Monday, July 11, 2016

Recycle the usual suspects!

Last year I did a humorous report (well, I laughed) about the recycling practices of a fictional neighborhood.

Lest you think it was all just a gag, though, I would like to share with you some quotes from the town's recycling ordinance combined with pictures of the stuff our townsfolk put out for recycling.

ALL RESIDENTS MUST RECYCLE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:


MIXED PAPERS — NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES, CARDBOARD, JUNK MAIL, BOXES, OFFICE PAPER, PAPERBACK BOOKS, & TELEPHONE BOOKS — Tie in bundles no larger than 12". 


Plastic Containers & Cartons—includes juice boxes, frozen food containers.

PLEASE DO NOT PUT CO-MINGLED ITEMS IN PLASTIC BAGS.

Tin & Aluminum Cans & Foil



Plastic Containers & Cartons—includes juice boxes, frozen food containers.

Brown craft cardboard must be flattened & tied. 

Plastic Containers & Cartons—includes juice boxes, frozen food containers.

PLEASE DO NOT PUT CO-MINGLED ITEMS IN PLASTIC BAGS.

Am I the only one who read the sheet? 

Actually, I'm not sure I did! I usually fail to bundle my papers, just leave them in the plastic container, loose.

Here is the only house I saw that had no violations of the ordinance---but you would have to believe the daily paper is the only recyclable material that goes into their home.


What must the town elders think of us people? "So they believe electric fans, McDonald's cups, and plastic toys count as 'plastic containers and cartons' -- interesting! And when we say 'no plastic bags' it means they think we want plastic bags. How counterintuitive!"

Here's the thing---I have never seen the trash men not take something that was put out on recycling day. I've seen worse than I photographed here. They take it all. I think I could put out a dead deer in one of those buckets and they'd take it. They exercise no judgment in the performance of their duties.

Which makes me wonder if any of this stuff is actually going into the single-stream recycling flow, or if it's all just going to the landfill anyway. They pick it up in a standard garbage truck. If there's food scraps and stains in the pizza boxes---and you know there are---that supposedly contaminates the paper fibers. Are garbage fairies really picking all this over after pickup day? "You're good; you're naughty; you're good...."

Some towns are a lot more serious about compliance to recycling rules. They issue tickets and summonses. I think in Oregon it may be a shooting offense. 

All this for what may be a load of crap anyway. Last year science writer John Tierney penned a scathing New York Times article on the practice. And the Guardian also ran a sad piece about it. Bonus: Absolutely no one wants your old TV

And yet, the town's noncompliance irritates me for two reasons: 1) I am easily irritated, and 2) Even if recycling is a crock of crap, it's one that's been put upon us because we believed it was important. So if we're going to do it, we ought to be able to follow some simple instructions. It's like we all enthusiastically agreed to put on this big kabuki dance but we refuse to learn the parts. 

If we can't comply, we should just throw everything in the garbage and the hell with it. If recycling is just virtue signalling, then burn it all for power and screw it. 
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