I have to get up on my soapbox a bit. I was just thinking about this as I was making dinner tonight, a rather simple dish of Ravioli Lasagna.
It involves a jar of pasta sauce, but I added a can of tomato sauce as well as a can of mushroom pieces. Sitting next to the sink was a jar of salsa mixed with ranch dressing that we’d had last night when our company came over. It was filled with water and waiting to be cleaned out to go into the recycling bin.
As I cleaned out that jar, as well as the two cans and the large jar of pasta sauce, I started thinking about recycling.
I am a pretty fervent recycler. In Washington state, we were lucky enough to have a curbside recycling program. In one bin, we threw newspapers. Another bin held all other kinds of paper, including cereal boxes and the like. The third bin contained glass, plastic (types 1 through 5), and tin cans. Recycling was picked up every other week, and by that time, at least one of those bins was overflowing.
Here in Rhode Island, we also have a curbside recycling program. I have stuck with my system of one bin for newspapers, one for mixed paper, and one for containers. It works best that way; everything fits neatly into its own bin. So again we set out three bins for recycling, sometimes four if Kurt’s gotten hard-core into cleaning the garage, or we’ve had a party with a lot of beer bottles. Here, though, it’s picked up every week, which is so exciting for me since I never have to spaz out that I’m running out of room in my mixed paper bin, and it’s only the beginning of the second week.
But you know, it’s like we’re the only ones in the entire development that cares about recycling. Some families try; you see their bins out every week. But there’s only one type of item in the bin — it’s only boxes, or it’s only beer bottles (Navy people apparently love to drink, and they do a lot of it). Few people put out more than one bin, and I can guarantee we’re the only ones who set out three bins.
I can understand not recycling if there is no curbside service. When we lived in Virginia, we had an apartment with a huge dumpster in the corner of the parking lot. It was hard enough carting a bag full of garbage from our second floor apartment all the way across the parking lot every other day without trying to figure out how to sort the recyclables and find a recycling station. I’m sympathetic to the folks who don’t have the ease of recycling that I do.
But I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the people who don’t recycle when the program is right there in place. Why are you throwing all of that away?? There are those that say that it doesn’t matter whether you recycle; the recycling trucks just take all the stuff to the landfill anyhow. I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. It would make no sense for the city and the Navy (we’re not part of our city’s trash collection program) to send out two trucks to gather waste if it’s all going to the same place. Folks say it’s too much work to recycle. How so? I have friends whose bins are right there in the kitchen near the trash can. Our bins are in the garage, but just inside the door to the house so that I can simply open the door and toss whatever it is into the proper bin. Sometimes I will set things aside to gather them together instead of making ten trips to the garage, but if I can’t walk the ten feet to the garage, then I must be awfully lazy.
Driving around the neighborhood on a Wednesday, the day that our trash is collected, just usually makes me mad. We used to have the smaller 48-gallon bins given to us, and there were some families that would have two or even three (!!!) large bins stuffed full of garbage set out on the curb. Now we’ve been given the large 96-gallon bins, and some families have stolen extras from the empty units and set out two overflowing bins every week. How do you even generate that much trash in one week? I’ll tell you one reason their bins are so full — they’re not recycling. At all.
Kurt, Grace, and I tend to fill one to two kitchen bags full of garbage per week. That’s because I recycle everything. When I go on a shopping spree to buy Grace new clothes, I will sit there on the couch and make two piles — one pile of the paper price tags, the other pile for stickers and those little plastic things that hold the tags onto the article of clothing. Yes, I recycle price tags. If I’m out in town and I get a bottle of water or soda, I will bring that bottle home most of the time so I can recycle it. I recycle the cups I get from Dunkin Donuts when I get an iced coffee or a Coolatta. I recycle the tissue paper inside gifts. I break shipping boxes down and recycle them.
I recycle everything.
I don’t expect everyone to be as crazy as I am about recycling. But the folks in my neighborhood don’t even try! It’s so incredibly frustrating. I almost want to go through their trash every Wednesday and show them how many recyclables they’re throwing away.
You know, there’s a commercial playing on the tv right now that I am absolutely in love with. They’re actually a series of commercials by Brita water filters. One shows a woman working out on the treadmill, and text comes across the bottom of the screen that reads, “30 minutes on the treadmill.” Then the camera pans to the bottle of water on the treadmill and the text reads, “Forever in a landfill.” The next shot shows a Brita pitcher filling up a reusable water bottle. And you know, that is a very small change we could all make — using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottles and bottles of water.
Oh, you don’t like the taste of your tap water? Most bottled water is simply filtered tap water. Check out your Dasani and your Aquafina water bottle and read the label. Chances are it’ll say that it’s simply filtered tap water from some municipal supply. I was utterly spoiled in Washington state. Our home was supplied by a community well whose water tasted amazing. I didn’t have to worry about filtering the water, though we did simply because our fridge had a built-in filter. Coming here, the very first time I tasted our tap water I wanted to throw up. It was like drinking water siphoned from a swimming pool. Nasty.
The friends we had over last night combat the nasty chlorinated water by using a large Brita filter that stays in their fridge all the time. I personally am too lazy to refill filter pitchers all the time, especially with the quantity of water my husband drinks per day. He drinks at least a gallon a day. Plus I wanted a way to make our ice (we don’t have an automatic ice maker anymore — wahhhh) with filtered water. What’s the point of filtering your drinking water if your ice cubes taste nasty? We bought an under-the-sink filter at Home Depot. It was something like $40 or $50 initially, but the filters only have to be replaced every six months, and they’re not very expensive at all. And now everything I make with cold water, from setting a pan of water to boil for pasta or potatoes to a new pitcher full of Crystal Light to our ice cubes, is made with filtered water with the chlorine removed.
I will guarantee we spend less on our water, even with the inital lay-out for the filter, than if we bought bottled water. Plus we aren’t putting more empty plastic bottles in the landfill.
Maybe this isn’t important to most of the world, but it is to me. And I will continue to live this way until I’m no longer breathing. It’s that important to me.