Trash, Recycling, and Compulsive Behaviors

My husband has given up on recycling.

He loves the idea as much as anyone. Alas living with me has forced him to quit trying. It’s hard to be married to an organizer.

The problem is my compulsive need to have the trash in the proper container. OK, so maybe when I find things in the trash which can be recycled I pull them out, rinse them, and throw them in the blue bin. Then there are the times I find trash in the blue bin and I have to fish it out to put them in the trash.

NO, I don’t love smelling like nastiness. I just like things in the right place! And I know that for as many of you out there who are scowling (JEFF DRISKILL) at the mention of this bizarre refuse-sorting activity, there are just as many of you thinking “Yes! The right place.”

We are not weird. We are concerned.

And I am especially, inexplicably concerned with trash–Where is goes. How much there is. Who handles it. How can I help.

photo by Michelle Powell

benchmarkstudios.com

all of our trash on belts getting sorted by hand

To find answers I joined my NAPO neighborhood group (facilitated by the incredible Cari Dawson) on a field trip to the Athens Services Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in the City of Industry. That’s right, we toured the dump! And we liked it! It was fascinating to see what is thrown away and how it is handled by the workers at the facility.

Passing on the knowledge we gained:

  • if possible, do not bag your garbage (or at least leave the bag opened) so the contents are easily sorted
  • remove lids from containers before recycling them
  • hazardous liquids are an enormous problem if they end up in the regular trash (think- running over a huge packet of ketchup in your car. KER-SPLAT!)
  • truck drivers get paid bank and have good benefits
  • in some neighborhoods recycling and trash are collected in one bin and it does get sorted and recycled at the MRF

Now, to see if I can get an internship with the people picking trash from along the freeways…

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