Do Yours “Blend Thoroughly into a Harmonious Whole?”
In our urban suburb town in Northern NJ we are required to recycle: plastic/aluminum, mixed paper and yard debris come quickly to mind as far as our weekly commitment. Our family loyally trundles the recycling containers to the curb once a week or even less often. And I’m kinda proud that our containers usually aren’t stuffed full, which means we are buying fewer products and/or products with less packaging. Great for our world! Great for us!
What makes me crazy is how involved the whole process has become in recent years. We used to separate newspapers from glossy papers like magazines, tie them separately and place the bundles at the curb. Then we’d separate the aluminum and steel cans from each other and the plastic bottles and put them separately at the curb in old milk crates. It was pretty straightforward. Back then little kids could do it, no problem.
Now we have a tri-fold handout our town mailed to us. Four of its six sections contain highly detailed instructions about how we must break down/separate our families’ recyclables in order not to “contaminate” our town’s recycling mix and have it “rejected” by our recycling vendor. I don’t want my family’s stuff being thought of as a contaminant or a reject, never mind that it’s garbage, albeit recyclable. I don’t want my family’s failure to follow the rules to be the sole reason a huge garbage truck load of recyclables is rejected at the recycling center. . .I don’t want my family singled out for ridicule and scorn because we put the pizza box (“Paper Products Not Accepted: . . . pizza boxes. . .”) in the wrong container at the curb. So we work really hard to get the separation and bundling and all just right. I even make little handles so the newspapers can be easily carried to the curb and tossed into the truck. I’m weird that way.
In our town, “mixed paper” includes newspapers, corrugated cardboard (but only if you flatten and tie it together), magazines, junk mail, paper boxes (but only if you remove the crinkly sack inside), and paper beverage cartons (but only if they are emptied, flattened and the caps are removed), among other items on the list.
Is recycling this finely tuned in your town? Do you have to separate the plastics like we do: “Plastic bottles, jugs, or food containers marked only with numbers ‘1’ or ‘2’ inside the recycling symbol, a triangle of arrows, printed on the bottom.” ?? Do your recyclables “commingle” (or “blend thoroughly into a harmonious whole,” according to Webster’s)?!