Recycling Without Curbside Pickup: an Illustrated Guide

It took my Republican friend to finally get me to start recycling.

Friend: “Where do I put this can?”

Me: “Um…in the trash…”

Friend: “You don’t recycle?  That doesn’t seem to fit you.”

No.  No it doesn’t.  I didn’t recycle because I was standing on high moral ground – my city doesn’t do curbside recycling and until they do, by God, I was a contientious objector.

Crazy comes in many forms.

But the truth was that I was both crazy – and lazy.  I didn’t know how to sort my trash properly and I didn’t want to take the time to learn how set it all up and take it to the recycling center – which just happened to be only a few blocks away.

My how things change.

A few weeks ago we had a big windstorm.  Windstorms are not uncommon around these parts.  But this particular day was trash day in my neighborhood so all the cans were out and the effect of this was that trash of all kinds was swirling around my street like a scene from the Wizard of Oz.  But instead of the Wicked Witch of the East riding through the storm on her bicycle, imagine me running from house to house picking up trash cans and rummaging through neighbors’ blowing garbage scowling and cursing out loud to myself.  “Who throws away their ALUMINUM?  Don’t they KNOW recycling a single can will power their television for THREE HOURS?”

If I can go from one kind of crazy to another in a matter of months, I’m sure I can help you too.  Don’t fret – you probably won’t start wearing a pointy black hat & shoes and striped stockings – I’m just special that way.

STEP ONE: REDUCE AND REUSE.

The ultimate goal of recycling is to reduce your carbon footprint: both the stuff that you use to live and the trash that ends up in the landfill because of said stuff.  It isn’t enough to just consume and recycle.  First think about your lifestyle choices and what you can pull back on.  Use less paper.  Stop buying all that plastic bottled water and fill up a reusable bottle with filtered water instead.  Before you toss that cardboard box, is there something else you can use it for?  You get the idea.

STEP TWO: VISIT YOUR RECYCLING CENTER WITHOUT RECYCLING FIRST.

Chances are the recycling center’s containers are well labeled.  Learn what is recyclable in your area.  Find out what goes into each bin and how to prepare each item (for instance, you’ll probably need to break down cardboard boxes, crush milk jugs and cans, etc.)  If you happen to live in Richland, I’ll save you the trip (even if you don’t, chances are they are similar):

STEP THREE: BUY SOME RECYCLING BINS.

Think about where you’ll store the bins in your car and how they will fit in your car when they are full for the trip to the recycling center.  I opt for small bins and go to the recycling center every week or two.  (Hint: smaller bins means less of a chore.)

Even with my small car it all fits in the hatchback – mostly.  I put the oversized cardboard in the passenger seat:

I keep them in the garage right outside the door from the kitchen.  That way it’s easy for me to walk over and place a folded up cereal box or whatever in the bin with only taking a few steps and swinging open a door.  They need to be washable, stackable and open on one side.  I love mine – the handles make them stackable and easy to carry.  I got them at Target or Walmart.

STEP FOUR: LABEL THE BINS.

Break down each bin by the container you’ll be recycling into.  Permanent marker should work easily and not wash off.

STEP FIVE: START FILLING YOUR BINS.

‘Nuff said.

STEP SIX:  TO THE RECYCLING CENTER!

Actually, I sort of enjoy my trip to the recycling center even if I do look like a stereotype with my hybrid car.

It doesn’t take long, and often I keep the kids strapped into their car seats.  But sometimes I let Connor help.

 

STEP SEVEN: REPEAT STEPS FIVE AND SIX.

Forever. 

Well, that sums it up…and if you end up looking like this, don’t say I didn’t warn you:

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2 Responses to “Recycling Without Curbside Pickup: an Illustrated Guide”


  1. 1 John Goes May 17, 2007 at 3:18 am

    Did you get paid to recycle those? 3 hrs of television should translate into income for you.

  2. 2 Agatha May 22, 2007 at 1:11 am

    Awesome. That’s awesome.

    You HAVE to do this – but you know that already. Sign up for the class, the childcare will actually take care of itself. I know that sounds flippant, but these things DO work out. They really do.

    I’m so excited for you – I’ve been trawling back through your blog & this is clearly something you NEED & HAVE to do.

    Good luck! X


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