Friday, May 4, 2007
Earth to recycling
Ah, remember those halcyon days when you recycled your bottles and cans and could feel good about doing your part? The world made sense back then, didn't it? Actually, I admit I'm idealizing the good old days. If I'm honest, I always had a lingering suspicion about whether my milk jugs, aluminum cans, and paper--all mixed together, mostly rinsed out--were actually making it from my curbside to anywhere other than a landfill. I mean, come on. Were workers really paid to sift through and separate my colored paper from my cans of black beans? As we often do to get through the day, I squelched those doubts and continued to go through the motions of "doing my part", not really knowing what could or couldn't be recycled in my area. And in the last several months, I've steered clear of even mentioning the "R" word, well, because we know we need to be focusing our efforts on the first 2 Rs--Reducing and Reusing, of course.
But, we obviously shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. After I've reduced and reused, I still have plenty of materials that can be recycled. So I was thrilled to discover an exhaustive, invaluable resource-- Earth 911. Ever wanted to know exactly what types of plastic and glass your curbside recycling service accepts? If you can mix newspaper with white and colored paper?
This site is amazing because you simply enter in your zip code and get a list of the curbside services in your area and what materials they accept. THEN, if you have still have materials that they won't pick up--like packing peanuts, or green glass, you can search for drop off centers in your area. But the most invaluable aspect of this site is that, in addition to the basic items we all know we should be recycling, it provides recycling/reuse information for all those miscellaneous materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill or rotting out on your curb. Metal clothes hangers, inkjet cartridges, old telephones, musical instruments, mattresses, floppy disks, cooking oil, magazines...that's just the beginning. Remodeling your house? There are sites that will accept your old carpet, ceramics, linoleum, and roof shingles. What a revelation! Check it out and forward widely. This site should be at the top of everyone's bookmarks. Go forth and recycle everything!
Maybe because of all the attention they got on Oprah's Earth Day special, Earth911 has totally revamped their website in the last couple weeks, so much so that I thought I had the wrong site when I needed to look something up today. Unfortunately, it is much less user-friendly. You can still get the info you're looking for, it just seems to be a little more obscured.