Monday, May 23, 2011

We produce a lot of crap

We have made a much more deliberate effort to recycle over the last few months. It has been very telling:

we produce a lot of crap

Thankfully, we have caught many, many things that can be recycled which had previously hit the landfill.

Our nearest recycling is a 30 minute drive. We have a neighbor who goes regularly and doesn't mind taking some of it in for us (repeat: a LOT of crap). Yesterday it was pretty great when he - the Recycle Guru - said, "They won't take those cups right there." And my eight-year-old said, "They do! Look at the bottom. There's the little triangle!"

It can be a pain in the rump, but it feels SO GOOD! It also breaks my heart to think of how much glass and plastic are sitting across Texas and Oklahoma because of our family. Granted, we haven't always had access to adequate programs. Many times our hands were tied. Yet, even when we had the opportunity, we didn't always use it fully.

We have kicked our own selves in the butts.

So, needless to say, I was doing cartwheels just now when I read about the "Ask for Glass" campaign (you can find them via Facebook and Twitter). It is sponsored by the Glass Packaging Institute. Consumers are demanding more glass, because it is 100% recyclable and virtually inert - nothing transfers when you heat it. People are asking and companies are listening. Heinz is reintroducing its glass ketchup bottle this summer!

It makes me very happy to think that my kids will grow up with recycling as a norm.

If you do not currently practice recycling, I challenge you to spend one week and pay attention to every single thing you're about to throw in the trash. If it can be recycled, put it in a separate container. See what you have when you're done. It will blow your mind.


Kathleen said...

We have no glass recyclers in this area. We've always been big recyclers and when we moved here a year and a half ago, we were surprised at how little we could put into the recyling bins.

happygeek said...

We were able to get our garbage for a family of 4 tohalf a bag a week. Felt awesome. Looking for ways to do more. I now make all my own condiments and reuse the plastic squeeze bottles from store bought condiments. Tis awesome.

CherubMamma said...

I miss having curbside recycling. It is a bigger hassle to drive your recycles to a center. It's so worth it though! Every week we have roughly one or two bags of garbage for our family of six. If we didn't recycle, our can would look like everyone else's in the neighborhood -- full to overflowing.

I try to reuse as much as possible. I'd like to get my recycled amount of content down in volume as well. Every little bit helps though.

Elizabeth @ My Life, Such as it is... said...

All paper recycling goes into separate bins for the elementary school Paper Retriever program. They get paid per ton which goes directly to the school. We don't have curbside recycling anymore (boo hiss) but Hubby takes all other recycling to the local center at City Hall.

I should look into composting but am so not into yardwork or gardening.

Talitha said...

TWENTY years ago, when I was a teen in Bellingham, WA, recycling was easy. Bellingham has had a recycling program (free with garbage pick-up) for-evah. They take almost everything and it's the most convenient thing in the world to put it out back with your weekly garbage. A year and a half ago, I moved to Missoula, MT, and was shocked to discover that recycling is HARD here. Some people even PAY to recycle things. It's insane. So I'm saving stuff but I'm not quite sure what to do with it yet. I'll have to figure it out soon... I'm running out of storage in the broom closet! :)

Jules said...

The SPI resin identification code does not indicate if an item is able to be recycled, nor how often the plastic was recycled. It's an arbitrary number that has no other meaning aside from identifying the specific plastic/polymer type. Recyclability is ultimately determined by the local governing ordinances concerning what materials are collected for recycling.

Blessed said...

That is so awesome that you are doing this with your kids! Reducing is the most important part of the chain, esp. for those who don't have recycling facilities nearby.

Christine, have you seen the blog "My Plastic Free Life" (formerly "fake plastic fish") and the monthly plastic tally? This might be a really fun thing for your kids to participate in. People who are choosing to take a good look at and reduce their plastic usage/waste can save it for several weeks, photographing it weekly and sending the pics to be posted on the website.

You would also enjoy the "Plastic Crap Wall of Shame"--here is the facebook page.

kristen said...

Don't forget about compost! It's the ultimate in food recycling (if you don't have chickens or a pig, that is).

marieke said...

I always do this too feel bad about doing something better because it means I was bad before. it is such a waste of emotion. We need to celebrate the growth!

I do feel like hugging My garbagepeople (we need to deliver sorted waste in different containers for garbagecollectors) and clothes and paper recyclers who just come round the house every so often. Glass is a five minute bikeride

A 30 minute drive is a long way!

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Long time lurker, first time poster...
Hi there! Someone posted one of your videos on their blog and I worked my way over here. I've been reading all your back posts for a few days and really enjoying your blog.
Anyway, from one semi-crunchy girl to another, I wanted to recommend that you add composting to your routine too. It will blow your mind how much food scraps are thrown away. Here is a post I wrote about how easy it is a few years back:

Christine said...

We compost, too, (have posted about it in the past) but I don't like to overwhelm my readers who are doing very few green things. Baby steps.

So, I always encourage new habits one at a time, when I can.

Angela :-) said...

Love recycling. Recently found out Target has a drop bin for glass, which we previously had no outlet for (to my knowledge). Now, if we could just recycle regular paper & non-corrugated cardboard locally, I might have no trash left.

Angela :-)

Val said...

for those people reading in the imiddle of the night, or who otherwise might not easily absorb technical words, what Jules' comment means is:
The little recycling triangle is NOT a symbol that something can be recycled. It is also not a symbol that something is recycled. It is a symbol of what type of plastic goop went into the item.

Every community's recycling abilities is different. Some pay for everything to get recyled, others only deal with cans & bottles. Please check what the capacity is in your area and what type of sorting equipment they have, which will tell you how big a problem sending stuff they don't want will be. (I heard that San Francisco's centre can be shut down by too many plastic bags clogging it up!)

Most times the problem is that recyclables get sent to dumps, so usually (according to my best guess) it is safer to send everything that won't break the equipment or pollute the "good stuff".

Jules said...

Yep, Val is exactly right. Sorry everyone, I should have phrased my comment differently =(

Birthblessed said...

I'm thinking we hadn't "met" or followed each other when I posted about recycling.

Sadly, I posted again another time, but I didn't look up the post. Austin does take plastics 1-7 but ships them all to China. It's unclear what happens to the plastics after that. The best thing is to do whatever you can to reduce the number of plastics you bring into your house.... salad dressings can be homemade, deodorant is replaced with baking soda, shampoo is replaced by white vinegar or can be homemade. I even stopped buying yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream for months; I'd really like to learn how to make it myself.

A benefit to Austin is that there IS a place to take styrofoam-- and it's not shipped anywhere, it's processed ON SITE in Austin into raw materials that are sold to manufacturers. At least this was true a year or two ago.

We still recycle all we can, but the real trick for me has been to reduce the amount we bring IN. I can buy 1# of pinto beans at a time making 25 plastic bags.... or 25# in a paper bag once. Same with bread- 25 plastic bread sacks? Or one 50# paper bag of flour? The paper bags are easily composted or cleanly burned, so no issue there. We now have stainless steel water bottles, so no more plastic water bottles. I even prefer to have a 3 gallon water dispenser at church and actual glasses for people to drink, which we can wash. (And don't fuss about the water used for washing- I posted about how I can wash a day's worth of dishes for my family of 9 in less than 2 gallons of water....)

Andy and Kiara said...

It really is amazing how it adds up. We just returned from a family vacation in a town where they don't do much recycling, and it's hard to find drop-offs. (We're spoiled with curb-side service at home!) With 20 of us in one large cabin, the waste adds up. Year after year, my husband and I haul 2 huge garbage cans of recyclables home, and the rest of our family thinks we're a little nuts for trying to 'save the planet'. LOL In reality, we're not trying to save the planet. We just feel strongly that God would have us be good stewards of the blessings He's given us! :)