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Citywide feral carts

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A feral cart basks in the sun on a GR street, a few more lurk in the background.

A feral cart basks in the sun on a GR street, a few more lurk in the background. /markrumsey

We now have a Single Stream Recycling system in Grand Rapids, I am sure there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for it that I missed. It is great and I am happy to put all my recycling into the new blue and yellow carts. Most of the refuse from our household is recycled, we generally put out one bag of trash each month. As the City was delivering the new carts friends around the city reported, block by block, and I waited anxiously for my beautiful new Single Stream Wonder Cart. Finally the day arrived, a crew of people walking the carts from flatbed trailer to our curb, and our neighbor's curb, and on and on down the block. I quickly whisked our new cart to the side of our house next to our refuse can.

Over the next few weeks I noticed a curious phenomenon, that many of the carts seemed to take root on the curbs and tree lawns of our neighborhood. As I traveled around the city, I noticed this was happening everywhere. I understand that the carts are beautiful and new and shiny but my fellow citizens, they are not lawn ornaments. We have specific rules about putting out our refuse in the City, no earlier than 5pm the day prior to scheduled pick-up. You are not allowed to leave your cart on the curb or in your front yard as a permanent fixture.

 I understand that there are some special circumstances within this situation. On our street an extra cart was delivered, in front of three single family homes they placed four carts. Each house took one cart and one was left unclaimed, still sitting in the street. Others may not be familiar with the recycling program or even why the cart was delivered. To have a cart delivered residents were to make a request, I am under the impression that the carts were delivered a little more haphazardly. I have noticed that many of the feral carts sit in front of rental properties, maybe the tenant/owner agreement does not cover how to properly use or store the cart. Regardless of why, the carts still need to be tended to.

If you choose to leave your cart on the curb or in your front yard or on your tree lawn the least you can do for your community is to decorate it. Maybe we need to launch CartPrize to encourage people to tame and decorate their feral carts. I think that you will be amazed at what you can do with some bottle caps and a hot glue gun. If you are a little more handy you could add appendages, maybe a nice set of wings made out of your old recycling bins?  

Bottom line, do something with your cart. If it is sitting in front of your house than it is yours to take care of. If you do not want it then call the city and have them pick it up (616-456-3000). I have called the city about the feral cart on our street and I am pretty certain our neighbors have too. If you want to take advantage of our awesome recycling system, then reel it in and store it somewhere not in view from the street.

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Can I have your extra cart? For my six-unit apartment, they only dropped off four carts.

It would be interesting to truly quantify the homes with feral carts - are there truly more with apartments than owner-occupied residences?

George, you know where i live, stop and grab the cart if you like. The rental verses owner link is based on my observation only, no formal study, just my working knowledge of the neighborhood over the years. 

Geo, I think it is pretty amazing that the city supplies recycling carts to apartment buildings. I know that in some other cities, they won't provide trash service to buildings with more than a certain amount of units (can't remember if 4 or 6 was the magic number).

 Great headline, Mark!  Compelling enough to make me go in and read the whole piece.

Maybe residents could simply educate their next-door neighbors if they see a feral cart out front.  Just a friendly chat in the vicinity.



I will figure out how to TNR these ferals and get rid of them.