Thursday, September 9, 2010

Recycling Paper

Our curbside recycling takes only newspaper (plus bottles and cans), but fortunately, I can take regular and shiny paper to a center in town.  I have a box downstairs and one upstairs to collect that paper.  Under the downstairs box, I also slide flattened thin cardboard boxes such as the ones butter, pasta, and cereal come in.  In the basement I collect corrugated cardboard and styrofoam. 

About once a month, I collect all the paper and cardboard and take it down to the center. I want to emulate my friends that loaded their wagon and walked their recyclables down, but I'm not there yet.

Instead of recycling sensitive personal papers, we collect them separately and then shred those about oh, once or twice a year; I then mix the shreds into the compost pile, supplying much-needed carbon to all the nitrogen of the kitchen scraps.  Genevieve is now old enough to do this job largely without supervision.

Pictured below is our newly turned compost pile, one of the ways my husband and I celebrated our anniversary (our anniversary fell on a Saturday, ok? We also went out to a great Thai restaurant, without the children, lest you worry.)

My brother recently told me that their economically depressed little town does not have recycling facilities and barely curbside recycling.  I was surprised and then embarrassed to realize that not everyone does have such great opportunities to recycle; my brother thinks people in our city must have known the right strings to pull or grants to apply for. 

My little vein of cynicism just can't believe that all the stuff I'm collecting and dropping off is actually being recycled. . . but my hopeful side usually wins out and I keep collecting and dropping off, collecting and dropping off.  I wake up too early sometimes and fret over the future of the earth. I want to be able to look my children and grandchildren in the eye and say yes, I did my best to help. 


Shasta said...

Luv that picture of Ben!

Laura said...

Our tiny rural town doesn't have a recycling company, or any kind of organized recycling program, but because it is a tiny town and most of the residents are not wealthy, we have an informal recycling program - curbside. Whatever anyone puts out at the curb gets picked through and usually taken off by someone else who will use it. We put out any household items or scrap metal or yard waste (if we don't plan to use it as mulch or compost) and other residents come by and take stuff away. One man always looks for scrap metal, which he then sells. I put our raked leaves and pine straw into paper grocery bags and people come get them to use in their yards and gardens. I pass our newspapers and magazines on to my parents (who then use the papers in the garden) and to the library to be read by other patrons. It's kind of nice to know that we're working together to use things to the utmost of their usefulness. Kind of like Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree, if you're familiar with that children's book!

Anonymous said...

I have that same cynical voice in my head, but like you, I'm still recycling. I like your idea of composting the shredded stuff, especially since I have a bag of it on my back porch right this very moment.

BrotherDearest said...

slightly off topic, but that is the best pic of Ben. Ever.

Unknown said...

We keep our recycling bins at the bottom of the basement stairs - every one has fun trying to throw the plastic and cans and cardboard into the right bins...mostly it just lands everywhere, and then I sort it out when I go down to get something else, but it's still fun : )

Anonymous said...

I join you (and PunkRizz!) in having serious doubts. Esp. because my city, Charlotte, NC, doesn't even require us to sort stuff. Are you telling me sanitation guys are sorting our beer bottles and newspaper? So, I'm a former investigative reporter turned SAHM. And I feel like following them one day and spying on them to see what really happens. It wouldn't be illegal to do so. Thoughts? I'm serious.

Beth said...

You've got a good system going there with the paper and recycling!

And happy anniversary - somehow I missed that post. But I realized y'all got married one week before us in the same year!

BrotherDearest said...

@littlehousesouthernprairie: I would be very careful with how you choose to spy on a sanitation operation. Two reasons:
1. Medium and large scale sanitation operations use very large equipment, and lots of it, as well as operate that large equipment often in poor visibility conditions, amongst an ever-changing landscape of refuse (it really is quite amazing to see, for many reasons, but stick to a Mike Rowe-hosted view of it). You could get squished. Quickly.
2. Second, and probably much more significant, is that generally, sanitiation related companies are pretty private types, and really don't like being spied on. There are already many many misconceptions out there about waste, how it is handled, and what the implications are. There are many whackjob type folks who sanitation companies have to protect themselves and thier employees from, while going about thier perfectly normal and expected business, so they take a very dim view of the average joe imposing himself, uninvited, into thier operations.

I don't say this to protect THEM, I say this to warn and hopefully protect YOU. I am a (non-rabid) fan of conservation and recycling, but I am also a fan of not showing up on the evening news, for any reason.

Margo said...

Laura, that is so heartwarming. Truly the spirit of recycling!

Littlehouse, I seriously do think you should try to find out what happens to the recycling. I have some experience in this and contrary to my brother, I wasn't really around the dangerous trucks at all. (Sorry, bro, I know your advice is well meant - but read my following story).
Before I was a SAHM, I was up early to go to work and my cynicism led me to look out the window sometimes when the guys were taking the trash. And it burned me up to see them dumping the recyclables with the trash. And then it occurred to me that I had a voice and I was on the right side of the law. Once they told me they would sort it out down the street. Yeah right. So I called the city sanitation department and they did were all over it - including fining the hauler, which I'm sure was more effective than the legal warnings.

Around this time, there was an 11 year old boy in a neighboring town that starting following a trash truck with his camera and spread the word that recyclables were being trashed - I still have the article that was published in the paper.

After that, things began to change. I do sometimes still wonder if recyclables are going to the right place. And one time I got out of my car, shaking with fury and nerves, and hollered at some guys dumping the recyclables into the trash - they stammered out some excuse and I reported their butts to the city, which thanked me. So yes, I'm egging you on with the investigative reporting. And I can't wait to hear what develops!

jenny_o said...

Margo, I just clicked on this older post that showed up beneath today's post, and I had to comment. Good for you for reporting the workers who weren't doing their job right! Nothing changes if nobody says anything. Applause!