Dover Post staffer does her part to make the world a greener place through recycling.
I grew up in a time where Smokey Bear told us kids to prevent forest fires. We were supposed to say no to drugs and everything else. And we weren’t supposed to talk to strangers either.
Then came the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle.
One day, most likely in the ’80s, my parents were given a little green bin, which would be picked up every week from their Long Island home. In it they could put plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers. Nothing more.
Soda and beer bottles and cans were exempt, not by the rules of the recycling collection company but per my father. Those were taken to the supermarket where the can-crushing and bottle-breaking machines would refund the five-cent deposit.
Going to the supermarket with him only a year ago, he still is telling the other husbands waiting in line that the deposits are going toward college funds. I hope he’s talking about his grandchildren because my sister and I have been out of college for quite some time.
Fast forward to college — which evidently recycling helped pay for — we were required to recycle at our off-campus home. If the municipal trash collectors heard bottles and cans clinking and clanking inside the trash bags, they knew we weren’t recycling and we got fined. So we became good citizens and recycled every can we could.
Either way, recycling was a part of my daily life — convenient recycling, that is. But I took a several-year hiatus from recycling until just a few months ago because I didn’t find it so convenient. I’ve since realized what a mistake I was making in not recycling.
In January, when Annette Von Stetten came to work at the Dover Post in our MIS/IT department, with her came a multitude of recycling bins. Appropriately so, since her husband Richard is in charge of statewide recycling for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority.
I put a bin in my office and quickly realized how much office paper I throw out on a normal basis, everything from faxes from California about issues not impacting our readers to printed out proofs of our pages. Even my spent soda cans and water bottles.
Once a week I take my bin out to the receptacles in our parking lot.
The only thing left in my office trash at the end of the day is an empty bag of pretzels and some gum wrappers, which may or may not be recyclable. I don’t know.
That prompted me to sign up for curbside recycling.
I started collecting my recyclables on the kitchen counter and realized I needed to do more. I bought a separate trashcan for my environmentally sound practices and now regret not purchasing a larger one.
We’ve easily reduced our garbage by half, if not more. My 65-gallon cart just as easily is filled up every two weeks.
What makes Delaware’s curbside recycling better than what I grew up with is that, through the single-stream recycling, we can put everything out — the usual stuff like newspapers and cans, but also magazines, cardboard and cereal boxes.
And junk mail, catalogs and other unsolicited nonsense. I get plenty of it and whatever doesn’t get shredded goes in the “other” trashcan.
No more sorting either. Way more convenient.
The last time my father and I talked about recycling on Long Island, they still had their little green bin and hadn’t progressed beyond recycling the usual items.
There’s always is the bottom line, though. Is recycling cost effective?
While that’s a question for someone else to answer, I can say this. I feel much better knowing that all the junk I buy isn’t going directly to a landfill, like I’m doing my part in this green revolution we’re all going through, even if it does costs us a few more dollars.
It’s money well spent.