04 January 2009

trash

Betty and B have left for an early-morning jaunt, and I’m drinking some coffee, looking out the window at the birdfeeder that needs to be refilled, and feeling kind of lazy. B and I spent Saturday taking care of necessary business, which for us yesterday meant housecleaning.

In the middle of the day, I packed up the car with all the recyclables and trash and went to the transfer station in Granville. This is one of my favorite chores. It makes me feel virtuous and useful when all I’m doing is my civic responsibility. I like that!

We recycle in New York City, too, but we’re only asked to put all of our various kinds of paper and cardboard into one blue barrel and all the rest of the recyclables (plastic, aluminum, steel) into another. It’s convenient and quick, but I wonder whether it all just goes to the landfill. I mean, who’s separating this stuff out for further use?

In Washington County, the recyclables are divided into different types of plastic, different types of paper (newspaper, magazines, inserts, cardboard, boxboard), aluminum, steel . . . We have to do the work of separating them so that the next person in line doesn’t have to, which saves money down the line, I suppose. I read an article in a local paper recently, however, that says an increasing number of residents here are hiring private contractors to cart their trash away. These contractors take everything—trash and recyclables alike—to the landfill, so that the quantities of recyclables at the transfer station are decreasing, which means that the transfer stations don’t have enough recyclables to sell to be profitable, which means that the transfer stations may be in trouble.

But how do you encourage residents to invest a little more time and effort in processing the waste they generate? We’re not the usual resident, as we’re up here on weekends only these days, so the quantities of trash we generate are not as large as they would be if we were here all the time. If we were, we’d be visiting the transfer station weekly instead of monthly. And if that were the case I wonder whether we’d think it was a pain rather than a pleasure to take care of this business?

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