Sunday, June 30, 2019

Finally, curbside recycling!

I found this finished 2018 post in my drafts and decided to go ahead and post it,hopefully it will inspire me to post more! Although recycling has gotten even more complicated these days due to falling demand for materials.

photo: Igor Mazic, flickr
It's 9F and I'm excitedly bundling up to take out the recycling. Why such excitement for a routine chore? Because this is the first time in almost 14 years that I've been able to take recycling to the end of the driveway for pickup instead of having to haul it away

I've been a devoted recycler ever since a college boyfriend inspired me to begin. My little hometown with a population of 35,000 had curbside recycling service way back in 2003, but when I moved to the "big city" of Columbus I had to kiss that service goodbye. That didn't stop me from recycling though. I dutifully saved my recyclables in the basement and then hauled them out once a month or so to pack up the Civic and take them to a drop-off location.

At some point curbside service was offered to city residents, first for a monthly charge and then the free in 2012, but by then I had already purchased the house. While my neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Columbus, we're part of a township. The township has its own trash services, sans recycling. So I continued schlepp the recycling to a drop-off location a few miles away or the boyfriend would take it to the recycling location at work. But it was a pain and something we always put off as long as possible.

Then a few years ago a resolution to add recycling to the township's waste services for less than $10 per year per household was up for a vote. Hooray! For less than $10 per year to each household's trash costs, but to me that was well worth it. Apparently I was soundly in the minority because the measure was soundly defeated, twice.

Then a few months ago, finally good news: our trash contract was being renegotiated to include recycling at no additional cost.  I called the day I received that letter to request a bin and have been counting down to January. Last Saturday I realized said bin had never arrived and I disappointedly figured I'd have to wait a bit longer, and then, what did I see on top of the three inches of snow at the end of the driveway Saturday afternoon but a lovely green recycling bin.

The only bummer is that when I went to collect my bin I looked around and didn't see another one on the street. And today when I deposited my overflowing bin back at the end of the driveway, it was still the only one in sight. Hopefully that will change tomorrow on pickup day or in the weeks to come.

But the apathy of my neighbors in this working-class neighborhood has got me thinking. If people won't recycle even when all you have to take a bin to the curb, what chances are there that people will make the real changes necessary to avoid environmental disaster?

I can't help thinking back to my time in Denmark in 2000, where it was common place to separate compostable trash from the rest of the rubbish for weekly pick up. Glass and plastic bottles were returned for deposits. Aluminum cans weren't sold there, although you could buy them in neighboring Sweden. Everyone seemed to gladly return, separate and recycle. What would inspire more Americans to do the same?

I know recycling isn't a panacea, but in the meantime it seems much better to recycle what we can instead of filling up the landfills.

Is recycling popular in your area? Do you recycle? Why or why not?


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