Monday, June 16, 2008

Dos and Don'ts of Recycling?

We are a family of six. All my kids are boys. Boys eat A LOT. Boys drink A LOT. So, we used to have A LOT of trash. Now, we are down to about 1 bag a week and our recycling is looking pretty sparse as well. With milk bottles going back to the dairy, bulk buying and eliminating all of our bottled tea, water and kids drinks our neighbors probably think we are on vacation or maybe starving our kids... What happened to our trash?

And, then there' s the issue of paper. For the longest time we put all of our junk mail in the recycling bin. You know, the oil change specials from the dealership where we bought the van, teeth cleaning reminders from the dentist, special offers from the local banks, stores and charities. Didn't think too much of it, we shred all of the important stuff so we thought we were fine.

Then a few weeks ago our local eleven o'clock news ran one of their "special segments" in which a news anchor ran around town grabbing stuff out of recycling bins to see just how much information he could get with a quick stop and grab. Identity theft, bank accounts, pant size, brand of milk?? Great, this news anchor (who probably got this crap assignment because he or she is the newbie or is on some kind of probationary period) now has scared the 10 or 12 people who actually recycle into rethinking putting anything into the blue bin and putting it by the street.

So, now my husband is paranoid. He doesn't want anything to go into the bin that even has our name on it. (I still sneak some stuff in between a pizza box or magazine or two - just in case any thieves are reading, woo whoo, our bin is ripe for the stealin'!) He would prefer to either a) shred it all - but then where to we store it all until township recycling day that only happens twice a year? b) put anything with our name on it into the trash - because opening gooey bags is yuckier and harder for thieves I guess? or c) when we have a fire in our fire pit (summer) or fireplace (winter) use these items for starter - cause we all know burning stuff is so eco-cool!

What is the correct rule of thumb for the recycling bin? We finally slimmed down our waste can, I certainly don't want to fatten it up again with useless trash!


Burbanmom said...

What about saving all the sensitives stuff up and then delivering it directly to the recycling facility once a month? It's an extra trip, but if it's not too far or you're already headed that way,maybe it would be worth it.

Joyce said...

We put the shredded stuff on the compost pile, so shredding a lot more things could mean more compost. I know it's bleached paper, but I'm not convinced that's really very harmful.

Green Bean said...

First, congrats for slimming down your trash can. With 4 boys, too! And in middle school!

As to paper, it is my understanding that shredding the paper renders it useless for recycling. Something about breaking the particles up to much, I think. I would go with Joyce's suggestion. I know folks who use it in their compost heap with great success - besides, if your compost heap is like mine, it never actually produces usable compost but, magically shrinks and therefore keeps stuff out of the garbage.

Heather @ SGF said...

Uh oh. I never heard anything about shredding not being usable for recycling. We take ours to the recycling facility on campus all the time and they have tons of shredding. I guess I better check to be sure. They never said anything.

That's what we've been doing. Shredding and then putting it with the rest of our recycled paper that gets taken to the University a few times a year.

Great job getting your trash down. It takes some effort but it's soooo worth it!

Heather @ SGF said...

Ok. Just got off the phone with our recycling people at the university. They said that shredded paper is fine, but they did ask to keep it separated from the rest of the paper (good to know, I'll start separating it now).

So you might just call and ask; and if you have a university or college nearby, check it out to see if they allow community drop offs (ours does M-F from 4-5PM).

Melissa said...

I feed mine to the worms. It disappears relatively quickly as long as I don't give them too much. Although I don't give them stuff that's super glossy or really colorful. I hear what your husband is saying about identity theft, but on the other hand I feel like there are about a million ways somebody can steal your identity these days...paper mail is just one of them! so I try not to worry too much about it. I'll probably regret that one of these days.

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eco 'burban mom said...

'burbs - I think your idea makes the most sense because sssshhhh... I don't have a compost bin or a worm bin.

Joyce & GB - I have looked at compost bins and worm bins, but have yet to dip my toe in the water. I have a hard enough time keeping 4 boys, 1 husband, 2 dogs and 1 cat alive. I just can't take on 44 worms at the moment. Though, I have looked at the undercounter versions for the kitchen waste, which seems to make the most sense for me here in suburbia. We also have a terrible problem with skunks, racoons, ground hogs and vigilante squirrels. I don't want my backyard to be the buffet!!

SGF - I wonder if my kids school drop bin takes the shredded stuff? That's where I take the magazines and paper. I will have to read the bin closer next time. I usually drive off in a hurry! Good point though, I better call and check before dumping it all in there!

Melissa, I hear you. I keep thinking - who care's if I dump the oil change coupons in there? Just look in my garage and you can see I drive a mini van. It's no big secret! But, I guess it's having your name and mailing address. Not that you can't get that from google anyhow... It's just too bag you can't trust people with your recycling!!

Anonymous said...

i'm all for shredding the junk mail. or you could have yourself removed from the lists. it takes a couple of minutes but is well worth the time. check out or, if you wanna get really creative, you can make your own cat box filler with shredded junk mail, water and baking soda.