Thursday, April 20, 2017

When Recycling Isn't so Easy

Recycling is a pretty big deal for me; I probably got the bug from my parents.  We didn't have curb-side recycling for most of my growing-up years but we would dutifully sort our recyclables into 5-7 categories in the garage and then my Dad would take it all to the semi trucks in the Sam's Club parking lot about once a month.  It could fill the back of the Astro van.  8 people = a decent amount of recycle.  It would have been easier to throw it all away (which was picked up at the street) but we recycled because it was the right thing to do.

Of course, it's better not to consume in the first place because recycling can still place a burden on the planet and it's resources (Don't even get me started on bottled water.  SO UNNECESSARY to most of the developed world.) but it's (almost always) better than throwing it in the trash.

What it boils down to for me is not wanting to destroy this planet that God gave us.  As far as we know, this is the only planet that can sustain human life.  We shouldn't cover it with garbage.  It is our duty not just as Christians but as humans.  (Get me on a soapbox and I could go on and on about this.)

I will fully admit to yelling at people for not recycling (generally just people I know...not strangers) but, you know what, more than one person has told me that they recycle because of my yelling.  Because I started it at my former office.  Because they hear me yelling at them every time they try to throw a beer bottle in the trash can.  Matt started recycling cans at his work (which we then get to cash in, woo-hoo!) which got a coworkers to start using her curbside bin at home.  Yelling at people (or even just nicely encouraging them) can make a difference.

We have a pretty good curbside recycling program here that takes care of most of our basic plastics, paper, cans, jars, etc.  All the standard recycle stuff.  I'd very heavily encourage you to use whatever resources are available in your area for all that basic stuff.  Ours is as easy as throwing all recycables together in one giant bin that is next to our giant trash can (you can guess which one needs put to the curb every pick-up's not the trash bin).

But then there are plenty of things that we consume that they DON'T take and this is how we recycle those things.  We could still do better and I am somewhat anxiously awaiting the day we get curbside compost pick-up (It's a thing!  I want it!)  This is by no means a comprehensive list and I encourage you to use a site like Recycle Nation or Earth 911 to look-up how to recycle odd items in your area.  We are all living on this planet, we have a obligation to take care of it, and to teach our kids to do the same.  (And please don't drink bottled water unless you are in a place where the tap water is truly unsafe to drink...reusable bottles are your friend!)

Batteries - regular and rechargable batteries can be dropped off to Batteries Plus, usually free of charge

Electronics - Best Buy takes many dead/outdated electronics, many for free.  Wipe your hard drive, monitors cost (please DO NOT throw electronics away!).  Staples also has an electronic recycling program.  Also, check locally, Matt has recycling various computer pieces and monitors at the same place we take our metal recycle. 

Ink Cartridges - Matt takes the toner cartridges from work to Office Depot and gets some reward for them but we've never redeemed them...  Also free bins at Target and other stores. 

Plastic Shopping Bags - I take ours to Wal-Mart because I've found they have the largest boxes for them (and we need large boxes) but Target, Kroger, and other stores take them too.

Scrap Metal - We take all of ours (ALL, down to beer caps and scrap nails) to a local scrap metal place.  And get money for it.  The payout usually isn't much but we can easily fill the Jeep once or twice a year with scrap metal and it's better than all of that ending up in a landfill. 

About a year ago one of my brothers-in-law told me about Terracycle which has programs you can sign-up for to recycle what I always thought of as really un-recycable things.  I couldn't get Matt to go for a Zero-Waste box (and at $367 for a box we could easily fill in a month...I kinda see why) but I have signed up for multiple different programs where I collect things and then send them in a few times a year.  I get points based on weight and those points can be redeemed as a donation to a non-profit of my choosing.

I collect for the following programs:

Baby Food Pouches (squeezies)
Oral Care Items (toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers)
Personal and Beauty Care (make-up containers, hair care bottles/tubes, more)

I can't find a way on their site to find people collecting in your area so I realize this isn't much help unless you know somebody who is or start collecting on your own (and paying to ship it to me, even if I wanted to share my address with the internet, so I can ship it for free doesn't seem like the best idea).  BUT, I'm pretty excited about not having to throw away any of the items above and keep bins in my basement to sort them all out.  I don't really care about the money I've "earned" (and it hasn't been much yet) but it is making a small impact on what goes into our trash bin.  I'm always working to get that less.

We aren't perfect but I do think it's worth going the extra step beyond what your region might easily provide.  I doubt I'll see major sustainable life on another planet in my lifetime and I don't want to leave this one filled with trash for my kid.  Please do your part.

I'd challenge you to find one thing you'd normally throw away and instead figure out how to recycle or properly dispose of it.  I have a collection of spray paint cans, empty paint buckets, and expired/no longer needed medications in the garage, all of which I need to figure out!  And I welcome any suggestions or tips on other places and things to recycle!  I truly do!

(If you want to feel inadequate, no matter how much you recycle, read Zero Waste Home.  I mean, I'm not making my eyeliner from burnt almonds

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