By AMANDA WHEELER
9:11 AM EDT, September 19, 2011
Once a week my husband and I take our trash out to the curb. Once every other week we take our recycling to the curb. It always amazes me how much recycling we can accumulate — every two weeks, our recycling bin is practically overflowing.
We average about one bag of trash per week, which looks tiny sitting at the bottom of our giant green trash bin. It always makes me happy to see how much bigger our recycling collection is compared to our trash.
But when I drive down streets nearby on trash and recycling day, I often notice other houses with an overflowing trash bin outside and no recycling bin in sight. It seems nearly impossible a household could generate that much trash without generating any recycling.
I’ve asked people before why they don’t recycle and it’s often because it seems like a daunting task or because they don’t really see it benefiting them personally.
Our local solid waste department has helped reduce the intimidation of trying to recycle by providing us with our convenient blue recycling bins that we can dump all our recycling into without sorting.
But I think lots of people still can’t see how taking the time to recycle benefits them. This is understandable, since the benefits of recycling aren’t seen or felt as directly as the time taken to get in the habit of recycling.
A friend of mine made an interesting suggestion one day that could offer people more of a direct incentive to recycle. It’s idealistic, but it’s still a good idea.
Her idea is to allow everyone a certain number of pounds of trash per person in each household every week. If people want to pay the minimum trash pickup charge, they have to stay within that limit; if they go over, they could be charged extra. The solid waste department could also hold amnesty days where people can throw away however much they want.
The second part of her idea involves crediting customers’ accounts based on how many pounds they recycle. Recycle enough and you never have to even think about going over on your trash limit because your recycling credits will cover it.
Of course, there are flaws in every system and this idea isn’t anywhere near developed into a feasible plan. If you didn’t execute this idea properly, it could encourage people to put non-recyclable items in the recycling, or worse yet, dispose of their trash illegally. But it’s still an interesting thought experiment, and I like the idea of instituting some kind of more immediate or tangible reward for recycling so more people would do it.
Until that reward comes along, we’ll just have to keep recycling for the less immediate reward of a cleaner, more efficient culture and planet.
If you’re unsure what you can recycle, here’s a quick list of some of the items the Danville-Boyle County Recycling Center and most other centers accept: cardboard boxes; Nos. 1 and 2 plastics; metal cans; paper; and glass jars.
Make sure to clean out food containers before you recycle them. If you have other questions about recycling, like what other items are accepted, give your recycling center a quick call to find out. Boyle’s recycling center number is (859) 238-1116.
Amanda's Animal Fact of the Week:
Wasps are extremely beneficial to humans. Nearly every pest insect on Earth is preyed upon by a wasp species, either for food or asa host for its parasitic larvae.
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