Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day Seven - Getting An Education


You know, up until now I actually considered myself a relatively educated recycler. I always rinsed my bottles and cans out, separated my paper from the other stuff, and always broke down my corrugated boxes. What I didn't do was actually check my county's website to see what is recyclable. I know it seems like a big step to skip, but hey, I'm from New York, I've been recycling for years now, I thought I knew the gig. Huh. Dummy.

Did you know that the items that can be recycled vary from state to state, depending on legislation and (more importantly) whether or not there is a market for the items? For instance, in New York, it was ok to recycle the pizza boxes your P'zone came in, but not in Virginia. Also, some states allow different types of plastics to be recycled. The good news is, most municipalities have websites that lay all this information out for you. Here's what I learned (that I didn't already know) about MY county's program:

  • I can recycle #1 and #2 plastics (look on the bottom of the container for the recycle symbol, you'll see a number inside that tells you what type of plastic it is), but NOT #3 - #7. I did not know this. I was trying to recycle a lot of plastic in there that I shouldn't have and was actually tossing out items that were recyclable.

  • I can recycle cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, 12-pack boxes, etc. Never knew that. I always thought it was just currogated cardboard. Hmm, I guess I should check the rules every ten years or so, to see if things have changed.

  • I could toss everything into one big bin, I don't have to separate it all. Of course, the anal OCD psycho in me actually LIKES to separate everything, so I don't think I'll change this.

The funny thing is, I thought I was doing everything right. So before your next collection day rolls around, do a quick google search for your county's (or city's or parish's) recycle or waste management site. You might be surprised at what you learn.


I'm going to estimate that my new knowlege will easily DOUBLE the amount of items I recycle. That should cut my garbage load by about 1/3. Not bad considering our family averages one large kitchen (13 gallon) trash bag per day. That lessens our trash load by 121 big bags per year! Wow. What an impact!!


Easy as sitting on my butt reading a webpage. The follow through won't be hard either, once I rearrange my trash/recycle cupboard to accomodate that shift from garbage to recycling. As I said, I've always been an avid recycler, I was just doing it wrong. Now that I know the right way to do it, I don't think keeping it up will be an issue. Now if I can just remember to check the site again in a few years to make sure nothing new happened....

1 comment:

leslie said...

Our city finally started taking phone books to recycle. Yea!
This post is one that could even call people to local political action. Call a councilman and ask if they can "create a market" for more plastics than just #1 and #2.
Ooop. Just had to add that to my to do list...