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Daze of My Life: Bin and Now Going, Weekly

Daze of My Life
Bin and Now Going, Weekly
by Kenneth B. Lourie

The blue recycling carts are here! The blue recycling carts are here! Now what? Everything, that's what. And from what I read on the yellow cardboard sheet tucked under the lid of my new container, it's a good thing the container is as large as it is (227.5 pound capacity) and on wheels, because everything but the kitchen sink (and that could probably fit, too) is supposed to go in it; "newspapers and inserts, corrugated cardboard, cereal & other boxes, telephone books, computer & office paper, paperbacks, unwanted mail, magazines, catalogs, shredded paper, envelopes and boxes with "plastic" windows, and other clean and dry paper."
I commend the politicians or the environmentalists or the recycling companies in their convictions and/or their respective pursuits in passing/implementing this ground-breaking legislation, whose stated goal is to recycle 50 percent of the county's trash. From my perspective and understanding, however, of my resident-of-the-county responsibilities in responding to this latest recycling endeavor, fulfilling my duties (and my blue recycling cart) will likely be back-breaking. If I do indeed follow the written instructions and place as many recyclables in the container as listed, pushing or pulling or dragging the filled container from behind my back door 75 yards to the curb, and then arranging it with arrows pointing to the street, is likely to get old, and heavy, fast.
And as I've come to realize in the first week of this newly expanded recycling effort, it's not only a problem outside to transport this oversized container to the curb, especially if filled to capacity, but it's also a problem inside.
Previously, only newspapers and magazines (mostly) and plastic, glass and aluminum containers, those with the triangulated 1 or 2 imprinted on them, were recycled for weekly pickups. Until their pickup day, both groups of recyclables were temporarily kept in our kitchen, in a brown shopping bag and a cardboard box, respectively, before being transferred outside to the presently-in-use, knee-high blue bin and carried out to the curb.
Now, however, two in-house receptacles are not nearly enough. I need receptacles in every room in the house where I presently have a wastebasket, because to recycle is not to waste. Therefore, if I want to contribute to the county's stated recycling goal, I can no longer fill my multiple in-house wastebaskets, located in the bedrooms, bathrooms, recreation room, great room, kitchen, garage, den, library, etc., with eligible-to-recycle former trash.
So, as I see it, my choice is threefold: (1) Add a separate recyclable-only wastebasket in every room that currently has a wastebasket and fill it appropriately, (2) Do not add a recyclable-only wastebasket in every room where I currently have one. Instead, recycle the qualifying products by leaving said products everywhere but in the wastebasket, and walk around the house regularly and collect the recyclables in some easy-to-transfer-from bag or box, and (3) Follow neither choice 1 or 2 and simply pick up after myself every time a recyclable-eligible product is used and needs to be discarded. Then, walk outside and place each recyclable in its respective blue recycling bin (glass, bottles, plastic) /cart (paper, cardboard, etc.). To date I have chosen No. 3. Do you how many times a day I am now opening and closing my kitchen door to go outside and recycle? Do you know how many steps I'm climbing, feet I'm walking and trips I'm taking, inside-out and then outside-in my house? And finally, do you have any idea how much heat I'm losing now, and in turn how much air conditioning I'll be losing come summertime, opening and closing that kitchen door, recycling all this paper and cardboard? Neither do I, but I can't help wondering, are we losing more in energy costs than we're gaining in recycling?

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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