Friday, November 7, 2008

Easy being green, part 1

Here in Indianapolis, we don't have mandatory recycling. Most people don't even recycle at all! Coming from a city where recyclables were collected curbside - for free - and then living in another city where recycling is required by law, made me a proponent of recycling. So why don't more people here recycle?

Probably because they just don't know how. I didn't know how either, when I moved here - I had to investigate. Through Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, I found out that you can take your newspapers and magazines to the little green and yellow bins that are in the parking lots of most schools and churches around town. From Google searches, I learned that there are a couple of places around Marion County where you can drop off your cans and glass and plastic bottles (#1 and #2 plastic only). I also found a place where I could drop off cardboard for recycling, and another place for taking your electronic and other items.

Eventually, I learned that for just $6.00 a month or so, Republic Services has a curbside recycling program.  I signed us up, and within just a few days, someone dropped off a little blue recycling box. There were lots of rules, though: magazines and newspapers had to be bundled; cardboard had to be broken down; and as usual, only #1 and #2 plastics would be accepted. Sometimes, even with weekly pickup, our box would be full to overflowing.

One morning after putting out the trash and recycle bin, I happened to notice that NONE of my neighbors had the blue bins. As I drove to work, I looked down the streets in my subdivision. Of the 100+ houses here, I only saw two other blue bins. I wondered: if people knew about the recycling service, would they pay the $6.00 a month? It makes me so sad to see how many bags of garbage people leave out for the garbage truck: it's not unusual to see four, five, six bags on the curbs. All that stuff just goes to the landfill. (I estimate that recycling has reduced our trash by one-third or more.)

Not long ago, we were notified that changes were coming to the recycling program "based on feedback from our customers." A few days later, a huge blue bin on wheels (larger than our trash bin! - see above) arrived, along with a set of instructions. We don't have to bundle anything anymore. We can just pitch all the recyclables into the big bin, close the lid, and not worry. They also take the cereal-type boxes now, which is reducing our contribution to landfills even more.

This is a great service and I wish everyone would use it. Although it was always FREE in the other places I lived, six dollars a month is really not that much. Those of you who live in the Indianapolis area and are interested, please visit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful's web site, click on the Recycle link, and you will find the info you need to get started. To my friends who are fortunate enough to live in places where recycling is mandatory, my hat's off to you. Keep up the good work.