If you recycle and try to make less waste, you can now easily end up with more in the recycling bin and yard waste bags than what finds its way into your trash can.
Considering that curbside recycling didn’t even exist in most communities a quarter century ago, this is an amazing development. With the inclusion of corrugated cardboard and paperboard in our curbside collections, we can now recycle all our paper-based packaging, every scrap of printed paper and all our bottles and cans. Since it is illegal to burn recyclables in mandated recycling communities (and sort of silly to do so anywhere), it also means that there’s not much left in the trash to legally set ablaze.
Like recycling of all kinds, it’s important to do it properly. Flatten your boxes, stuff them in a larger box and place them next to your other recyclable paper. Save a large cereal box, stick it under your sink and place your flattened paperboard in the box. Set the “box of boxes” out for collection with your paper.
The greasy bottom to your pizza box still goes in the trash. But just about every other piece of cardboard, both at home and work, now gets recycled. In fact, for the first time, what you recycle at home is identical to what you recycle at work.
It’s easy, too. In fact, in many ways some recycling is easier than putting it in the trash bag. Simply replace some of your trash cans with recycling containers. Many folks keep a small paper recycling receptacle near the computer or the place where homework or bill paying is done.
Place a recycling container for your bottles and cans in or near the kitchen. Remember that none of your bottles and cans need to be separated from each other either. Just rinse them out and toss them into the bin together.
Despite the apparent convenience and ease of recycling, we are still struggling to get everyone on board. This is true at both in the home and in the workplace. Sometimes we complain about our trash and recycling haulers. While there have been some problems on that front in the past, our hauler compliance is now much higher than our residential and business recycling compliance.
Though it’s true that those recycle do it enthusiastically, less than half our households recycle in many neighborhoods. On any given week it seems likely that more than one in ten don’t even have waste and recycling service. While many businesses are recycling cardboard, the majority are not recycling anything else at all.
At least 85% of the waste and recycling haulers are recycling, yet only about 50% of the residential dwellings are recycling. Probably less than a third of businesses and institutions are recycling everything they should.
Yet there are many success stories in places where they don’t even have to recycle. The Martinsburg Area Recycling Center has already sold 250 memberships, even though they have to pay a small fee to help pay for collection costs. Likewise, many businesses are going above and beyond the call of duty.
Now if we could just find a way to make that enthusiasm contagious…
Besides the addition of cardboard, more information on the May 4 special recycling event at PNG Field at the Blair County Ballpark is available at www.ircenvironment.org