Friday, May 22, 2009

Everyone Will Do it if it is Easy

When we lived in Los Angeles, I remember how easy it was to recycle. Maybe because California is such a liberal, tree-hugging state. Or maybe the rolling blackouts and water conservation issues forever remind you that resources are limited. But one thing is for sure, recycling came easy there.

How is it so different there than here? Well, for one thing, pretty much everything could be recycled... and in the same bin. Cans, bottles, boxes, newspapers and any plastic that had that recycling triangle, no matter what the number. They were all placed together in a recycling bin that was a tad bit larger than our garbage can and picked up weekly along with our garbage. We didn't have to prep anything or sort it. Ooh, so easy. I literally had a garbage can for regular stuff and a paper bag for recyclables.  As it got full, I just dumped it in the recycle bin.

Here? Glass, cans and plastics with a "1" or "2" only. And newspapers, cardboard, magazines are separated. Granted, the recycle bin is the same size as the garbage can, but it's divided in two. We can't throw the newspapers into that half until the night before pickup because the weight is just too heavy for the divider.  What makes it worse is that it is only picked up once a month. 

It's all petty, I know, but having been exposed to the easy way of doing it just makes me want to throw up my arms and say "Why bother." However, by not participating, it's only hurting future generations and I'm not willing to let my frustrations keep me from doing the right thing.

But it was over the top this morning when our regular garbage bin was not emptied. You see, we're doing some yard cleanup and removed a bush that was unruly. The city has a yard waste recycling program but not only does it require that you purchase special bags to put everything in, but you also need to purchase a sticker for each bag that you put on the curb. Well, the bag says to only include certain things and the sticker says only certain things. Nowhere did it say an entire bush was okay so we threw it in the garbage. It isn't like we were trying to avoid paying the ticket fees because right next to the garbage can was a yard waste bag, with proper fees adhered, that wasn't even full.

So why does it get me all in an uproar? Because in Los Angeles it was so much easier. We actually had a third full-sized bin strictly for yard waste. All yard waste. In the same giant bin. You know how easy that made it when we had to prune the trees? To top it off, there weren't additional yard waste fees - it was all included in our monthly garbage pickup. I guess they realized that making it easy and economical translated to more people doing it. I recall that the last city we lived in had one of the highest participating percentages in the country. No wonder.  You could recycle almost everything and it was just a matter of putting it in the right color-coded bin.

So to wrap up this long, grumbly story... As soon as I noticed that our garbage wasn't picked up, I went out and removed the bush from the can.  I chopped it up enough to put into one of those bags then put my paid fee tag on it. I called the city and the man from public works that I talked to was kind enough to have the drivers swing back by to empty the garbage. But honestly, the whole thing really ruined my morning. Here I thought I was doing the right thing and it just bit me.

Recycling can be so easy if the cities would just do things a little differently. That is definitely one thing I miss about California.


  • Tara

    Wow, I never realized how difficult it could be. I guess I am lucky, it's easy here too. I hope your day gets better and you can smile knowing your doing your part to preserve this place for your kids : )

  • Unknown

    I hear you. I live in an apartment where IF I want to recycle, I have to shlep it to the town dump myself. All sorted n all that good stuiff. BLARG!