Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Recycle Right

Every time I take my plastics to my apartment complex's recycling bin, I am overwhelmed by the smell of garbage. I'm more disturbed by what is carelessly tossed into this bin. It smells like a garbage can because it is treated like a garbage can.

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.]


George said...

We use clear or blue bags in Brighton for recycling, and also recycle the bags themselves. We also put our "plastic grocery bags" in recycling (yes they can be recycled very easily). I found a product at the Green Expo in Port Hope. It's called Create-Some-Space bag hangers; I got several of them and they work well to hang your garbage, recyclables and organics (you put organics in a simple biodegradable liner bag; NO GREEN BIN OR CONTAINER)! I use Bio-Bag organics; and there's no smell! It's clean and easy. I hope this gives you hope that one day you too will be able to recycle anything like we do...the bag hanger makes using the bag great; it helps to keep things easy and organized for me!

George said...
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Autumn said...

Hey friend, thanks for the tips. I was not aware of many of these distinctions. Now I feel a horrible guilt about my carbon footprint! Augh!

Joyf said...

Preachin' to the choir, baby. My roommate made a divider to hang bags from so we can separate into plastics, metals, glass, and paper in the comfort of our own home.

Also, Knoxville does allow recycling of all the aforementioned items, plus plastic bags, at selected locations. Booyah, Austin!

Heather said...

they take glass at my house, you can bring it here :-)

Kiapita said...

Sorry for the late comment. I am glad to finally be a good influence on someone.

In some municipalities you *can* throw cereal boxes et all in with the newspaper. The City of Madison (Wisconsin) allows this, but it's not the only one. I'm sure San Francisco accommodates food box recycling.