Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A healthy hatred for landfills

Two years ago a study indicated that Texas was far behind other states in recycling efforts.  Since then, Houstonians have taken the challenge.  In Houston areas we are seeing more recycle bins than ever before. 

At work, we each have a special paper recycling bin and in each kitchen area, we have special bins for plastic and aluminum. Our local schools have large recycling bins for paper products in the parking lots that are available to everyone. Local charities ask for donations of clothing and household items that can be reused or repaired all over town. Plus, there are organizations n Houston that accept electronics and other items for recycle or repair.

Hands Free, Stainless Triple Bin Recycler

Recently I was so excited to hear that our neighborhood was finally considering curbside recycling. For a minimal cost of $2.80 a month, we can recycle glass, aluminum, paper, plastic and others. What a great idea, right? Well.... um, not everyone thinks so. It is possible that this service will not be implemented because people simply do not want to pay the extra amount per month.

Continental 14 Gal Curbside Bin Continental Recycling ConWhat most people do not realize is that residential trash removal contracts are negotiated by how much bulk is removed. The more material we recycle, the less trash we will have for pickup. If we require less bulk trash removed, then we will ultimately pay less for trash pickup.  So we all need to get involved and ask, no demand, curbside recycling for urban areas.

To really understand how important recycling is, I think one must first acquire a hatred for landfills. The word itself sounds sterile and utilitarian - to fill land; a harmless act of digging a hole and then filling it up. However, a landfill is just the opposite. It is a cesspool of filth, useless and dangerous to animals and plants, a veritable image of overabundance along with rotting food and fibers. Usually they are positioned out of town so that the horrible smell and frequent truck traffic does not offend neighbors. A large portion of the bulk is comprised of paper or wood products that could be recycled. Most of the trash comes from 1) construction sites, 2) industrial sites, or 3) residential trash. New landfills can take millions of dollars to develop and years of time and effort. (Make no mistake, you and I are already paying for that.) If you have the stomach, Google "landfill pictures". Do the research yourself to understand why a healthy hatred for landfills is a good thing.

As humans, we create items that other animals don't need, thus creating waste. We have to find a way to reduce as much waste as possible and dispose of waste responsibly. I don't claim to have the answers, but I do already have a healthy hatred for landfills, and that has prompted me to start looking at my lifestyle differently so that we can find ways to reduce our footprint on this earth.

I hope my neighbors change their minds. In the meantime, I'll be carting my recyclable items to work with me.