Why are there so few trash cans along the Animas River Trail, particularly the stretch from 32nd Street down to Rotary Park? It seems to me that downtown has an overabundance of trash cans. Would the city move some of the downtown receptacles to the river trail? – Trail R. Trash
Action Line recalls answering this Vital Question three years ago.
Ah, yes … 2014.
The Seahawks thrashed the Broncos 42-8 in the Super Bowl.
Then that spastic pop star Psy’s “Gangnam Style” became the world’s most-popular YouTube video.
And it was also the year when Donald Trump started seriously organizing a presidential campaign.
No wonder why everyone blocks out 2014.
Anyway, to refresh your memory, back in 2014, loyal reader and our good friend Jon wondered if Durango’s trash cans “migrate” to Rio Grande Land for the winter – because that’s where they always seem to end up.
Has anything changed in the ensuing three years?
To find out, Action Line repeated the Greater Downtown Garbage Can Census, an exhaustive exercise of investigative journalism rooted in the scientific method.
It involved a 10-minute walk up and down Main Avenue with a piece of scrap paper and bank pen, counting the waste receptacles.
Today, in the three-block section of Main Avenue from Eighth Street to the train depot, a trash-can enumerator will encounter 23 garbage cans and 10 recycle bins.
In the mile-plus length of the Animas River Trail, a local perambulator will find a mere two trash cans and two dumpsters between Rotary Park and 32nd Street.
With 33 waste repositories downtown versus four along the trail, Durango has an extraordinarily high CRAP Ratio of 8.25 to 1.
CRAP stands for Containers, Receptacles and Pails – thus, there are more than eight trash cans, recycling receptacles and/or garbage pails downtown for every one of the same along the trail.
This proves that you have to deal with a lot of CRAP when you live in Durango. But everyone already knows this.
So that brings us to the question about redeploying waste containers.
We called our good friend Scott McClain, the city’s parks manager.
“Hey Scott! Can we cannibalize some cans?”
Scott answered candidly: “There are no plans at this time.”
Downtown and the Animas River Trail are vastly different in their respective trash profiles, he pointed out.
The historic district has food, beverage and retail – so there are plentiful wrappers, napkins, bags, receipts and such.
The river trail, on the other hand, generates minimal waste other than green bags of dog poop.
Everyone’s familiar with Action Line’s utter contempt for those who leave the green bags neatly tied up along the trail. Scott was more diplomatic.
“We hope people will carry their waste five minutes to a receptacle,” Scott said. “But we also know that 10 feet can be too far for some.”
The other sad part about non-downtown trash cans? Locals use them for household garbage and fill them daily.
“That was the case on the east side of the Demon Bridge. We couldn’t keep up with all the trash,” Scott said, explaining why a can went away.
So it looks like the Rio Grande Land’s “migratory” cans have naturalized in prime tourist habitat and won’t be traveling north to recolonize the Animas River Trail.
Therefore, be dutiful about dog duty. In the absence of cans, we must have a can-do attitude and practice doo-doo diligence whenever we can.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you wonder why trash cans are called “cans” when most are now made with plastic.