(This week’s article comes from Chelsea Zero Waste Coalition member Jean M. Vargas, a retired nurse who has lived in Chelsea since 1976. She volunteered at Potter Park Zoo as a docent for 20 years, and has visited all seven continents, most often with ecological groups. Vargas wants to conserve animals and protect our planet for future generations.)
Recycling can seem such a hassle.
It’s easier to just put everything in the orange bags that get picked up curbside. No problem.
Those orange bags cost $2.50 each. That seems like a lot of money for one plastic bag. The price also includes the cost of pickup and management of waste, so maybe the price isn’t so bad. But if I put everything I want to get rid of in the bag, I would likely need at least 2 bags/week = $5/week = $260 per year. I could have some fun with $260.
So instead, I recycle.
I return cans and bottles that I have paid a deposit on and get my money back. Glass bottles I take to a recycling station. I sort my plastics for those I can recycle. If I were to put plastic bags in with my other recycling, the machines would get clogged up.
The Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority staff try to pull out all the bags. According to Marc Williams, WWRA facility manager, they have pulled out as much as 1,700 pounds per day.
Currently, I can recycle plastic bags (all #4, “stretchy” plastic film. See this link for approved items) by dropping them in collection containers at the library, WSEC, Agricole, ArtQuest, the Lake House Bakery, and the Vintage Barn Boutique. This is a Chelsea High School student project that will last until April 15 and then begin again on Nov. 15.
I can also drop off toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and floss containers in a special container at our library.
Most importantly, when I don’t know whether an item is recyclable: if in doubt, throw it out.
Throwing it out isn’t a great solution, but is better than contaminating the whole batch of recycling.
Once I’ve taken all the recyclables from my trash I only need 1 bag/month = $2.50 = $30/year. That’s a savings of $230/year. Add in the amount I get from returning for deposits, and now it is worth the effort. I also feel better doing my small part for the environment. The landfill will only be used for things I can’t recycle.
We won’t run out of landfill space so soon, nor will we continue to contribute to the release of methane gas–a major contributor to climate change.
Yup, it’s worth the bother.
Check out the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority’s Facebook page for more helpful tips, including this very informative video. Let WWRA know how much you appreciate all of the hard work they do to manage our recycling waste by liking their page and posting a “thank you.”
Do your part by keeping plastic bags and film out of our recycling bins. Double check their “What Can I Recycle” page. Remember: if in doubt, throw it out.