Saturday, June 27, 2009

Recycling - There's Always Room for Improvement

Beautiful still morning with a hot air balloon on the horizon coming towards me.

"But I recycle", "My recycling bin is full", and "I recycle everything". Sound familiar? Myself included - there's always room for improvement.

I had the luxury of a gourmet birthday dinner last night with a friend who is on the fringe of recycling. The City of Concord is switching to "Pay as You Throw" and many are kicking and screaming to the curb, including my friend. After P&Ming about having to pay for "those purple bags", I assured her that there was indeed room for improvement and I would prove it to her when I came over for dinner. Not only would I show her how to recycle more, it would also mean she would save money.

So after fig and goat cheese bruschetta, layered Mediterranean salad, marinated/grilled natural chicken with asparagus and whole wheat gnocchi, I went trash can diving before dessert.

What I didn't expect was all the plastic in the trash can. It turns out she had no idea what the triangle meant, never mind what the numbers mean. Easy for her, Concord accepts 1-7. So out comes 4 plastic bottles from the small kitchen trash can. In her favor, she had saved the plastic containers the fruit came in to ask me; they had the number 1 on them, which I had to point out.(yes extremely small so get the glasses out) Kudos for her effort.

What I also found in the trash can of my friend who says she recycles everything, was paper, lots of it, from envelopes, junk mail and toilet paper rolls. "What's this?" I said. "Oh, I usually only do the big stuff." And "Here's a baggie you can rinse out and reuse, looks perfectly good."

Since she was being a pretty good sport thus far, I decided to go for the kill...the refrigerator. Opening the door revealed what is probably pretty typical in many households. Lots of containers, many plastic, covered with a clingy kind of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. I gently (I knew I was beginning to over do it) pointed out that containers with their own lids will save on waste (plastic wrap) or recycling (aluminum) and her lots of money. I also mentioned that the only thing that probably could not be recycled from the fridge were the cartons, but she had to check because they actually might even take those. (which means I'll have to check)

I really was shocked that there seemed to be no knowledge of the triangle number rating on the plastic. Now these are educated folks, activists, old fringe hippies. This is a great example of why "Pay as You Throw" is a good idea. There is still too much going to the landfills or incinerators and we need to "encourage" folks to recycle more. My friend, bless her cotton pickin soul, is a prime example.

Seventh Generation has a great posting on the plastic numbers and what they mean and some tips for plastic use safety. This just takes things one step further. And, yes, I did send it to my friend.

And after all that, we sat down to fresh black raspberries, red raspberries and blue berries, drizzled with smooth ricotta and almond, and a chocolate covered biscotti for dipping. I think she forgave me.

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