Recycling

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d write something about recycling.

I live in Olathe, KS.  My city has a curbside recycling program that works really well for us.  We’ve actually found that we recycled so much of our trash that we had to have the city give us a bigger bin.

The bin they supply is a big, square trash can on wheels.  It is the type designed to be picked up by the arm on the automated trash trucks.  They pick up the recycling every other week on our normal trash day.  It’s great because we treat it just like a trash bin except that only recyclables go in it.  We don’t have to sort anything and they accept most types of plastics, aluminum and tin cans, and paper products.

We do find ourselves with recyclables that aren’t accepted at curbside.  Glass, for one, has to be dropped off at local collection points.  Plastic grocery sacks have to be recycled at the grocery store.  Fortunately, it’s not too inconvenient to do this since I run errands at least once a week and can easily incorporate this into my schedule while I’m out.

The city also collects yard waste separately from trash.  They chop the branches into mulch and compost the rest.  They use the mulch and compost in the city parks and it’s free to any citizen that wants to come pick some up.

They also have an electronics and battery recycling program.  For a fee, you can drop off electronics, televisions, car batteries, etc. and they’ll be processed and recycled.

Then there’s the hazardous waste program, which isn’t really a recycling program exactly.  They offer unused paint and chemicals for free to any citizen who wants them and will properly dispose of anything else.

The only problem I see with recycling is that now I fee guilty when I can’t recycle waste that’s made of recyclable materials.  For example, anytime I’m out to lunch and have a plastic drink bottle, fork, or plate that needs to be thrown away after the meal, I find myself annoyed at the restaurant that they don’t have a recycling bin available.  Also, anytime I have to throw away a broken plastic toy, storage bin, metal rod, or a small appliance I feel guilty because I didn’t recycle it.  But our city just doesn’t have programs to recycle every single type of recyclable our household produces.  So, I’m still stuck throwing things that are technically recyclable in the garbage.

I bet in a hundred or two hundred years people will be mining today’s landfills for recyclable and reusable materials.  So, when I do throw away recyclables, I suppose I’m contributing to a resource future generations will be able to tap into.

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