Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Working Resolution! Single Stream Recycling

One thing that has bothered me, literally for years, is the amount of trash my family is contributing to society.

I learned at a young age about the importance of recycling and the need to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills, thanks to my Grandma. She lived in a remote community in Colorado and they had to sort their trash and deliver it to the recycling center/trash dept themselves. She was the queen of reusing and a police officer of recycling. Every bit of food scrap went outside to feed the wildlife that passed through her mountainous yard. Papers, tissues and napkins were used as fire starters in her fireplaces. Bread bags were used to double bag baked goods to protect them from the dry high altitude air. Rubber bands and twist ties were saved. Grocery bags were paper and reused for each trip to the grocery store (she would of loved today's trend of cloth bags.) When it is a way of life, it's easy to make it a habit.

My spouse, on the other hand, never put much thought in to his mark on landfills. When I wanted to cloth diaper our children, he was only interested in hearing the financial benefit rather than the environmental impact. When I wanted us to try to make sure to use cloth grocery bags instead of plastic sacks, he didn't mind since he rarely goes shopping. But whenever I've brought up recycling, he didn't want to think about it.

His concerns:
"Where would we keep all those bins for sorting?"
"Who's going to sort all this stuff?"
"Who's going to take it to the recycling center?" (when we lived in other cities that didn't have curbside service.)
"Who's going to make sure it gets out on the right day?"
"How do we know what can be recycled?"

And then the best bit of motivation arrived in the mail a couple months ago. A note in our trash & water bill that said, "Sign up now for a curbside Single Steam Recycling Bin to be delivered to your house Feb. 1!"

What an awesome way to get everyone recycling! How can you possibly say no to this? So, I decided to make it our New Year's Resolution- the Minner family WILL be recycling all of our trash and work towards reducing the amount of waste matter we make.

The first step was getting an indoor can for collecting recyclables. Ella has been tormenting us with an obsession for trash can diving, so we took this as a chance to replace our existing can for one with a child-deterrent lid. I purchased two new 13 gallon cans and a package of blue recycling bags. I wanted to get started immediately and the bins are not due till February. We can still do the single stream sorting, but have to put them out in the recycling bags in the meantime.

We used to keep our trash can in a space next to our stove, which made it handy while cooking, but it wasn't big enough for two cans. I found a new space to put our sorting system and the location has worked very well.

Our trash is picked up once a week and the recycling is picked up every other week. The first week we recycled was pick up week and we had two bags out. The second time, we had four bags ready to pick up. The impact it has on our trash is amazing! Prior to this, we easily filled up our trash bin with about six 13 gallon bags of trash a week. This week, our trash bin is only half full. For the time being, we are keeping the recycling bags in our garage until pick up day, then we gather them up to take to the curb. Since we rinse out containers before putting them in the recycling, there's no smell or mess to the bags.

It's actually been really fun to see all of us get interested in learning about recycling. We check the bottoms of packages to see what number plastic it is. We carefully break down boxes to put in the bin. Before the boys carry something to the trash, they ask "Mom? Can I recycle this?" Even Sean says, "here? or here?" Doug has been fully cooperating without grumbles.

I'm so happy to see another step forward for my family!


Sharon said...

That's great. I loved hearing about your grandmother's efforts for recycling/reusing - inspiring.
We have a curbside weekly recycling service provided by our city council. I have one bin in the bottom of my pantry fore recycling and a set of 4 tiered baskets in the garage to sort the items into bags ready to take out each week. It seems to work well at the moment.

Jennifer said...

Yay, I love recycling. It's addictive! Our neighbors trash cans are overflowing every week, but we take ours out just so it doesn't smell. It's rarely even half full. Good for you!

Wendy P said...

Good for y'all! We have curbside recycling and it really makes doing the right thing so much easier.

datri said...

We have lots of incentive to recycle here. Like your Grandma, we live in a rural area and have to cart our trash to the dump ourselves. AND they charge $4 a bag for garbage, PLUS $85 a year. So yeah, we try to recycle as much as possible!

JennyH said...

Good for you!

Olathe has had curbside recycling for awhile (it was a fee service). But the beginning of this month it became a whole city thing (included in price) and we now get a huge recycle cart (50 gallons I think). The downside is it is only picked up every other week now. And they don't take glass! Wal mart has a drop off for glass (a deal with the city).

We usually have 1 bag of trash a week (30 gallon bag I think) so our big trash can is usually less than half full. My recycle cart right now is already pretty much full and that won't be picked up for over another week!

It kills me going to my parents house, who do not recycle, and seeing SO much in the trash that can be recycled. also kills me driving through our neighborhood on trash day seeing everything out that can be recycled.

My hubby is not that much into recycling either. Somehow this is MY project.

Glad to hear your hubby has done well with this. A 2nd trashcan is a great idea!! Right now we just use half our sink until I carry it out to the recycle bin.

Karen said...

Good for you guys! I love that the whole family is getting involved. It'll be no time before the kids think of ways to be more environmental friendly.

Cindy said...

I just did a post about landfills- less trash is good! :)