Every week, on Friday, our trash goes to the curb. Every other week it’s supposed to be accompanied by recycling. It doesn’t work that way in our household.
Whether it’s our distance from the curb or the amount of recycled newspapers we have (we subscribe to both the New Haven Register or New York Times) or maybe all the boxes we get because of online shopping, going to the curb bi-weekly doesn’t work. So all of this recyclable material piles up in the garage. A few times a year we stuff it into the SUV and I drive it to the transfer station.
Transfer station, what a lovely phrase. It’s so much more genteel than town dump.
I drove up to the transfer station this morning only to find the new policy – no newspapers. I had an SUV full of recyclables, and of course, the supermarket bags of newspapers were on top!
I unloaded the 20 or so bags of newspapers to get to the cardboard and other material underneath. At this point the transfer station folks took pity on me and found a place… a transfer station loophole if you will… that allowed me to drop the papers off. From now on it’s newspapers to the street, I suppose.
I want to be a good citizen, but it is increasingly difficult to follow the rules. In fact, it would be much easier to hide the newspapers and cardboard and bottles with our weekly trash. I’m sure a lot of people do just that. It also always strikes me as a little ironic that the two most talked about recycled products are made from sand (glass) or grow on trees (paper).
I know this is supposed to be good for the environment, and I’m for that. But, is it really? Is this just a feel good exercise with no payoff… or negative payoff?
From “Recycling Is Garbage” – New York Times Magazine, June 30, 1996:
Every time a sanitation department crew picks up a load of bottles and cans from the curb, New York City loses money. The recycling program consumes resources. It requires extra administrators and a continual public relations campaign explaining what to do with dozens of different products — recycle milk jugs but not milk cartons, index cards but not construction paper. (Most New Yorkers still don’t know the rules.) It requires enforcement agents to inspect garbage and issue tickets. Most of all, it requires extra collection crews and trucks. Collecting a ton of recyclable items is three times more expensive than collecting a ton of garbage because the crews pick up less material at each stop. For every ton of glass, plastic and metal that the truck delivers to a private recycler, the city currently spends $200 more than it would spend to bury the material in a landfill.
I don’t know what to think. I want to do what’s right, but I am really not sure. Until I know otherwise, I will follow the rules.
In the meantime, part of our recycling life at home will have to change. Newspapers to the curb. I can hardly wait for the first really big rain on a Thursday night.
Continue reading “My Trashy Story”