My town has a pretty good recycling program but, recently they have changed a few things to go along with the state universal recycling list and this has caused me to do a bit of a trash audit. I am always looking at ways to reduce my waste and I felt I was doing well, but now I have some items that I can no longer put in our single stream recycling bins. I can go to the recycling center with some items and I am going to have to make more of an effort to do just that. Paper bags filled with shredded paper will have to be saved up for that trip. I also have to get a sticker from the town so that I can do that.
I am sure there have been things that I have put in the bin that were not correct and it probably screwed up the load but I am usually very careful. I know recycling is really the last resort and we should be using items that can be used over again, buying things that have little or no packaging and being thoughtful about what we throw away. Since I am the person that does the bulk of the shopping in this house I am responsible for what we throw away also and it is not easy. I heard quite a few comments from people who read the new lists who said that it was getting too hard and they were not going to bother, this frustrates me but I can also understand them. People need things to be easy to understand and implement otherwise they will go the easy route, this is human nature.
My husband takes lunch to work as do I and I use glass containers to send leftovers so they can be reheated and cloth sandwich wraps. He has gone along with this because I make his lunch but left to his own devices he would use a plastic bag or a plastic container with leftovers. I am dragging him along with me on this trip and at times he just pays no attention.
My supermarket collects the plastic bags that stores use even if I use my own we always seem to have plenty of them, they seem to arrive unbidden. They will also take bread bags and some of the plastic used to package things. I am happy that at least I can get rid of those that way.
I don’t know if the items that won’t be accepted in my bin will be accepted at the recycling center and if not now my trash will increase. Most of the increase will be in plastic and this is so maddening because everything is packaged in plastic! The black Chinese food containers are no longer allowed and this might be a problem for us as my husband loves Chinese food. I am going to keep a copy of my list with me until I memorize it so that I can limit or do away with buying things that use that type of plastic. I know the limits of the process but just knowing that doesn’t make it easier to accept. We need to stop using stuff that we can get rid of in a responsible way.
I would love to say that people can go the zero waste route, but it is just not feasible. Most areas do not have markets that sell in bulk, I mean Whole Foods does but they have you use a plastic container! I buy my fruits and veggies loose in my reusable bags but if I want to buy Organic in my market they are wrapped in PLASTIC! Does it make sense for me to drive to 2 or 3 different places to do my shopping and spend more money and use more gas or just accept there will be some things that I will have to throw out because they can’t be recycled? I do not have a big family to feed as it is just the two of us now as the kids are grown so food co-ops are not really feasible, though I can begin to frequent our local community gardens and I do but around here that is seasonal. There are times when it feels like I am spitting into the wind.
I will continue to do my best to run a zero waste (or a 30% waste) home and urging people to do the same. I have written to companies whose products I use to ask them to use less plastic, or even better to use recycled products in their packaging (to close the loop) and stores that I shop in to use less packaging, but it really takes all of us that share this planet to take care of it, so even if we can’t do zero waste we can keep trying our best and do what we can. Don’t give into the feeling that it is a waste of time or just too difficult, those attitudes are not an option. Living everyday should mean that we can continue to live everyday for generations.