To the editors:

We read your Neighborhood News story about Nancy Sreenan and the bureaucratic “runaround” she contended with, trying to recycle one Christmas tree [February 10]. In Woodstock, the story would have run quite differently. On December 20, 1988, one City Council member moved that the city recycle the Christmas trees it collects curbside, and declare the annual “Burning of the Green” something of the past. Motion carried, and shortly after the holidays the trees were collected and deposited at a site near where the city conducts its leaf and grass clipping composting programs. Since the grant it had been promised for a brush chipper would not be available until April, the city invited companies to come and demonstrate their chippers–and converted all the trees to a mulch which eager gardeners are hauling away. This is how responsive and responsible government should work.

This isn’t all. In January ’88 Woodstock started a new recycling program for city residents, with curbside collection of recyclables combined with a per bag system (the only bags collected by the hauler have been prepaid), giving each household both the incentive to save money by recycling, and making that recycling convenient. In September of the same year, it provided rental space in a city building near the Woodstock Square for a buyback/dropoff and processing center, known as the Woodstock Area Recycling Center, run by the McHenry County Defenders. And even though all of this effort puts Woodstock out front as a recycling city, there is recognition that this is only the beginning. The candidates for City Council, both the incumbents and challengers, would like to see recycling of plastics, more education, different packaging offered in stores, and examining more carefully the disadvantages of what is known as “landfilling.” This city is not only meeting the challenge of responsible waste handling, but setting a pattern for other municipalities to emulate.

Chicago has many concerned citizens committed to recycling as is Ms. Sreenan, and plenty of expertise–such as described in your excellent coverage of Ken Dunn’s recycling operations [November 11]–but where is the leadership? In the Chicago electoral exchanges, we have not heard one comment about waste “solutions,” or about how near a crisis Chicago is. We’re all part of a larger “neighborhood.” Even though we’ve made a start here in Woodstock, the recycling effort needs to be state and nationwide. Let’s get going. What are we waiting for?

Jane and John Collins