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Prison labor to sort our trash!

Trash can be recycled but the problem is that it's not neatly sorted. It would be labor intensive and rather nasty to have to sort our trash. Everybody wants to do something positive for our environment but doesn't necessarily want to lift a finger. So why not prison labor?

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    May 6 2013: Why not try to generate less trash?
    • May 6 2013: I feel like you could ask a similar question for any environmental concern. Wny not drive less? Why not buy less stuff? Why not eat less meat? I feel like that kind of cultural change could take a long time to manifest.
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        May 7 2013: Absolutely - why not integrate these elements in your original proposal? Cultural changes can sometimes occur very swiftly. - The original statement "Prison labor to sort our trash!" is rather primitive based on the assumption that prisoners deserve punishment ... perhaps you should limit your proposal to those prisoners guilty of environmental offences. Perhaps those people responsible for major oil spills or for killing thousands in Bhopal should be condemned to trash sorting.
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    May 7 2013: Hi Brian,
    I was a little surprised to read your comment, which states that it is a problem to neatly sort recycled materials. I live in a rural community in a very rural state, and our recycling center has equipment that easily seperates various recycled materials. We simply put everything in a recycle bin all mixed together, and it is seperated on conveyer belts, with equipment made for that purpose. It is not that labor intensive at all. For this reason, it feels like we would be taking steps backwards to ask anyone to seperate recycled materials. I realize that perhaps all localities may not have this equipment, but I think it is pretty common now in most places.

    This is just one supplier of many:

    If we are going to encourage offenders who are incarcerated to be more active in pursuing tasks, I would prefer to see them learning skills that would help them make a living (other than crime) when they are released.
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        May 7 2013: I doubt that there is a uniform disposal/collection method in Australia. Only South Australia levies deposit on bottles. Even Brisbane had two different collection methods for "recyclables".
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      May 7 2013: Have you ever visited such a sorting plant? Have you ever exposed yourself to the stench. It only sounds good. One bin for all. Glass once mixed with ceramics becomes useless. Even glass is not just glass. Flat glass should not be mixed with glass containers. The recycling industry is a smokescreen that should make people feel good. The idea of using "cheap" prison labour to perform the task of sorting is indeed a primitive one.
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        May 7 2013: No, I haven't visited such a sorting plant Michael....I only talked with people who had visited one.

        We used to sort our own recycleables before they were picked up, then they changed the rules to say that we could simply throw everything in the bin together. I was skeptical about this.....thinking that the trash collectors were probably throwing EVERTHING in the trash. So I did a little research, but didn't actually visit the site.

        I like your idea BEST Michael....generate less trash! And personally, I do that:>)
    • May 7 2013: Colleen, I was not aware that trash sorting had gone automated. Thank you for the insight.
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    May 20 2013: Back in my day all the prisoners made was license plates for automobiles.
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    May 8 2013: Why not?

    it would be a fine thing to provide the inmates with access to unknown quantities of any number of possible resource

    . The lives and safety of the inmates and the guards not being of any concern to us,

    and there being no moral ambiguity about prison labor and slave labor.

    Perhaps people could work off taxes instead? or we could down grade crimes like drug offenses to something requiring only community service,

    of course why stop there?

    lets put the people on welfare to work in the dumpsters,

    and the mentally ill

    and the school children as well as the elderly

    they are all portions of society that are dependent on support by the society as a whole

    , at the very least lets have the mentally handicapped

    and the chronic debtors doing it.

    Maybe this idea would accomplish the same thing but in a better more free market system: sell claims in old land fills and create the industry to reclaim the materials recovered without further harm to the environment. Federal processing plants to shred the plastic and heavy metals from each other while preventing poisonous contamination. Good steady federal jobs in the plants recycled materials available to the private industry, and grassroots environmental cleaning. You can't beat self interest as motivation for people to do something.
  • May 6 2013: Seems to me your idea would be pretty good for both sides. Trash sort trash :)

    For any criminal or anyone being 'punished' it would be best to have something to do, to be useful in some way.
    I think the best lesson for anyone is to be given the experience of being appreciated for what they do.

    Especially since now the prison environment might be a better and more comfortable situation than the person's home environment. Cheaper too, so that is not the way to learn.
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      May 7 2013: Cheaper for whom? It costs the tax payer $60,000 - $80,000 per person, per year to keep someone incarcerated.
      • May 7 2013: The more reason to get them to do something
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          May 7 2013: Oh, I wholeheartedly support them doing something Adriaan. I do not put them in the same catagory as you you say....."Trash sort trash :)"

          I do not perceive those incarcerated as "trash". I perceive them as human beings who need some guidence, and I believe if they learn skills that are useful to them on the outside, some of them may change their ways.
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        May 7 2013: Unfortunately prisons are run by white-collar bandits who are worse than many inmates.
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          May 7 2013: That is so true Michael! I volunteered with the dept. of corrections for 6 years, co-facilitating "cognitive self change" sessions and other programs in the facilities and with P&P. I had more difficulty with administrators than with the incarcerated guys.

          Unfortunately, with the privatization of many facilities, I believe the challenge with creating and administering effective rehab programs is becoming worse. A big money making business has no motivation to decrease the population they serve.
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    May 6 2013: This isn't a bad idea. It can help the environment and generate electricity or other products.
    BUT! I also agree with Michael Froemmcke.
    I think the issue isn't about the labor in the trash recycling factories. The root of the problem is the lack of environmental education. I consider that people need a better education about the impact of our trash. I would propose to teach people how to re/up-cycle their trash. A good education about this topic would help more rather than just having prison labor to sort the trash.