Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Green Choices Wednesday - Recycle and Reuse
Wednesday-- not only is this the day of the week for my Green Choices feature, it is also the day for weekly garbage pickup in my neighborhood. When I go for my Wednesday morning runs, I'm usually a little disappointed by sights along the roads. Many garbage cans are overflowing to the point that the lid won't close. I don't make a point of looking inside people's garbage cans, but most of the overflowing ones have lots of recyclable items that are clearly visible while just running down the road. Items like aluminum cans and plastic bottles that are so easy to recycle. I once read that there are enough aluminum cans in circulation that if every one was recycled, no cans would have to be made from bauxite ore (a heavily polluting process). Imagine that-- a closed loop system, a continuous cycle of use, recycling and reuse, instead of a linear system of manufacturing, use and landfill. Seems like systems could be designed to do that with most materials we use, and that, with encouragement, everyone would to participate and make it work. Maybe I'm naive.
One week per month, there is a pickup where residents can set out larger items. The city does a good job in some areas. I know they put yard waste like grass clippings and tree or bush trimmings in a separate part of the trucks and compost it. They also pick up waste oil left in containers by the curb and send it for recycling. Most other large items go to the landfill. The city doesn't do a good job of recyling other items, as there is no curbside collection of cans, bottles, paper, etc.
I regret seeing useable items left by the curb for pickup, like pieces of furniture and miscellaneous household items. There are good organizations in the area such as Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army. They both accept household items that are usable. They resell them in their stores, and everyone wins. The organization gains resources to help run their programs. Donators are able to get rid of unwanted items. Shoppers in their stores get good, used items at a great price. And the items get reused.
Every week, the magnitude of waste represented by the overflowing cans makes me sad. And the magnitude of thoughtlessness involved in generating such waste. After composting our kitchen and yard waste, collecting all metal, plastic, glass, paper and cardboard to take to local recycling centers, and just avoiding all possible disposable products, we often have just one small bag in the bottom of the huge garbage can that the city supplies. And I'm not bragging, because it really just isn't that hard.
Think green and live green!