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The joys of recycling

I believe that the global climate change is real, and I agree with those who say that humankind in our age greatly affects the climate in less than positive way. I will even argue – strongly, but not vehemently, – that putting environmental causes on government agendas is the only way to affect the issue in a meaningful way.

Well, true, I drive an SUV. And use as much electricity in the house as I think needed, not as some conservationist guidelines dictate. But I recycle. Doesn’t that, coupled with the fact that I believe Al Gore, qualifies as being environment-conscious?

Ah, the recycling. Looking after the environment as much as I do, I certainly do not expect myself to go out of the way to sort my refuse along the lines of paper separately, glass separately, plastic separately, tin separately, and so on, as one of my friends once told me he was more than happy to do. Making sure that bottle caps do not contaminate the bin with plastic bottles is a bit too bothersome for me to care about.

In New Jersey, newspapers had to be separated from other paper, and plastic/glass/tin recyclables were all dumped into one bin. Easy enough. But now I live in England, and Europeans in general are much more active in environmental causes than Americans are.

That was not apparent at first. The recycling scheme in Greenwich Council, which we happen to belong to, asked for all recyclables to be put in a single bin, no separation of any kind. Happy to do my little part in saving the environment. I’ve read all about the ludicrous enforcement of rubbish sorting rules in other municipalities, but it did not hit home.

Until now, that is. The activists on the council have changed the garbage collection rules. Only, instead of coming up with sorting guidelines, they figured out something fancier. Now, the food waste needs to be separated from everything else, and cannot be gathered into plastic bags, since, you know, those are not compostable.

I don’t know how many of my readers who share the same background with me remember the smell of exposed food waste accumulating in a garbage container for several days in a row. For those who cannot even imagine that, believe me, the smell was vile. Rodents, undoubtedly, loved it. People? Not so much.

This is what we are now faced with. Gather all food refuse into the complimentary mini-bin – lovingly called a caddy – and then empty it into the big bin that stands in our driveway, which the council will collect from us once a week, on Tuesdays. The bin does have a lid, but over time that surely will not count for much. Without finding a way to store said refuse with minimal unpleasant effects, no food preparation before Saturdays would even be possible anymore…

As far as other rubbish besides recyclables and food waste, we now need to put it into large black trash bags and leave them on the curb outside of the bins for collection. Except, such bags will be collected only biweekly, which is rather cunning if you think of it, as it makes me less willing to violate the scheme by going for concealing the aforementioned food waste in a black bag.

Short of weekly thorough cleaning of our food waste bin – and who wants to do that!? – we need to get biodegradable paper bags for the food refuse to make the new procedure tolerable. Of course, paper bags cannot be found in supermarkets, and while the council advertises selling them, it is impossible to reach the phone order line. A small inconvenience big enough to put one off saving the environment forever.

How do you do your part?


  1. jason

    Here in Utah, we have limited recycling and I wish we had more. We have cardboard and paper recycling — newspapers, glossy catalogs and magazines, and junk mail — as well as two types of plastic. It’s convenient enough — it can all go in the same bin — but there are other types of plastic that aren’t handled, and there is no provision for glass. There are facilities in these parts for recycling aluminum, but they don’t collect it; you have to take it in yourself, which isn’t easy if you don’t have a truck or a vehicle with large cargo capacity.

    I’d be more than happy to recycle everything that can be, and even to sort it all into separate bins. The history of World War II is one of interests, and I’m always amazed by stories of how that generation recycled everything for the war effort, and I’m disheartened that we can’t make the same effort now in the name of saving the earth. Or at least just to not be so wasteful. I hate our “throwaway” attitude…

  2. Ilya

    Despite the lighthearted tone of this post, I couldn’t agree with you more, Jason. Except in the part of having to sort bottle caps away from bottles 🙂

  3. Kisintin

    For whatever reason, I always believe that recycling is a part of special interest groups, read garbage mafia, to not do the additional work of sorting out through garbage on the place of a landfill. And in my opionion does very little of preserving the environment.

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