La Vida Local: Irregular Notes on West End Life
What a Pile of Trash!
By Rosanne Graef
By the time you read this, the 2020 elections will finally be history. But much of the physical detritus from the campaigns will linger on: the flyers, door hangers, palm cards, yard signs and their metal holders, all the instant campaign trash that campaigns generate in ever-increasing quantities every election cycle.
This waste is true for candidates especially. Who really believes that anyone seeing thirty identical signs in the Franklin Street median is going to suddenly say to themselves, “Oh, yes, Peter Promise and Rhonda Reassurance, those are the politicians for me!”?
What a waste!
Hundreds of millions of dollars are thrown away on this advertising orgy in the hope that someone who has voted repeatedly for whatever cult they follow is going to jump ship. Figure the odds. Little other than devoted loyalty to a particular brand of toothpaste is stronger than people’s determination to hold fast to their already established political opinions and theories.
Why donate money to enable the production and distribution of all this junk that folks glance at for ten seconds and heave? The election campaign industrial complex is taking us all for a ride. Meanwhile campaign managers, consultants, strategists, and printers laugh all the way to the bank.
Time to get creative!
At the very least, these campaigns need to show some memorable imagination. If they’re going to send junk to people’s mailboxes and hang it on doors, make the pitch with something useful, clever, beautiful, or funny.
Wouldn’t you rather have a yo-yo with your candidate’s face spinning around and around while you “walk the dog?” Maybe a paper fan inviting you to “Keep Cool with Coolidge” (actual slogan of his 1924 campaign) that you can wave around on a hot August afternoon?
Advertisements that have usefulness beyond the immediate moment of messaging and that reinforce the disposable, wasteful society that we’ve become need to become the hallmarks of forward-thinking, innovative, responsible candidates. Just because others have swamped us with so-called “campaign literature” doesn’t mean it’s the only way to go. Why be like all the other kids?
In the meantime, though, what to do with all the campaign trash you’re facing now?
If it’s paper, recycle it. If it’s a filmy plastic like some signs are now, it will not be recyclable curbside; but you may be able to take it to a plastic bag recycler. Cardboard yard signs can be reused. Get in touch with the candidate and see if they’ll take it back. Some of these folks run year after year and could prove their sense of fiscal responsibility by reusing them. Signs that are a combination of plastic and paper are problematic for recycling but can be repurposed to make another sign or perhaps a display board for a school project or science fair exhibit. The metal stands can be taken to scrap metal recycling at Riverside. Or they can make good plant supports for beans, sweet peas, etc.
Use your imagination and try to get at least three to four more jobs done with these materials before you throw them away. Remember, there really is no “away.”