Practical Recycling

by Sherrie D. Thornton

"Recycling--what a mess--I hate it," at least that's what I say every time I load up the station wagon with my monthly collection of office paper, newspaper, plastic, cardboard, glass, and tin cans. My car looks like I robbed the dumpster.

I started recycling about five years ago as my part to help alleviate the landfill dilemma. I started with newspaper and aluminum and gradually added to my repertoire as I saw it was not that difficult and I liked having 1-2 bags of garbage for collection each week. The community also grew to meet the needs of avid recyclers in the area by providing drop-off spots for recyclables. It became a challenge to see how little my garbage pickup could be.

Over the years I have tried a variety of recycling aids--none of which I have fallen in love with. Basically, my system consists of a series of boxes and bags which I separate items into as they become recyclable. When the box/bag becomes full, it exits the house into the laundry room in the garage. Once that area has becomes unmanageable (things falling out the door when I open it and the laundry piling up because I can't get to the washer), I back the car in and load the items into the car trying to keep the different recyclables grouped together. For our aluminum cans, I keep a large trash can outside and when the can becomes full, we go to the aluminum recycler and sell the cans. Aluminum is the only recyclable we sell. The kids get the money or we go to a cheap lunch.

My kids really appreciate my recycling ways because when they have an art project or need cardboard/glass jar, I inevitably have something to meet their needs. We also use the back of already used paper for scrap paper, notes, and drawing projects. So, in essence, these items are recycled twice--once when the kids use them, and again when I recycle their projects.

As of yet, there is no curbside recycling in our area, but there is a new recycling plant about 2 miles from my home. Sometimes it is a real pain to clean, separate, and hold all this garbage but the rewards come when I take my 1-2 bags of garbage a week (for a family of four plus four pets) to the curb versus my neighbor's 7-9 bags each week. Recently, our city council has talked about charging for garbage pickup by the pound--I'm all for it! Maybe it would force some of these lazy people to take a few extra minutes to save some landfill space.

My goal is to become the ultimate recycler and find a use for almost all my garbage. Composting is my next challenge--the first time I tried it, I found the dog eating out of it. Going to have to come up a new plan for that venture.

Recycling is a wonderful way to help save our increasingly shrinking and fragile planet. I plan on being around for quite a while, so my feeling is that I should do everything possible to preserve its resources. Recycling requires a minimum of effort and costs basically nothing but your time and a little extra storage space in your house. By recycling, I am saving landfill space and a variety of natural resources which would normally be harvested were it not for recycled resources taking their place.

In addition, recycling not only encompasses trash, frugal shopping at garage sales and Goodwill-type stores is also included in recycling. In effect, someone else's items which they no longer want and that would probably end up in a landfill somewhere are recycled to someone who is interested in using them a while longer be it furniture, books, clothing, or any other number of goodies you can dig up and find. This type of recycling is my favorite and I am not above driving through the area neighborhoods on garbage day to see what is sitting at the curb--it's amazing what people will throw out!

Save our planet and Happy Recycling.

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