Going on a free tour of my county’s local recycling center was a dream come true. The tours are generally for school groups and children. Okay, they’re entirely comprised of children. But we scheduled an adults-only group for two, and it was awesome.
See, I’m an avid recycler. Maybe a militant recycler. Well both, really. The thing is, I cannot believe how much we waste. What’s worse, is that we do a good job of hiding it. So we, the general American public, really have no idea how much we throw out.
But we throw out so much that we don’t have to. So much that we can actually recycle and/or reuse.
This makes me sad.
Seriously. All the ocean garbage and the dead seagulls keep me up at night. (Except after kettlebells, then I sleep really good.)
No matter how much I try to reduce and how much I recycle, I’ve always wondered if there was more I could do. Or, I used to wonder, “Is all this recycling and not-sleeping-about-trash actually doing any good?” Do they just throw out that plastic bottle if it isn’t cleaned out enough? Or if the lid is on jelly jar, does it just end up and the landfill anyway?
I had to know.
I’m happy to report, that at least in my municipality, the recycling center is badass.
Plastic & glass with food goo (read: peanut butter jars)? Toss ‘em in. No need to freaky-rinse. Everything is processed at such high temperatures that it burns away any “dirt.”
Caps on plastic bottles (read: liquid containers)? Toss ‘em in. Try to take the caps off first (and recycle them too), but don’t stress. We’ll handle it.
Weird plastics (read: broken lawn furniture)? Toss ‘em in. These guys wanted every kind of plastic, except styrofoam (not really a plastic). Plastic chairs, kids toys, paint buckets (minus the paint), all recyclable.
I had a million questions
and can’t remember everything. We saw where all the wood and tires and metal and randomness gets sorted. The facility is so high functioning because of a mix between lasers (lasers!), heavy machinery, and good-ole-hand-sorting.
A few things of interest at my recycling facility:
- Glass isn’t recycled, it’s reused here in by the city. They crush it and use it for pavement/cement mixtures.
- Aluminum cans are banned from landfills. I’m not sure how exactly that is enforced, but that’s pretty cool.
- Aluminum is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and 80% of all the aluminum ever mined is still in use.
After my trip to the recycling center, I started a recycling bin at the barn. Mostly, the caretakers fill the bin with empty Corona bottles (tough gig). I’m trying to collect all the drink cans out of the dumpsters as well.
If I had more third places, I’d recycle there, too.