Back in early April, I wrote that a change was coming to my household routine. And now the details: On April Fools Day, I cancelled my weekly residential curbside garbage service, and replaced it with a DIY recycle routine. Before the switch, I spent several weeks considering:
- What I was throwing away each week (i.e., the number and type of items discarded, and the volume);
- How much I was paying for weekly curbside garbage service ($56 quarterly);
- How many times I wasn’t home on garbage pickup day, or merely forgot to set the bin at the curb;
- How much an occasional trip to the landfill would cost in money and inconvenience ($25 per load, apx five miles away, open on weekends).
Then I decided to give the recycle routine a 3-month trial period. I began taking all of my paper, glass, metal, and most plastics to the local recycle center. Yard clippings got mulched and/or composted. I was already composting food waste.
The Verdict: This isn’t foolish; it’s awesome! I never want to go back to curbside garbage service. I feel good about recycling and being more aware of buying non-recyclable stuff. Correction: I feel great about it. I save a little bit of money, but that’s not even the biggest benefit. The routine is better and easier. Honest!
The recycle center is less than a mile from my house, and is open 3 days a week. Gone is the problem of being away on garbage day, or forgetting to put the bin out at the curb.
The recycle center is like a reverse grocery store. You park, put your items in the grocery cart, push the cart around to the various labeled disposal bins, and drop off your items. I’m in and out of the recycle center in 2-5 minutes.
About that curbside garbage bin: I no longer have the big, ugly, dirty garbage service bin in my yard. Instead, I have three small baskets under a kitchen cabinet, for paper, plastic and ‘other’. The ‘other’ basket holds cans, foil and glass.
The biggest volume of my weekly curbside garbage was weeds and bush trimmings. Those now get mulched and/or composted, thanks in part to the little chipper-shredder I bought with the initial savings from the cancelled garbage service.
There are some items the recycle center won’t take, such as Styrofoam and cheese wrappers. I seldom get styrofoam packaging, and I don’t consume a lot of cheese. When I do have a cheese wrapper, I take it with me on my next trip to the grocery store, and put it in the garbage can at the store entrance. In other words, I take it back to the place where I bought it. Is that ethical? I’m still contemplating that. I store other non-recyclables out of the way in my shed, for taking to the landfill. I’ve only had to make one trip to the landfill so far, and had a free coupon for it.
Has this new recycle routine changed how I shop? Yes, a little bit. For instance, recently, I was trying to choose between two brands of whole wheat flour; each the same price. Then I noticed that one was in a paper package, but the other in non-recyclable, cheese-wrapper-type plastic. So, aha, I chose the paper package.
How good do I feel about my recycle routine? The recycle center reminds me at the end of every visit.
Something new I learned: Disposable wipes contain plastic.