challenge is re-thinking the recycling collection in our houses. For the past 10 years, we’ve had a couple of blue-bag-lined garbage cans to collect glass and aluminum. Although I can use a regular garbage bag to collect them, I can’t put the bag in the new cart. My solution is to put paper grocery bags in those garbage cans. When we fill them up, we can put the paper bags and the contents right in the new recycling cart.


So here we sit, with these bee-themed behemoths gracing our property. Many people have told me that they’re looking for ways to hide them when they’re not sitting curbside, awaiting pickup.


This makes me think of just one thing: Since when did we care how pretty our garbage carts were? I mean, really. They’re for garbage, not decoration. I don’t think the current carts are anything to display prominently either, but what do I know?


I think we need to give these black and yellow babies a chance. Look up your scheduled pickup here and make sure the cart is three feet away from the other carts when it’s your pickup day. I think we can do this, no matter how ugly it is.


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