Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Being Green-ish, Part 1

I was in the second grade when I learned about recycling (from what I remember). My friend who lived in town had a green bin outside their door where they put their plastics, aluminum and paper. We didn't have one because we lived in the country. I felt a little left-out to be honest and maybe a little jealous of my friend who had this special green bin.

We had our own way of recycling at home. Food scraps went to the animals or in the garden (depending on what it was . . . corn husks went to the sheep, etc.), pop cans were crushed and put in a large garbage bag, plastics were put in another garbage bag and newspapers went in a pile. When our containers overflowed, we drove to the recycling center. To our dismay, this usually filled our entire vehicle (perhaps we waited too long!) Back then, we'd even make money on our recycled pop cans! Oh the good-ol-days. (We also had a "burn-pile" but we won't go into that!)

When we moved to San Francisco, I found that recycling and being environmentally friendly are much more serious matters than I previously knew. It's no longer an individual choice if one wants to show a concern for the environment. It's a political matter. There are laws.

I was very confused by the three garbage bins (blue, green, and black) when we first moved to California. Thankfully we were staying with a couple who could shed insight into this new culture we would soon be a part of.

The blue one is for recycling--everything that you can recycle goes in the blue bin; it doesn't even have to be separated. Later I found out there were several exeptions and this blue bin isn't as easy as it seems . . .  like plastic bags--they have to be taken somewhere else.

The green one is for wet foods, basically compost. Most homes now have a little bucket where you put food scraps seperate from your normal trash. It seems a little strange to compost when you don't have a yard, but I am getting used to this.

And finally, the black one is for everything else. It's amazing how little actually needs to go in here when you recycle and compost. Which I guess is the whole point. And if the whole city is doing this (since it's now the law!) the amount of waste our city makes should be only a fraction of what it was.

I wonder how many people in San Francisco would actually go to the trouble of separating their trash this way if it wasn't a law. I didn't do it before we moved here; I doubt I would have taken up composting as a hobby. Will this type of lifestyle or a political movement like this spread throughout the nation? Would it be so bad if it did?

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I hope this spreads through out the nation, other countries are much better at recycling than we are here in the US. I love that SF is so big on this and I like that we waste less. Like you, I hardly ever have much trash for my black can and only put it out for collection about once a month.

I just need to get better at remembering to take my bags to the grocery store!