My mother says that I wash my trash and from her perspective, she’s right. She lives in a place where all her trash goes out to the curb in big plastic bags inside the giant plastic trash bin, without differentiation of what anything is. I, on the other hand, have been a practicing recycler for over fifteen years and find it weird to be outside my home base where I don’t know what to do with something I’m about to discard.
Behind a chair in the living room there is a paper bag to collect my paper trash, including cardboard boxes, catalogs and magazines, and junk mail. I used to collect newspaper, too, but now I just read that online which is both more ecologically friendly and cheaper. In the kitchen there is a bin gathering glass, plastic and metal containers – and yes, I rinse them out before I put them in there. Otherwise they start to smell funny and attract bugs which is not a good thing. The paper and container recycling is collected at our complex in big bins. I used to drop them off on the way to work but have taken to walking them over and getting a little extra exercise.
Another paper bag collects plastic bottles and cans for recycling at the grocery store and those are also rinsed before they go in so they aren’t all sticky. I get $.05 back for each of those so I have a financial motive for returning them, but mostly I just want them recycled and have been known to give them to someone else in line if they look as though they could use the deposit refund more than I do.
When clothes are weeded out of the closet and drawers, they are recycled to the Big Brother/Big Sister collection box. Miscellaneous stuff from the house that has reusable value is taken to the thrift store or given away through Freecycle. I could probably sell some if it through eBay or Craigslist but it’s not really worth the trouble. On the other hand, sometimes it’s necessary to weigh the value of just getting rid of things to make space, so not everything is recycled. A lot is, though.
It feels good to be green. I like knowing that I’m helping to deal with a real problem and not just continuing to add to it. It takes organization, which I’m good at, and a little time to make sure I stay on top of everything without the piles overtaking the available space. But it’s worth it.