Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Talkin' trash

Alright, enough about food for a few days, let's talk trash!

Lately, our local news (both tv and print) has released a number of stories about disputes over a new landfill planned to be built in a neighboring county. Well, the landfill may be in Grimes County, but let's face it Bryan-College Station. It's our trash. 

Well, they've argued about the appropriation of land, obtaining permits, hurt feelings, and well, who knows what else. The only thing I HAVEN'T heard is what we're going to do about REDUCING our trash. 

That's right. No one seems to have a problem with the fact that we're building a second land-fill with expected costs around $13 million. This is as I watch my neighbors set out their 95-gallon trash cans every week overflowing with un-wanteds and some neighbors actually have two of these cans overflowing (yeah, that's Kelsey on top of our can to demonstrate just how big they really are). What really gets to me is I can see what's inside: plastic bottles, cardboard, aluminum cans. I almost fainted one day when I saw a neighbor drop an armload of newspapers into the trash can. No!  It's all recyclable, people!

Now Bryan (the town that I live in) doesn't have curbside recycling. College Station (our "twin" of the twin cities) does. Maybe College Station residents are better at recycling, but Bryan? Seriously, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER!

It's not that recycling isn't available. It's just not from your front step. In Bryan, we have a couple options:
  1. Bryan Recycling - We have a recycling facility on Briarcrest Dr in the parking lot of the Super Walmart. Yes, you actually have to drive there, but there's a bonus. Not only can you feel good about reducing trash and helping the environment, but if you bring your utility bill with you and deliver recyclables once a month, they'll stamp your utility bill. When you've accumulated a year's worth of stamped utility bills, you turn them in for a month of free trash service. Sure it's only $15, but you're getting a little something for doing the right thing. 
  2. Texas A&M University Recycling - Ok. So Bryan recycling won't take your cereal boxes, your shoe boxes, toilet paper rolls, or any of that good stuff. Well, they aren't the only gig in town! TAMU opens up its recycling facility to the public Monday-Friday from 4:00-5:00 PM. I know, it's a short timeframe, but you don't need to go weekly. Save anything that can't go to Bryan Recycling in a rubbermaid tub/trashcan/whatever and take it all at once. I get by only going 3 or 4 times a year. 
So that's what we do with our recycling here, but something we've noticed as the years have gone by, we are even recycling less and less. No, we're still faithfully visiting the recycling facilities, but it turns out that as we focused our efforts on living more simply, frugally, and greenly (yeah, that's not a word, but it flows nicely with the sentence) - in other words, as we became more mindful in our consumption - we've found most of our consumption comes without packaging or the packaging gets reused. For example, the egg cartons I get at the farmers market always go back to the egg vendor; the glass mayo jars I buy for my hubby are washed and used to hold leftovers; to freeze soup or broth; or to carry the items I buy in bulk from our natural food store. 

As it stands now, we throw out 1-2 kitchen sized trash bags every five to six WEEKS. Now we don't have kids, so we don't have diapers, etc. But that's pretty good. Compared to 1-2 full trash cans EVERY WEEK by our neighbors! And there's no worry about food getting stinky over the course of 5-6 weeks because it all gets composted in the back yard and turned into gorgeous soil for my garden. 

Look, my fellow Bryan-College Statians (ok, I just created that word too, but stay with me here), this isn't hard: 
  1. Reduce - Check out the Bryan Recycling and TAMU Recycling websites and find out what's recyclable. Then once you've familiar with the list, REFUSE TO BUY ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T COME IN A RECYCLABLE CONTAINER. Manufacturers will eventually get the hint, trust me. 
  2. Reuse - There's often life left in many of the things that get thrown out. Clothes can be sewn or donated, furniture can be covered or repainted (or donated). Think before you chuck. 
  3. Recycle - You'll have a few leftover things in your trash can that you just couldn't avoid, but for the most part recycling is all you'll have left and all it takes is one quick little trip to Wally-World (or the parking lot anyway). Come on, it's a busy street. Don't tell me you don't wander by at least once a month. 
So is any of this sounding familiar? Reduce, reuse, recycle. Yeah, we've all heard it before. Now it's time to do it! Let this be our last landfill (you realize the money has to come from somewhere, right?)! Let's stand up to manufacturers whose inconsiderate packaging gives us more trash than product! Let's quit arguing over who did what, where, and with what permits and make some decisions that REALLY matter. Let's talk trash!


Green Resolutions said...

Great post! That is cool about the utility bills.

BP said...

Life can make it easy to forget sometimes. I know. We didn't do so well after moving to Idaho from Seattle. In Seattle it was easy, in Idaho, not so. But we are back. We ae a family of 7. We are now down to less than a garbage can a week from about five. (Reduce-Reuse-Remind). Never stop reminding. When people get wrapped up in their everyday stresses, It's people like you who can remind them what it really important. Thank You!!!!!!!
Better Panic

Beany said...

Your dog is just too adorable!

The apartment we're considering has us pay for trash and water. I look at it as a challenge - its the best incentive to get me to reduce both.

But I do agree with you. The fact that a second landfill is even on the table is a problem. I'm not too excited about having the recycle drop off at a Walmart (temptation to buy buy more "recyclable" stuff while there) but at least its there.

Heather @ SGF said...

Green Resolutions - Yeah, it's nice to get a little perk once a year for doing the right thing. Positive reinforcement is never bad :)

BP - Good for you! It's easy to get out of habit especially making a big move like that! I'm so glad you're back on track! Do the kids help?

Beany - I don't know. I'm never really tempted to go into Walmart when I'm at the recycling facility. I get kinda claustrophobic in there and there's just so much "stuff" that it's overwhelming. But obviously someone going, as much business as they drum up. Hopefully, the city will eventually move towards curbside pickup. It might encourage people to participate if it's more convenient.