Fixing other people’s green mistakes (Day 365)…

bumper

Ugh. Day 365. Today was the day I’d been looking forward to for so long. It was the day when this challenge was to finally be complete, when I could officially say “I did it” and reflect upon a full year of green changes.

Then, someone decided to make it a leap year.

Damn you, Gregorian calendar!!

But that’s fine, tomorrow isn’t so far away, and at least it gives me a bit of extra time to spend with you, my faithful readers.

Anyway, as I was walking home one evening this week, which happened to be the night before collection day for garbage and recycling, I noticed one household had left out a Blue Bin with Styrofoam in it. Not cool! This could very well mean that instead of getting sorted out at the depot, the whole lot just gets tossed out — same goes for pizza boxes, bottle caps and light bulbs. As Alina has mentioned before, there are rules that come with recycling, and if you screw them up it could mean a chain reaction that ends up with everything going straight to the dump.

So I stopped, plucked out the Styrofoam container — which had some gross red substance oozing out of it — and put it in the garbage, where it belonged. While it’s frustrating that, after decades of organized recycling, people still can’t sort things out properly, I can sympathize with the fact that there are so many different materials, and often the City will update their operations to include an item that previously couldn’t be processed.

Therefore, instead of taking the misanthropic route of cursing people’s ignorance and walking by, I’m going to make sure I stop and take the time to right the recycling wrongs in this world.

Image of a car bumper placed most erroneously in a recycling bin courtesy of Mr. T in DC on Flickr

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25 Responses to Fixing other people’s green mistakes (Day 365)…

  1. Erin says:

    Wow! That is a very cool change to make! Kudos to you for touching someone else’s gross stuff :-)

    Have been thoroughly enjoying your blog, Vanessa. I hope you will continue to write about your ecoadventures after the experiment ends!

  2. besweet says:

    Wait, no pizza boxes? Dammit! Now I feel dumb.

  3. Alina says:

    Congratulations on completing your challenge! I’d say you’ve proven your hypothesis – your blog certainly has been inspiring for so many people. Now, I hope you don’t plan on deserting us, young lady. I’d like to see your blog continue to evolve and flourish…

  4. pat says:

    No pizza boxes?? I thought you just had to take out the pizza?

  5. Trix says:

    Aren’t pizza boxes ok so long as the grease doesn’t leak onto the cardboard?

  6. limesarah says:

    Different areas have different policies regarding pizza boxes. Some say that they’re ok so long as there’s no grease on them, some just have a flat no-pizza-box policy, probably because they so often are greasy. Cambridge, MA has a “if it rips, recycle it!” policy, a catchphrase that I’ve always liked :-)

  7. Trix says:

    Completely off topic from today’s change, but I just heard about this event going on this weekend in Toronto. Not only is it a wedding show, but it’s also a lifestyle show to help prepare to live as sustainable a life together as possible. Looks cool…
    http://www.ecoweddingshow.com/

  8. Tina says:

    Vanessa, I’m going to miss your blog terribly! I hope you continue on in some other fashion, however.

  9. Toby says:

    My neighbours always have garbage in their recycle bins, or even paper in their plastic bin. I don’t get it. If you’re lazy wouldn’t you just trash everything. Are they fooling themselves into thinking they’re recycling?

  10. Vanessa says:

    Yeah, to my knowledge you can’t recycle pizza boxes if there’s grease on them… I sometimes find that nothing from my pizza comes off, but maybe that’s because I get veggie toppings and no extra cheese or anything (although, I haven’t actually ordered pizza for months). Maybe some pizza companies are better than others, too, when it comes to that?

  11. Oh I hear you on this one. The other folks in my apartment building cannot seem to manage to get their trash and recycling into the right bins and I am forever sorting it out.

  12. Trix says:

    It depends which pizza place you frequent. I find that smaller, one-off places just throw their pizzas in a box, while larger companies, like Pizza Pizza, always line their pizza boxes with some sort of thick paper to prevent the grease from soaking into the pizza box.
    The question is eco-friendly and tasteless pizza or throw it out and delicious pizza?

  13. Esme says:

    We’re able to throw our greasy pizza boxes in the green bin, and our non-greasy ones in the paper bin. Is that a no-go in T.O.?

  14. arduous says:

    “But that’s fine, tomorrow isn’t so far away, and at least it gives me a bit of extra time to spend with you, my faithful readers.”

    Wait a second. In your haiku you promised there was so much more!! Now I’m scared. Don’t leave us!!

  15. Stacy says:

    Wow, congratulations for tomorrow in advance. I hope you saved some “research” from yesterday’s post as a celebratory indulgence for tomorrow! And please don’t cut out the blog cold (freerange organic) turkey on us!

  16. Hellcat13 says:

    I have to show this one to my boyfriend. He constantly throws things in the recycling just because he thinks they *should* be recyclable. (Mind you, he grew up in an area with the wet/dry system, where if you would touch it again, it goes in dry, and if you wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole (chicken wrapping, used kleenex, etc) then it goes in the wet. Ottawa’s rules are a bit of a change for him.

  17. MamaBird says:

    Like Fake Plastic Fish says, you really never know what happens to that recycling after you put it out. Thanks for the reminder on the pizza boxes. My most horrific not-recycling experience was watching an employee at Whole Foods gather up all of the recycling (plastic bottles) behind the customer service desk and then bellow at another employee to go throw them out! You know I said something, and you know they threw them out anyways…. ack!

  18. This one has a corollary you might have covered earlier … my own angst when my neighbors put a big stack of cardboard (or even just a box or two) out with the trash, when they could *so easily* recycle it. I have claimed their boxes for my bin before …

    I join your other readers in hoping you won’t quit blogging for good once March 1 rolls around.

  19. Kuri says:

    This is why I love Edmonton – they pay someone else to sort the recycling and tell me that if I’m ever in doubt whether something can be recycled or not, to include it in recycling. People are paid to do sorting, which is why participation rates are so high here in an otherwise not quite so green city.

  20. Alina says:

    Wow, I had no idea folks get so worked up over pizza boxes :)

  21. Sense of Balance says:

    Trash collectors in my part of London (the Ontario one) seem to have a simple policy; what they’re supposed to do is have separate receptacles in the same truck for garbage and for recycling. What they seem to have is a quota for garbage; because, most often, the plastic bottles go right in with the pizza crusts. And our 95-year-old householders are so dutiful too about separating the recycling …

    Go get ‘em, girl!

  22. Doug says:

    Just a heads up – Styrofoam ™ (which is a brand name for the generic thermoplastic ‘polystyrene’), aka “recycling logo #6″ /can/ be recycled in Toronto – there’s no “curbside pickup” (blue bin) however if you take it to nearly any transfer station it can be recycled. This one-page PDF has all the info about PS and other goodies than can be taken to the transfer station:
    http://www.toronto.ca/garbage/pdf/solidwastedrop-offdepots.pdf

  23. Debbie says:

    you are just a grrrrrrrrreat citizen. this going green thing is wonderful, however, i don’t think I would have done the work myself I would have knocked on their door and said something to that person(s). I am sure they have lived in that house long enough to know what goes into what can. I lived with a friend for one year in a house and I learned quick besides the DEP will give them a fine and they will not pick up that can for that day. in addition, they need to learn for themselves what goes where!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. you can not go aruond righting everyones wrong…………

  24. Wow, I had no idea folks get so worked up over pizza boxes

  25. This is why I love Edmonton – they pay someone else to sort the recycling and tell me that if I’m ever in doubt whether something can be recycled or not, to include it in recycling. People are paid to do sorting, which is why participation rates are so high here in an otherwise not quite so green city.

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