I wish I could get a megaphone and walk around the complex, informing my neighbors of their recycling mistakes. They are not helping the environment by throwing "unaccepted" things into the recycling bin. The municipality will only throw them away at the center. I also wish most people would realize it's better for everyone if they rinse out their recyclables before chucking them.
But I know the megaphone would do no good (and probably get me in trouble with the leasing office). People have to motivated on their own. So, I'll do what I can by telling those who will listen. That would be you -- I hope you care.
Here are some things I know about recycling:
- Most municipalities, even progressive ones like Austin, only take certain items. Mine only takes the following: 1 and 2 plastics, newspaper, "clean" paper, and aluminum. It does not take: glass, poly-coated or any other type of cardboard, plastic bags, and 3-7 plastics.
- It is important to check the plastic type. The type number is at the bottom, inside the recycling sign. My municipality only takes 1s and 2s, so things like yogurt cups and styrofoam are not accepted.
- There are several recycling drop-offs around town that will take items the city does not take. Whole Foods takes cardboard and plastic bags, Ikea takes batteries and light bulbs, and a near-by, privately run recycling center takes glass and poly-coated cardboard.
- Poly-coated cardboard is cardboard covered in plastic. This includes almost all packaged food boxes (cereal, cookies, mac and cheese, frozen dinners, etc.) and these get thrown away all the time. Or worse yet, thrown in with the newspaper.
- Reusing is the best way to decrease your carbon footprint. It takes far less energy to reuse a piece of glass or plastic than it does to recycle it. (Although, recycling a product uses less energy than creating one does.)
So, my dear friends and readers, if you care about the earth and want to lessen your daily impact, recycle correctly. It's easy: rinse out everything, make sure it is accepted by your municipality, find alternative drop-off locations for other items, and reuse as much as possible. It's easy, I promise. Remember, I am self-proclaimed as lazy and I can do it.
[Note: If Kathryn reads this, she should have self-satisfaction knowing: 1) she is doing more than any person I know to decrease her daily impact and 2) she has made me aware of many of the issues pointed out in this post. Kathryn, I rarely will give you reason to be more smug, but this time, it's well-deserved.]