Saturday, April 07, 2007

Waste Not Want Not

My apartment building recently implemented a new recycling program. Actually, they have always had recycling here, just the bins were not labeled so I never knew where to put my cardboard, glass, tin cans and other items.

Not any more – the new system takes it all in one big bin!

I was amazed and somewhat confused when I got the memo from property management. It says they have three big new bins to toss our recyclables, and these three bins take all materials.

Growing up, I was the first generation to have recycling. I remember when the garbage truck would come, and just pick up anything tossed on the curbside. Then in the 1980’s, thanks in part to the environmental movement, they introduced the Blue Box program.

I remember getting home from school to sort everything before taking it out to the curb on Fridays. I had to separate white and colored paper, tin cans, colored and clear glass, and plastic bottles and jugs. The worst was having to bundle newspapers – that took forever, and then tying them together with twine.

I was on the environmental action committee in high school, and after school we all got together and took out the giant blue boxes for recycling. Back then, the schools only recycled pop cans and tetra packs (drink boxes). So, we’d take out these big containers on wheels, and wheel them to the curb once a week for pickup. We did that – us the students and the teachers – not the janitors. These days, that’s part of the regular routine of janitors and other maintenance staff – but back in the day when recycling was new, no one else was doing it.

Sorting was and always has been a big part of recycling. Until now – the new recycling program here at my apartment building requires no sorting of anything. Really.

I went down there today and there were three big blue bins. Each one had the same sign on it – they all took exactly the same stuff! All of the cardboard, paper, glass and plastic all goes into one of the three big bins! No sorting required.

Apparently, the sorting takes place at the processing plant where all this stuff goes. That is really cool and says we’ve come a long way since those early days of recycling.

Recycling is a good thing – for the planet and for us. By recycling old materials into new ones, we reuse these materials instead of simply throwing them out.

I’ve always tried to recycle at my building as much as I could, but it has been hard. The blue boxes were not labeled, so everything was in all of them, so I always just placed my recyclables next to the boxes, hoping they found their way.

The property management has told us specifically, in writing not to do this. And we shouldn’t have to – the new blue boxes are clearly labeled and they take everything.

Still, someone moron did just that! When I was down at the bins there were newspapers bound and tied left next to the bins. It wouldn’t have taken much effort for these morons to have untied these newspapers, and fed them into the more than accommodating bins.

I guess some people never learn – or more likely – they just don’t care.

I hope they have a security camera on these bins, so they can catch the culprits and give them a good lashing with a sharp pointy stick.

I’ve also started to replace all my light bulbs with those high efficiency low voltage energy efficient bulbs.

As a light bulb burns out, I replace it with one of the new low voltage ones.

You know what, they are brighter than the old incandescent bulbs and may actually last longer. So, I save energy and money, as I don’t have to replace them as often, all while enjoying a brighter home.

I’m liking this new environmental technology stuff. Advances in technology make it easy to be environmentally-friendly, and that is really amazing.

Though I still look back and remember fondly my days on the environmental action committee way back in high school. We did a lot of hard work, often it was dirty work too. We not only took out the blue boxes, we had to clean them up after pickup. The cunk that builds up from about 2,500 pop cans (some still with pop in them) is quite disgusting. We lovingly called it neutral-sweet-sludge.

But, we also had a lot of fun back in those days. We’d create displays and have banners and hold car washes and other fun things to promote environmentalism.

Ah, car washes – those were fun. Especially when you squirt one of the girls with the hose and her top goes see-through . . .

But that’s another story.

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