Inching Along Towards Green


Confusion slows me down
January 8, 2009, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Recycling

I have been recycling for quite a while.  In our area this is made more convenient by a company supplied “wheelie” which is used for single-stream recycling and collected curbside every other week.  However, the rules are extensive and confusing to the new recycler, which discourages participation or as I have been guilty of, the “what the heck, toss it in and let them sort it out” attitude. Which mindset is better?

Just this week, I received my yearly updated recycling calendar and list of acceptable items.  A quick review of the list shows that items that I thought were ok, are not.  How much of this is due to the recent downturn in the market for recyclables, I don’t know, but as someone who wants to participate, it is irritating.

For instance, nowhere on this little sheet does it tell me which recycling numbers are acceptable.  I was previously under the impression that 1-5 and 7 were ok.  The sheet informs me that my cottage cheese pot is ok (a number 5) but the lid is not (number 2).  Well, I had been tossing in my lid thinking it was ok, but now feel guilty that I was “doing it wrong”.

Furthermore, why are aluminum cans ok, but not aluminum foil pans or scrunched up foil if I wash it before disposal?  No plastic cups, but my Starbucks’ iced drink cup is a number 5, the same as my cottage cheese pot and roughly the same shape, so why not?

And what about lids in general?  Are all lids destined for the land fill?  Or must I fill up my garage with bits and pieces of plastic until I get enough to make a trip to the local transfer station reasonable?  That’s a lot of lids to collect. 

Here’s one for you.  Last night, my daughter and I went to the community college to buy her books for school.  I neglected to take one of my reusable shopping bags with me because we were in a hurry to get in out of the pouring rain.  Very bad of me, I know. We got a plastic bag to carry our 20 pound book purchase home in.  The bag nicely stated that it was made with all recycled materials and printed with vegetable based inks.  Good so far.  However, what I have learned about plastic bags is that if they are “stretchy”, they can be recycled.  If they are “crinkly” or  “stiff”, they cannot.  I imagine you can see where I’m headed.  I now possess the dreaded non-recyclable bag.  Argh! And I wondered, how many cycles did this plastic go through before it became my bag? 

So, on my “to do” list, I have added “research exactly how many lives plastic can have”.  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Let me go on record as saying that I do not necessarily recycle because I am a Green Earth Warrior Princess.  I am more concerned about doing things in a cost effective way that do not muck up my personal environment.  The more trash I produce, the more trips to the garbage can or transfer station, the more it costs me in dollars and time at work to earn those dollars.  I would rather be putting that money away for early retirement than paying for trash.  Also, a thriving compost heap or worm bin means I have less smelly wet trash and soil improvement materials that cost me nothing.   Baking my own muffins gives a better tasting product for cheaper and does not leave me with a plastic clam shell with no recycling number on it (that I can discern), which is tossed into the trash.  Each of these things has multiple benefits, which is what needs to be shared with others to encourage them in their recycling efforts.

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2 Comments so far
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Can you call your recycling vendor and ask about the drink cups? I would think you might be able to slip them in.

As for clamshells, I did quite a bit of research on that this year, and they are pretty much not recyclable. 😦

Comment by cheaplikeme

Thanks for checking out my blog, Cheaplikeme! I will call my vendor. My last contact with them was to try to get another wheelie, but they limit each household to one. They were willing to send stickers to put on my spare trash can, but I haven’t seen them yet. 😦

Bummer about the clamshells, isn’t it? I made a batch of muffins last night, avoiding a bakery clamshell for this week, but who knows what the spouse and kids will buy if I’m not with them.

Comment by inchingalong




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