The other day, I noted with both sadness and loss the garbage truck coming for weekly pickups was no longer our familiar Cloudburst Recycling.
The McMahons, founders and owners of Cloudburst, have decided to retire after dedicating forty-one years to the business. The successor they chose--Heiberg Garbage & Recycling--we know will provide the same exemplary collection service we've enjoyed for three decades, but the occasion also demands a look at what Cloudburst accomplished.
In the early 80s. when we moved into our present house, we had to choose who would collect our garbage. We had choices: In 1980, 140+ companies served the Portlaad Metro area.
I asked a friend I'd known from college, one who grew up in Portland, who'd he'd suggest. He said in Northeast Portland it was Cloudburst Recycling. He had Sunflower Recycling in Southeast Portland and said the two were the most progressive companies going.
From the very beginning, Cloudburst made it clear they offered curbside recycling--a great free extra other garbage companies didn't offer. I'd put out my gallon of used motor oil and the driver I'd see now and then seemed joyful to recycle that, besides flattened cardboard boxes, glass containers, tin cans, tree limbs cut to 36" lengths, and whatever else was on the Cloudburst list of recyclables.
The point is, this was curbside--you didn't have to haul stuff in the car to a recycling depot. This was the early 1980s.
And it is more important to state a 25-year-old David McMahon started such curbside recycling with Cloudburst in 1975 [as did his compadre at Sunflower]. Their curbside service was among the very first in the nation.
Now, across a country where recycling is the accepted alternative to landfills, colored plastic roller carts are found on city streets, out on collection day, everywhere.
That, for me, is the legacy of the Cloudburst Recycling trucks leaving Portland streets.
Four years ago, I wrote here how in 1992, the City stepped in and assigned garbage collection routes. Curbside recycling became a mandatory extra for everyone.
But I also think Portland was fortunate to have that crazy, laissez-faire free-for-all garbage collection by so many companies for so long. In what municipality across the country would a government agency, a Department of Sanitation, pull off something that in the 70s seemed quirky--curbside recycling--and yet proved in time, visionary. Au revoir, Cloudburst. We and future generations thank you!
Image credit: google images: redirectguide.com
Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.
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