Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Challenge #3: RECYCLE the Basics

Dumpster divers can sure make a profit in my neighborhood.

I live in a city block that has an alley behind my garage. This alley is also used by the people that live behind us. The alley has dumpsters every 3 or 4 houses. Some of the dumpsters are for “yard waste only.” The other dumpsters are for household trash.

When I take my trash out, I am often shocked to see garbage bags full of aluminum cans and a few party plates or napkins. Someone on my block is certainly not recycling even the most basic items!

Our city has at least two recycling options for its residents. One option is to pay for weekly curbside pick-up. The other is to collect recyclables and drive them over to a city park where there are 18-wheeler-sized dumpsters in which to sort mixed containers, paper, and cardboard.. This is the option that my family uses, because we take our dog so that she gets a weekend car ride and walk in a different park. We ask her “Do you wanna go for recycling?” and she runs to the car.

Obviously we already recycle, but I want to be more comprehensive and also follow the guidelines a little better. We are not great at washing things out or removing caps (although we use very few soda or water bottles).

From what I can tell, our city has a thorough recycling program. We can send all plastics except #6. We can recycle aluminum, glass and steel. They do not accept aluminum food plates or foil. We can recycle cereal boxes, cardboard, Kraft paper (like grocery bags-with the cardboard), newspaper, and junk mail. I shred all incoming mail envelopes and anything with personal info or addresses, and chuck the shredded paper into the recycling dumpster.

To me, this is just as easy as taking out the trash. We have two recycling bins on our back porch, off the kitchen. It neither stinks nor attracts ants.

I just need to find somewhere to recycle #6 plastic or stop buying foods packaged in this material. I also have to figure out what to do with egg cartons (I think one of the grocery stores accepts these). I don’t use Styrofoam.

I also want to be more organized in harder to recycle items like batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs. This will be a separate challenge!

Please, join me and challenge yourself to be a better recycler! Please, share with us in comments how you make your recycling efforts easy.

RECYCLE. Need I say more?

I am planning to challenge my alley neighbors to recycle more. I will post my “plan” in a few weeks. Until then, I will rely on the dumpster divers to pick out the recyclable metals, which they turn in at the junk yard for cash.


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