Saturday, February 18, 2006

Recycling and bicycling...

A friend and I got in a long conversation last night about recycling, specifically my experience of recycling. How long have I been doing it, what do I recycle, etc. I had to think back to answer a lot of her questions. As many of my readers know, I am rather obsessed with recycling, though our conversation last night revealed that there is a whole 'nother level of recycling obsession that I haven't reached yet! Anyway, my response to my friend went something like this:
I began to recycle so long ago I don't remember how long it has been. I grew up in a home where we recycled newspaper at our school's paper drives. My dad brought home piles of used computer paper -- the old wide pin-feed paper with the green bars on it -- and we reused it for drawings, banners, and other projects. In my college years, I learned about waste reduction in very physical ways: I worked at a grocery store where various employees broke down the cardboard cartons for recycling and sorted the glass soda bottles for return to the bottling companies. The latter was a frequent assignment for me, and even though it was a dirty, sticky job, it struck me as a worthwhile effort.

Later on, when we moved to NC, long before there was curbside recycling, I began recycling in earnest. Used to be, the fire stations here would collect aluminum cans and recycle them, so I took can over there. I took our newspapers to the paper drives at local schools; later on, newspapers went to a collection site at a nearby high school. I reused paper grocery bags (before and after the advent of plastic grocery bags) as wrapping for packages that went across the country to friends and family (yes, folks, the box used to have to be covered in paper or the USPS wouldn't accept it!) I also used the bags to make newspaper-filled "blocks" for the kids to build with, and the kids cut up more bags to make costumes and other arts and crafts projects. I've always washed and reused plastic bags from bread and such and glass jars and other reusable containers, though I don't acquire as many now as I used to. Since the grocery stores started recycling paper and pastic bags -- that's been at least ten years -- I have recycled excess and worn out plastic and paper bags of all kinds that way. Recently, as I've found more opportunities for recycling, I've recycled more things: dead batteries, broken electronic devices...click the link above for a list of all the things that can be recycled!

Recycling has always been a way for me to do a small action that might help save the earth, to lighten my footprint upon this beautiful world that is suffering from so much trampling at the present time... I believe that the accumulated recycling effort of one person over a lifetime can have some positive impact, and I also have always hoped to provide an example to my children and others of how they can be effective in these small and personal ways.

So now, my readers, I have a request to make of you: if you can spare a moment, please share your experience of recycling either as comments on this blog or in an e-mail to me; my friend is writing a book that addresses some of these issues, and she welcomes personal stories to include in her book and to use for ideas. She would also like to know peoples' experience of relying mainly on biking or walking or mass transit to get most places (i.e. because of not having a car or as an attempt to minimize car use.) If you have expoerience of that to share also, write about that, too. Contributing to my friend's efforts can be another small and easy way of making a difference. Thanks to all!

1 comment:

magdalenisch said...

I'm excited you're on here. You'll have to get my mom on too! We, too, were recycler way back in the day... when they used to pay for the cans. I was an obsessive can collector as a kid. We would take giant bags of them down to a scrap metal place down near the train station. Also, we always used canvas shopping bags way before it was the classy thing to do. The other day I was very proud of myself for walking my comingle and paper to the recycling center a few blocks away. I'm really trying to reduce car use... though sometimes this is an impossibility, but I recently bought a bike and hopefully as weather and my skills improve I'll be riding it to school and other nearby locations daily. To go downtown, I take the bus or metro.