During our recent trip back to Chicago, there was one aspect that I had trouble with. The place where we were staying did not have recycling. So short of bagging everything up (while we were on vacation) and searching for a place that recycles, everything went in the garbage. Glass bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, paper, plastic, organic material, everything. This was quite difficult for me. I felt guilty for not doing my part.

At home we do our part as much as possible. I probably throw things in the recycle bin that are not acceptable like some types of plastics, stuff that’s still a bit soiled, or two-material items like those frozen orange juice containers. I just hope they don’t throw up the whole lot because of a bad egg here or there. We also compost as much as we can. At the moment that amounts to throwing organic waste onto the pile behind the shed, but it is decomposing on it’s own and will be tended to soon. We yielded about 100 pounds of organic material last summer. We also return all of our beer bottles along with the plastic bottles and cans. There is something to be said for having deposits on them. Plus someday we’ll switchover to energy efficient bulbs, but we have to use up the dozens of incandescent bulbs that the in-laws bought us when we moved into our new place. I can’t bring myself to just throw them out since it would be a waste. I can’t determine which is the lesser of the two evils.

But in Chicago, they don’t have recycling for residences larger than three units and there is no deposit on bottles and cans. Larger buildings are left to organize themselves to recycle and we were staying at a new building where they had not put one in place yet. Yes, I could have bagged everything up and taken it to a bin in the park, but sometimes you lack that initiative during vacation regardless of the guilt.

But I’m still quite surprised how that feeling of responsibility has grown to the point where strong guilt is felt. I don’t disagree with it since the world would be a much better place if everyone felt that way. Granted there are now environmentalist fundamentalists who seem to have a goal of shaming everyone who does not live like the Amish. And truthfully I think they hurt “the cause” since they offend as much as enlighten.

I’ve said it before that if it were possible I would modify our house and our way of living such that a minimum of energy is consumed and a minimum of waste created. Solar panels, geothermal heating, and public transportation would be three big items toward that goal but their time and money costs are a bit too high at the moment. That said it’s what I aspire to and hope to one day achieve.


~ by Frank on October 17, 2007.

5 Responses to “Unrecycled”

  1. Did you know that there are some garbage companies that pull all the recyclables out of the trash? It’s true. Sometimes I’m a bit bitter about it because the technology is there, but here we still have to hand sort everything individually. Still, doing it yourself keeps you in touch with the issue.

  2. Actually we got lucky on the south shore. They gave us these HUGE trash cans to put our recycling in. There is no way we’d be able to fill that thing even if we waited a month. And the upside is that we don’t have to separate. I’d be very curious to know how they sort it out on the other end so I would know what I can do to expedite that on our end.

    I’d love it if they did it on the island also so that the trucks would move faster down the street when we get stuck behind them.

  3. Here here, I’d love to put solar panels, geothemal heating in our house too.
    As for public transportation, we’re a bit far off in the countryside to have that. B
    But I always used it when I was in Montreal, the cities just have to understand that we need more buses, at better intervals, and to combine the south shore transportation system with the Montreal one, two ticket system is just insane.
    How ’bout Laval, do they have they own transportation system too?

  4. I’m living on the south shore too, but a little bit farther 😉 I live in Victoriaville and we have a recycling can and a compost can a truck pick up every two weeks. And we recycle so much (plus we don’t have to sort out the things), we bought a second recycling can! So when we went on vacation this summer, in Boston and Washington, we felt that guilt you’re talking about. We were putting everything in the trash can and it felt very weird thinking of the amount of stuff that could be reused but is thrown in the garbage.

  5. I checked the size of our recycling bin this morning. It can carry 220 lbs and is 96 gallons. Isn’t that insane. I can fit inside.

    Yeah, I’ve been irked by the two ticket system. It’d be different if I took it everyday, but since I only take it occasionnally it’s a hassle and pricey ($4.45 total with 6 tickets bought together). Plus both home and work aren’t really conveniently located. My commute by public transit is a bus, a metro train (two stops), another metro train (two stops), then either a bus or a twenty minute walk. I always walk. The total trip is 50 minutes during rush hour and up to 75 minutes late at night. If I walked instead it’s about two hours (I did it recently). If I take the car it’s 15 minutes on Sunday morning, 45 minutes during regular rush hour, and up to 90 minutes on really bad days.

    My public transport problem will change in a couple weeks when our office moves downtown. It will be extremely easy to get to work during rush hour via direct bus or train, but only slightly better otherwise since the office will be closer to a Métro station.

    But really the thing that prevents me from taking public transport regularly is that our four family members are trying to get to three different places that are not very close to each other and not well connected by public transport. The car allows us all to travel together and keep all of our commute times to about an hour or less. So if we’re stuck in traffic, we’re still all together (for better or worse). This situation will change over the years, but for now that’s the best solution.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: