April 1: The Takoma Park City Council announced it was today initiating a new recycling service, curbside collection of the dead. The city is one of only a few progressive municipalities in the country to offer this service, and the only one on the east coast.
Remains should be wrapped in cadaver bags similar to the brown-paper yard waste bags in common use. They can be placed at the nearest curb for early morning pickup along with glass, paper, cardboard and other recyclables.
The council debated at length whether to charge an additional fee for the new service. Councilmember Dan Robinson advocated charging by weight, but Mayor Bruce Williams pointed out that this would mean additional expense to supply sanitation crews with specialized scales, as well as additional time they would have to take for weighing, handling, and data recording.
Councilmember Terry Seamens won over a majority of the council with his argument that “in these tough economic times, a death in the family is difficult and expensive enough without also having to pay a fee.” The council voted 4 to 3 to make the service free of additional charge.
“They’ve been doing this in California for years! When I moved here I was disgusted to find out we didn’t provide this service.” scoffed Councilmember Colleen Clay. “It’s about time, too! I’ve got bodies stacked up in the basement freezer I can’t wait to get rid of!”
“People have always been dying to live in Takoma Park,” said Mayor Williams, wearing a black hood and carrying a scythe for the occasion. “Now they’ll be dying to die here, too!”
“I guess I’ll have to be careful not to fall asleep in my yard!” joked Councilmember Fred Schultz. He said he was somewhat unhappy that the service, like the other sanitation/recycling service, would only be offered to homes, not apartment buildings. “Death doesn’t skip apartment houses, why should we?” he asked.
Councilmember Josh Wright held back his affirmative vote “until I am 100% assured” that there would be no noxious odors wafting through the city from the Department of Public Works, where a section of the city’s leaf composting facility will be turned over to the new program.
“This could make a great new Hallowe’en tradition” said Reuben Snipper, proposing that tours of the facility could be given annually to local school children.